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Has anyone else moved abroad and accidentally replicated their old life?

(13 Posts)
Egede Fri 18-Sep-09 18:12:21

It's probably because I work full time and the two jobs are more or less the same (I'm on secondment for a year), but we've moved 4000 miles and the scenery's changed and I still spend about 97% of my waking time on work, childcare and housework, and weekends seem to go on food shopping, batch cooking and taking the kids swimming more or less as they did at home. It's perfectly nice but I was hoping for a more exotic experience. Should I be trying harder?

ZZZenAgain Sat 19-Sep-09 12:57:50

I don't think moving abroad has quite the same feel to it when you have small dc. How exotic is the place you have moved to?

Maybe you could reduce the shopping/cooking at weekends by doing it after work a couple of evenings instead. Is that feasible and free up at least one day at the weekend for making little trips.

Egede Sat 19-Sep-09 22:17:47

The problem is that DH is sahp and feeling very isolated with it (it's really unusual here - nurseries are very highly subsidised and it's the norm for both parents to work full time), so I feel obliged to get home from work as early as I can and join in. But writing that makes me realise that he is in fact at home most the time and ds2 is at nursery in the mornings so I'm not quite sure why I'm doing all the food-shopping and cooking at the weekend... I think it's because we came here mostly because I wanted to so I don't want to make demands on him and feel he deserves a few hours of peace and quiet/wasting time on the internet.

We're in Scandinavia, in a place so small and gossipy that I wouldn't dare specify a country on a public forum...

JeMeSouviens Sat 19-Sep-09 22:24:57

I found that when we first moved o/s we hit the city and explored and were very busy but as soon as winter started we hibernated, along with everyone else, and really didn't get out of that mode for the summer just ended.

I work pt, so the plan was to use my days off to get the house sorted and the food in. That would leave our weekends free to do interesting things around here. I didn't really achieve this and yes, life is just as it was in the UK.

Could your DH be pursuaded to do this, after all he has 5 mornings a week. He could use 2 for himself and 3 to take care of the house and get the shopping done, freeing up the weekend for you all to plan things to enjoy your new environment.

We're about to move to a very small town in the country so we're hoping that this will give us the kick up the butt we need to start exploring again, but with winter looming, it might put us off again. <buys bear spray and learns to shoot rifle>

JeMeSouviens Sat 19-Sep-09 22:26:36

... and meant to say, we have small dc, and have to agree it is limiting. I previously lived where we are now while single and was out and about a lot more with various friends.

ZZZenAgain Sun 20-Sep-09 14:51:13

I see your dilemma. So dh wasn't keen to move there? Still it needs to change. So he has every morning free whilst ds is at nursery or he has another dc to look after in that time?

Realistically, if you are working full-time and he is a SAHD with no other demands on his time, your dh could be on top of the food shopping (at the very least really).

I would consider setting up a regular Saturday morning schedule which involves maybe going out for breakfast or straight after breakfast and staying out all day. That way shopping and batch cooking on Saturday is out. I'd ask dh to do a big foodshop on Thursday/Friday to cover.

I understand your reluctance to rock the boat but you want to get something out of where you are. Have you tried just telling him straight, asking him since you work full-time if he could not use the mornings to get shopping, batch cooking, some basic housework done to free you both up to go out and do fun things at the weekend, at least one day in the weekend? If you can frame it somehow in a positive manner, he might respond in kind.

belgo Sun 20-Sep-09 15:03:43

Ask yourself: What exactly do you want to get out of this time abroad? What do you want to achieve, what are your expectations?

Learning a language, visiting different places, joining in with the local culture?

I don't think you should turn this into a SAHD/WOHM battle - you didn't move abroad just to argue about who's doing the shopping. Order your shopping online/get a cleaner if the chores are that much of a problem.

What exactly can you do to make this experience more exotic?

BonsoirAnna Sun 20-Sep-09 15:04:50

Why are you spending your weekends on household chores if your DH is a SAHP? Couldn't he get the chores done while you are at work (and take your children swimming during the week) so that your weekends are free to go exploring as a family?

ZZZenAgain Sun 20-Sep-09 20:42:22

belgo has a point, maybe think about what fun things there are to do, see, try out where you are (things that might also appeal to dh) and do one of them this weekend. If you have a good time and the housework and other chores fall behind a bit, perhaps dh will of his own accord feel inspired to do more.

If he is so very isolated, he may be feeling a bit depressed. Could he do a course of some type (even distance learning), sport (kayaking, golf?) something he has always wanted to do? It might not mean meeting a lot of men if he is doing it during the week but might make him enjoy the whole experience more.

Egede Sun 20-Sep-09 20:48:41

Thank you, all. Yes, of course you're quite right about DH and the housework. And I call myself a feminist... In the UK he was studying and we had no childcare for ds2 so the equation was rather different, and I'm the foodie here so I've always done all the food shopping, meal planning and cooking, while he cleans, does laundry and washes up and it's always felt more or less functional. But now it feels as if I have to be grateful for being allowed to go out into the world and be a grown-up while he's alone in the flat and/or battling with the children (ds1 has ASD and ds2 is 2 so they can be hard work, especially now winter is more or less here - dh is much less gung-ho about weather than I am). And I am grateful for his sahd-ing, but it's obviously not very sensible if the result of my gratitude is that we don't see any more of this country than the supermarkets... I'd really like to get away for weekends, but ds1 needs routine and ds2 is not in favour of anything new at the moment. Days out, however, should be perfectly possible. I suppose this is more about how moving abroad highlights the constraints and compromises of family life than what we do at weekends. Since the dc, I've lived the most stimulating parts of my life at work and with my friends and now the four of us are together more intensely than we've been before and without outside support. Not sure I like it...

BriocheDoree Mon 21-Sep-09 12:53:25

I'm the other way round to you - I'm the SAHM to DH who works just outside of Paris. I also have two kids, one with PDD (very similar to ASD) and a toddler. Sometimes I'd love to work but with DD it just isn't possible (hey ho!). However, I find that keeping weekends free for fun stuff is ESSENTIAL. I do as much food shopping as pos. in the week, and most of the household chores. I did resent it a bit in the beginning but then I saw how much better it was for everyone when we had time off at the weekend (of course, DH helps out at the weekend, too). Does your ASD son hate supermarkets? (I know many who do). I think you need to talk to your DH and point out that you also need time off / time to explore. Like you say, it's a shame to be living abroad and not appreciating it (although sometimes I feel like I've lived here for long enough now that it's the UK that seems strange and exotic).

Egede Mon 21-Sep-09 22:53:56

Well, today I worked from home (this surprises people here but no-one seemed to mind) so I could do the school runs and give dh more flexibility, and I asked him to use some of the extra time to do some shopping. Let's just say it didn't work... I think part of this is just the inevitable tension between the sahp and wohp where each half thinks the other has an easier time (though mostly I do think I have an easier time, I love my job and find work deeply fulfilling and didn't cope very well as sahm), exacerbated by a new environment where the family dynamic is more intense, and partly we do need to get our act together and get out a bit more. I could do more housework in the evenings, though the kids are going to bed late and we all have to get up early, and I get very pissed off if I don't manage at least half an hour of reading/phoning friends/bad TV most days. I just don't want to push someone who's already a bit depressed and edgy with the kids into real hostility. And I've tried to find him activities to do but he takes it as criticism and gets defensive.

moondog Mon 21-Sep-09 22:58:30

Why did you move?
Is one of you from there?

I must say, having lived in variousl countries as the sahp with two small kids, it was an incredibly depressing experience. |You do however saeem to be taking on a great deal of the burden in addition to work.

What's he doing all day? hmm
Has he transport?
Does he speak the language?

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