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Feeling overwhelmed - how to cope alone?

(27 Posts)
naturalbaby Wed 27-Apr-16 16:16:37

I feel like I have a lot to deal with at the moment and have nobody to share the load with. I find myself looking at online quick fixes - buy this parenting paperwork organising bundle, buy this fitness class, buy that nutrition guide.... pay for someone to give me the answer....

What actually works though?

Between my kids health and school needs, my marriage, learning the language, trying to get projects finished at home ( just sorting through old clothes to get rid of!) I've had enough of it all. I dream of the days when my dc's were in full time school in England and all the extra curricular activities I could want and more... and the opportunity to go to college to retrain to go back to work.

I need a plan but don't have the time to pull one together sad.

MissTeriName Wed 27-Apr-16 16:21:04

What works for me when I'm overwhelmed is to choose three things a day that are a priority and if achieve even one or two, I'm happy.

Have you just arrived somewhere?

DXBMermaid Wed 27-Apr-16 16:24:06

I'm sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed!
How long have you been living abroad? Are you still in the settling in fase?

Even small mundane tasks take a lot longer and a lot more energy when you are new. Is the an expat community you can reach out to?

Can you organise some extra activities or hire some outside help to give your extra time for yourself?

Be kind to yourself, you have uprooted your old life and it will take some time to settle into this new one.

naturalbaby Thu 28-Apr-16 09:05:28

Thank you. We've been here a while but are looking into making some changes, but that whole process is not very straightforward. There is a good expat community but I miss the chats with uk mums at the school gates - the mums who recommend a particular club or activity to point me in the right direction.
We have a bit of outside help but that's also changing so there's quite a bit of uncertainty about how next year/term is going to work out.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Thu 28-Apr-16 09:15:41

It's kind of hard to advise what would work without more context on where you are and whet the problems are and how far you've got with the language etc - but I think you know that wink

For the extra curricular activities do ask local mums just as you would in the UK - school gate might not apply but what about neighbors or neighborhood playgrounds?

It is far harder than being in your home language comfort zone. Make a list of everything that needs doing then prioritise into urgent, important, needs doing, and merely would like to do, then prioritise the urgent jobs by deadline?

It took me years to properly start getting on top of things, thoughI had big burst of mmotivation in the first year and then it went up and down...

Yes be kind to yourself and accept good enough...

Laptopwieldingharpy Thu 28-Apr-16 10:03:12

are you in an expat posting? If yes, i'm sure there will be Expat FB pages you can join. Where i am it's like an oracle! They have all the answers.
I know it is not ideal if you are trying to fit in, learn the language and be very local but hey, don't try and tackle it all in the same breath!
Are the kids in a local school?

Yes to lists and doing 1-2 things a day. Small accomplishment every day. Do one thing first thing when they are off to school then take a bit of time for yourself ( language course, yoga, a swim). I'm looking at distance learning courses and there is quite a bit available from uk universities.

Have random conversations with people you see every day. Neighbour, shop, 1-2 people at school. Persist. Nod, smile. Get involved in the PTA if you are in an international school. You wont be the only one having a difficult transition and killing time. I met many many professional women through that and happy collaborations & networking happen there too. When we left the UK , i found a job ( totally new field) within 6 weeks of sharing a joke about being a with someone who was showing us a house. I had a 2 month ild in my arms and was absolutely not expecting an offer!
Same thing a few years later and i established a business using mainly friendly encounters to reduce costs on accounting, advertising, supplier etc....
Hang in there and take a conversion course to give you a bit of time to prepare for the jump if your kidds are still too young to consider full time work.

Re-establish happy routines for after school. Monday, bakery and playground, tuesday activity for a kid & quality time for the other, wednesday swap etc.....

I usually do homekeeping, paperwork, phone calls mondays to lift the weight off my shoulders for the rest of the week.

Now your DH! Not sure about your situation. Sounds like fatigue but no major pb?
You know what? Do what makes YOU happy. And you will be and he will be!

hollypocks Thu 28-Apr-16 18:20:14

What a great post Laptop!

naturalbaby Thu 28-Apr-16 20:08:29

Lots of fab ideas, thank you. I'm a terrible procrastinator so really need to get organised. DH is so busy at work I'm pretty much on my own figuring everything out. It's not an expat job but there are lots of expat social groups locally. No pta so it's really difficult to integrate at school for me and the kids.

My biggest issues is I only really have the mornings free due to the school timetable and most mornings are taken up with a language course or the supermarket shop and basic housework. Some weeks I don't get a free morning at all and it's only 3 1/2hrs till the kids are back for lunch. I'd love to sign up to an online course to get a qualification but have no confidence that I'll get time to actually do it.

I've been trying really hard to be kind to myself and accept good enough but it's been a few years now and we want to achieve a bit more for ourselves and the kids in school.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Fri 29-Apr-16 06:14:42

natural - 3 1/2 hours of school means you are in Germany perhaps? grin

How old are the kids? Are they both/ all at school or are some/ is one still at Kindergarten?

What are your aims, when you say you want a bit more? Do you want more extra curriculars for the kids or is it higher academic attainment or better integration you are aiming for? Do you know what kind of work you'd like to be doing?

I've been here 9 years (almost) and really focussed on the kids til about 6 months ago - sometimes it was frustrating but mostly I was happy with it, and I had a very small evening job (teaching English a few evenings a week) which I got very easily but (in our small rural area) there was no way to expand my hours or do much in the daytime. I finally started applying for random jobs about 8 months ago, and after initial despair at not immediately getting interviews the way I used to back in the UK, pre kids when the world and I were both utterly different... grin I pretty much walked into something utterly unexpected which I would never have contemplated in the UK but surprisingly ideal for me and our current circumstances (a priority being working around the kids' school hours of course and not having to travel to far from them in case of the urgent "child is ill" phone call).

The problem with Germany is that the states are so very different from one another (and rural v city is also very different indeed) but if you have any specific questions and are indeed in Germany then maybe I can answer - and if not there are tons of MNers in Germany, all over the country (there used to be an active "living in Germany"" thread but it has fallen by the wayside).

Good luck - it will work out in the end as long as you hang in there, but you are allowed off/ down days! You are doing better than me with the language course - I never stuck at one at all, but I've picked it up well enough to work in a workplace where no English is spoken (and actually a Bayrisch course would be far more useful, I have had several people complain that I am speaking Hochdeutsch rather than about my thick English accent and poor grammar!)

PinkBallerina Mon 02-May-16 14:12:03

Gosh you sound like me. I'm in Switzerland. I hate the whole come home for 2.25 hours at lunchtime and only odd afternoons in school. And i am a terrible procrastinator. My mental health improved massively when i found my partner in crime - an American mom married to a local who is just as disorganised as me but spends most of her time trying to hide it.

The other week i bought a whiteboard (i know, ugly, i was supposed to paint an old frame and bit of wood in magnetic chalkboard paint but it would take me forever to do that so i bought an ugly whiteboard) and each day i write three priorities to achieve. Todays are 1. John Lewis order 2. Change all the beds 3. Teach DD to write her name.

naturalbaby Tue 03-May-16 15:33:26

grin I like the sound of that mum PinkBallerina!
I'm in Switzerland too. I loved my whiteboard in the uk but we can't get anything hung up on the walls here so it's in storage somewhere.

We really want to stay but if my kids are only doing o.k in school then I'll be tempted to go back. I know they are bright and very capable but just not achieving what I know they can.

I've also been out of work for nearly 10yrs so need to achieve more for myself. I worked with kids before so can't really do that here unless I speak the language really well.

caffelatte100 Tue 03-May-16 22:25:42

Have you got the opportunity to put your children into reading and writing classes for native speakers? They run in all the major towns and impact literacy development in German or French really well.

naturalbaby Wed 04-May-16 20:03:55

I haven't seen anything for native speakers - there are classes for English reading and writing but I haven't seen anything locally. Part of my problem is that I don't know where to look for local resources - sport is easy to find but not anything academic.
Talking about tutors draws a blank as well but pretty much all my uk friends have tutors for their kids. They do get extra support in school but only once a week.

Laptopwieldingharpy Thu 05-May-16 10:47:15

Just thought of this website
Found lots of useful info there when i was in the netherlands.
They have local sub sections for geneva, zurich....
Hope it helps

beresh Thu 05-May-16 15:36:48

I'm also in Switzerland and sympathize with the lunch problem! Can you find a neighbour to swap with so you get a full day free? We've had a swap going for 3 years, it works well.

For private tutors is good,you can search or put up a free advert. I've used in the past too with good results when my dc's grades were slipping lower.

I'd recommend focusing on getting a german qualification b2 or c1. Looks good on your cv,feels good to achieve something tangible and helps to get a job if you stay!

Best wishes.

naturalbaby Tue 17-May-16 13:38:06

Luckily we have day car next to school where my kids can go for lunch.
I'm working on German b1 or 2 level at the moment but am really apprehensive about taking a test!

We are close to family who we talk to often but I could do with some time off and being looked after by someone else - am getting a bit fed up of looking after the dc's and dh at the moment! I'm eyeing up the summer holiday programes and can't wait to book some activities for the dc's and myself.

Katsite Sat 21-May-16 20:49:56

There used to be a good yahoo group for expat (moms) in Switzerland as well. Might be worth networking through them.

Katsite Sat 21-May-16 20:54:50

And take one day at a time.

feesh Mon 23-May-16 09:38:06

I'm an expat and my days are pretty full-on too - I am at home with twins all day. But I am still managing to do a degree through online study. My husband takes the kids out all day on Saturday, and I spend the whole day in the library. I also do the occasional work in the evening when I need to.

We do have household help though, which I think makes a huge difference. Is there any way you could get a cleaner to help you?

We have just moved to another new country and I find Facebook to be my saviour - my FB account is purely used for finding local groups and getting local info via the area's Q&A page.

feesh Mon 23-May-16 09:39:37

Also, if you want to hang stuff on the wall, 3M make an awesome range of removable hanging hooks and Velcro strips. They can take a lot of weight these days, no need for hooks or screws.

justonemorethread Mon 23-May-16 10:09:55

I don't have useful advice but i hear you.
I really dislike the learning style at my children s international school but can't seem to be able to give myself the kick up the backside I need to do educational activities with them, despite the many free hours and gazillions of ideas and resources i already have!

I haven't worked for 3 years yet have still not sorted the big box of years of photos that i was definitely going to organise on this posting.

Being here seems to have paralised me in to inertia and i feel so guilty of the hours i have whiled away.

Then on a good day I tell myself to enjoy it as I won't be lady of leisure forever...

I don't know. Just be kind to yourself.

As a previous poster mentioned you need a partner in crime. Stuff tje old clothes away and use that time to try and socialise? The word that stands out in your title is 'alone'.
The more you get out there the more likely that you'll find a kindred spirit.

naturalbaby Mon 23-May-16 20:47:31

Got the facebook groups and expat group and have met some lovely people.
The thing is I can't understand why my kids are at home so much but I just don't get to spend any time with them. I'm eyeing up robot hoovers like they're the answer to everything!
I do feel like a lady of leisure and am trying to enjoy it but have been out of work for quite a while and need a plan to get back in one day. I think about a cleaner/part time nanny/au pair but life in a foreign language is complicated enough so the thought of actually organising it freaks me out!
Several piles of photos waiting for my time - check. Hours spent on netflix - check. 'sigh'
Wow, I sound so lazy and pathetic. It's so easy to sit at home feeling sorry for myself and doing very little. Everything out there is saying take it easy, be kind to yourself... what about the super women who work in a 2nd language while bringing up kids and running a home efficiently. What did I miss?!

justonemorethread Mon 23-May-16 21:30:48

I don't know natural, I'm sure they're not that super! However one good thing you've done is make me feel like I'm normal!
I too have hours with the kids and seem to do very little with them.
And I'm in Africa with a frigging full time housekeeper!!
So you're way ahead of me if you're doing housework as well!!!

justonemorethread Mon 23-May-16 21:38:27

However i found on a recent stint back home i became instantly more proactive and efficient. I was a bit like this on a previous posting then two years in the uk when i bounced back, had a job,school runs, household duties etc and juggled it all!
Do i know im still a functioning adult deep down. It's something about expat life that gets me...
Prob a combination of slight unhappiness and being a natural procrastinstor.
The more i have to do the more i do, if that makes sense!

Abricot1993 Mon 30-May-16 17:12:32

Another here in Switzerland. I know what you are going through with the local schools and children coming home for lunch. The thing is they get so much homework that has to be done for the next day that they need to start over lunch.

When they are pre-school you can visit other expat friends but once they get to school it is trickier. Plus where I am the Swiss mums have their husbands come home for lunch too and don`t want to swap and there is no after school care or school lunch.

As you`ve gathered we are in a very local area and I can`t wait until our child leaves primary so we can move. I`ve just got myself a small job after not working for 10 years and hope things get easier.

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