I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

  "Let's go down there and play," my husband grabs our daughter's hand and leads her down the bleachers of the gymnasium. Our son is playing on the other side of the gym with his classmates. I watch them as he leads her gently down the steep stairs and he instructs her to run back and forth on a painted line in her socked feet. She loves it and instantly transforms from an I'm-patiently-waiting-for-this-practice-to-end sibling into an I'm-having-so-much-fun-and-I-want-to-stay little kid. I mentally kick myself. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that I'm a wet blanket type of a mother, but I'm a rule follower, and that means that I don't always think about bending the rules. Couple my rule-following personality (which is a great cultural fit for Sweden) with a language barrier and the end result is a slightly hesitant parent. In a lot of ways, my husband reminds me of my own dad (insert your own psychological studies and "daddy complex"...
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I Know Who I Am As A Parent Regardless Of Politics

I Know Who I Am As A Parent Regardless Of Politics

For the past few days, I've been discussing, reading, processing all that has happened and what it might mean and I have left every conversation muttering, "I don't know..." And that's just it. I don't know a lot of things. I don't know what will happen to children of immigrants. I don't know what people of color will face regarding continued racism in their communities. I don't know what economic impact this change in power will have on our country and on the world. I don't know if a wall will be built or if people will be removed from the country. I don't know if the small incremental changes in healthcare policies will be undone. I don't know if any campaign promises were made in earnest or were made to gain power. I don't know. But I do know a few things: I know that I will raise my children to be tolerant, kind, and generous with their love and understanding of others different from us. I know that...
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Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

This is the first in a series of Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad articles between the two groups of women where they share their questions, fears, and possible anxieties about some of the challenges of creating a family abroad. Great things happen when women come together. Great things, therefore, happen when women collaborate to learn from each others' experiences with motherhood, love, and loss. This series brings together women from Expat Coffee Club who are near or far away from having children with the contributors to the anthology, Knocked Up Abroad Again who became mothers while living in a foreign country. Erin: There's a strange transition time in between referring to the family you grew up in as your "family" and forging a new family of your own. My new family is small, my husband and I, which makes big decisions a bit easier. Only the two of us have to be on board, which made moving away easy...
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Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Most days, I feel all alone. Geographically isolated from all that is familiar and linguistically isolated from what I know. The foreign language around me is easily tuned out and processed as white noise. It's soothing and I am alone with my thoughts. Parenting in cultural isolation can provide a new type of freedom in many ways. I have gladly discarded holidays and traditions that I never enjoyed. Without the cultural pressure to honor them, they quickly disappear. Anything that I am not willing to import myself will not get passed down to my children. It requires a lot of work to celebrate a holiday that isn't observed locally. Sorry kids, but Valentine's Day isn't going to be that important for our family. You'll survive. Some traditions, only the ones I hold near and dear to my heart, are kept. Celebrating holidays abroad is a bit like moving abroad—you discover that not so many things are important and you only take the...
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How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

How 9 Expat Moms Celebrate (or Avoid) Halloween Abroad

BY JENNIFER MALIA Though widely known as an American tradition, Halloween has been adopted by other countries around the world. In many countries, trick-or-treating, costume parties, and spooky decorations have become popular ways of celebrating Halloween. I talked to expat moms around the globe and asked them what Halloween traditions they do (or don’t do) when living abroad. Their stories take place in countries as diverse as England, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Whether you are an expat family that celebrates Halloween abroad, a family that travels for the holiday, or a family that celebrates Halloween in the US, their stories are sure to entertain you, and might even frighten you in a G-rated sort of way. Kristy Smith, The Midwestern Repatriate “I’m American, and my husband is British. We spent many years in the UK celebrating Halloween, which seems more like an addition to the local village harvest festivals than a separately adopted tradition. Some kids...
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What To Do When You Speak Like A Five-Year-Old

What To Do When You Speak Like A Five-Year-Old

The long conference table is full of elderly retired Swedish women chattering about at a rapid clip—about what, I'm not sure because my brain switched off thirty minutes ago. My ears are technically hearing words, but the translating machine inside my head has gummed up, and all of the words have run together into one long blur. I can no longer keep up with the flood of language swirling around me.    Donating my time and energies to this volunteer organization is part selfless and part selfish. I volunteer with these women in hopes of improving my Swedish while at the same time, helping women in my local community. A win-win situation for everyone involved, no? I figured that by attending these meetings and volunteering a few times a month, Swedish would worm its way into my vocabulary in a passive and effortless way. The reality is that I am still only catching about 40% of what is being said around me...
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The Bag That Will Revolutionize Parenting

The Bag That Will Revolutionize Parenting

One of the best parts of entering into the crowdfunding community is that other creatives and inventors discover and connect with one another. I had the pleasure of running across Pricilla's amazing invention that is perfect for parents who are looking for a diaper bag that can do it all—The Division of Labor Dual Tote.     Designed by a busy mom who was tired of the mess that became her diaper bag, this bag is durable and stylish enough to last long after your baby is out of diapers. When I was pregnant, we purchased a black diaper bag that my husband wouldn't mind carrying. I was continually digging through it to try to find wipes and an extra clean onesie when diaper physics failed me yet again. I can't tell you how many times I would discover a lost pair of socks at the bottom of the bag. I would've given my right arm (the one that I use for world-domination) for a...
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How To Travel Light As A Family

How To Travel Light As A Family

  As a family, we have traveled all around Europe and the US on planes, trains, and automobiles but no matter where we are headed, we employ these core approaches to traveling lightly. As a mom of two kids, I found that I needed my arms to remain as free as possible to hold little hands while walking on busy streets or helping them up into their seats on the bus. Here's what worked for us:     1. Do laundry wherever you are We generally never pack clothing for more than five days and plan on doing laundry along the way. We stay at Airbnb apartments that usually have a washer on site and a kitchen. This has transformed our traveling experiences with children.     2. Backpack and baby wearing We prefer to use backpacks to keep our hands free for wrangling and carrying our children. Roller bags are good but you lose a hand and dragging it through Europe can be extra difficult over cobblestone streets. They...
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Creating Your Tribe on the Move

Creating Your Tribe on the Move

The Families in Global Transition (FIGT) 2017 conference is coming up and their theme is Building on the Basics: Creating Your Tribe on the Move.  The FIGT conference is not really a conference as one might think of professional meetings. It has been called, "A reunion of strangers," because the attendees are members of the same tribe. We are all highly mobile people living in cultures different from which we were born. Some attendees are newly living abroad and others have lived in more countries than I could ever imagine. The wealth and depth of knowledge and experience are impressive and connecting with this wonderful group of people feels like coming home. The deadline for submissions for speaking roles is September 7 and more information can be found here. The conference is in The Hague, Netherlands March 23-25, 2017 and I hope to meet you there! You can read about my Top 10 Takeaways from last year's conference. If you have any questions, please feel free...
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8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

8 Surprising Things I Learned When I Put Down My Phone

My phone is always in my back pocket, my hand, or my purse. I use it to take pictures and videos of my children throughout the day, and I justify that use always to have it nearby. I am mindful of limiting my children's screen time but often forget that I am probably getting more 100% screen time than they are throughout the day. I compulsively check my email, social media notifications, and text messages. It's a problem, and I know it. The average American checks their phone 46 times per day according to a 2015 Deloitte study. People are distracted by smartphones, smart watches, and tablets while watching tv, crossing the road, and of course, while interacting with friends and family. My kids' reaction to my perpetual distraction was enough to convince me that I was glancing at my phone too often. My oldest started saying, "Mama, look at me, not your phone!" (Could it get any clearer than that?) The...
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