Note that I did not write “Dad” on the title. This is to underline that I will be talking about the father of your children as part of your support system, and not as a father.

Of course, them being great dads is also great and very important, but in this piece, we’ll discuss how they can help you in your expat mum journey.

This post was born because my husband started reading my posts and complaining that they made him look bad. After a good chuckle, I agreed to let him contribute to the blog and he decided to write about the things he does for our expat family.

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about providing for the family. So far, we’ve both worked and provided for the family. I mean all the extra little things that partners should (yes, should) do to make our expat mums easier.

So, I won’t keep you waiting and will let you get on with the post. The sections below were written by my husband, and edited by me (talk about team work)!

A beacon of hope

For some reason, husbands are less emotionally involved by moving and new situations. Don’t get me wrong, they are just as upset by the turmoil, they experience the same discomforts related to the new country, habits and language, severing of relationships and making new ones, but they tend to react differently, on a more pragmatic level (or so he tells me).

With all the due exceptions, men tend to react to issues by “doing things to fix them” and this way of proceeding alone seems to make them feel better (regardless of the result). They also tend to wait for the problem to appear in front of them before taking action (rather than staring at it while coming from afar like a mum would do) which saves them a lot of psychological energy.

Is this the case for you? If so, it may be useful to talk about your anxieties and worries with him as well. He might bring a new perspective to the problem and help you feel less stressed about it. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to plan or worried by all the possible catastrophes lurking in the future, I look for comfort in a hug and the words “don’t worry, everything will be fine”.

I even remember one day when I actually told him: “It’s your job to keep up the moral in the family”. And I think it’s only fair! I deal with practically anything family-related, so he might as well help me cope with it!

Go ahead and talk it over with your significant other. Let him know this is how you feel. If you never tell them, (very) probably he won’t even notice and you’ll resent him for it.

Just a word of caution: your partner might also have moments of bad mood and he might occasionally need you to return the favour.

Acknowledge your work and accept that money is meant to make life better

Money is meant to make life better. Depending on your financial situation, you might be able to use some money to delegate part of the household chores (occasional (or stable) nannies, cleaning help, home delivery of groceries, etc.).

Consider with your partner how to wisely invest your money and put on the cost/benefit balance the time and mental effort saved. On a bigger scale, consider the impact of the household distance with respect to your workplace and the kid’s school and don’t immediately discard more expensive – yet more convenient – choices. Decreasing commuting time might have a huge impact on your daily routine; even better, you will know that if anything happens you will be able to react quickly – and you know that peace of mind doesn’t have a price.

Team up with your spouse to decide on these things. Your financial situation is unique, but regardless of whether he’s the sole breadwinner, he needs to understand that you take care of A LOT (probably more than he does), so your sanity and happiness is definitely worth the costs of making your life easier.

Give you a bit of me-time every week

Yes, your husband may be the sole breadwinner, but that means he spends a considerable amount of his wake time with reasoning adults. You deserve the same. So sit down and decide how you want to enjoy that very well deserved me-time.

Give your partner some credit: he will likely be able to feed the kids and/or put them to bed without major damage. My husband generally takes it as a challenge and hates when I try to prepare stuff for him or I give him too many directions: if he’s in charge, he wants to decide. Maybe the kids will go to sleep half an hour later than usual, maybe I’ll discover the pyjamas were inside-out the next morning.

It cannot hurt if it happens occasionally, and you will have gained precious social time with your friends or colleagues. My advice is to organise something recurrent (say, Wednesday night is night out), so that you will not have to spend time and energy every time and your friends will also settle on the habit. But an occasional massage on a weekend is also a fantastic idea.

Occasionally relieving mum from all her planning and organising

If generally speaking, I am told that planning kid’s activity is often a mum’s job, I can certify that dads are very good at improvising.

It was a sunny day at the beginning of the summer and my husband decided, on the spot, that it was a perfect occasion for the first night out camping experience of my four-and-a-half-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. They grabbed the tent and the sleeping bags from the shed and some other random stuff for fire-making.

He chose a camping site on their way to the car; I run after them with “essential” items like cleaning towels and was given a single chance to contribute before they were gone (approximately 15 minutes after he had decided to go). He went to buy grill food on their way to the camping site (mostly bacon).

He forgot the sun cream and the sunglasses. They didn’t have any cutlery and had to cook and eat the bacon with hands and sticks. They came back dirty, smelly… and ecstatic.

He forgot the sun cream and the sunglasses. They didn’t have any cutlery and had to cook and eat the bacon with hands and sticks. They came back dirty, smelly… and ecstatic.

Useless to add that I had the best night’s sleep in weeks and I deeply enjoyed a quiet house during the weekend.

Ok, if dads can’t plan well-thought activities, at the very least come up with some out of the blue activities for the weekend. Maybe you would have liked to join them in the chilly and cramped tent that day. I preferred some pampering and peaceful time by myself. I’ll go next time.

To sum up

In summary, decide together where to use the family’s resources and make sure he’s aware of your needs and priorities. Let him have spaces that he can manage without motherly interference, and enjoy the freedom that comes from it. And take advantage of his presence to get comfort when you need it.

I just want to add that your partner is not the only person that can offer this perks: visits from family and friends, even infrequent, can also help. And the other expat mums that you will meet will quickly become effective helpers, as they will understand perfectly your situation and give a hand, expecting you to do the same the next time.

So there you have it, a shout out to expat dads and all the things they can do for their lovely and deserving expat partners. Share it with them and see what they think!

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