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Expat parent survival guide: Do parents have it better?

Surviving and thriving as an expat parent is possible (and even easy) if you know the right steps to take. In this series I will share what I have learned about expat parenting (from pregnancy to baby to toddler).

I want to let you in on a little secret. Expat parents really do have it better than their childless counterparts. Crazy, right?

Most people would rather have surgery without anaesthesia than move to a foreign country with children. A few years ago I would have been one of them, but now I realise that I had things all wrong!

Here are some of the reasons why expat parents have it better:

 We figure out the system much faster
If you want to know how to get things done efficiently, ask a parent. Nothing spurs you to learn the secrets to quickly pushing paperwork through the Gemeente and IND like doing it with a cranky toddler.

Parents spend tons of time researching the system before they even arrive to make sure that they avoid the pitfalls. The good news is that parents also love to share their knowledge.

 We make deeper friendships more easily
It is hard to survive as an expat parent without a community to support you. As a result, we are among the first to join social groups and meet the neighbours.

All of those playdates give us plenty of time to bond with one another. We share our secrets and dreams, frustrations and celebrations and end up knowing more about one another than even our families from home know about us.

The best part is you end up having these close friendships with more than one or two other people. I can think of at least 20 people I could call to help me with just about anything on a moment’s notice. I never could have done that before I had kids.

 We learn more about life in the local culture
Kids give you a chance to "grow up" in the new culture. You end up learning about the country from an insider’s viewpoint through holiday parties, birthdays, songs, books and movies, school lessons and more.

Having children lets you bring local traditions into the home without it feeling artificial or forced. You may even find yourself knowing more about Jip, Janneke and Nijntje than Curious George or Kermit. That’s ok!

 We become experts about the local area
Before I had kids I would leave town and go exploring every chance I got. Now, I find myself sticking close to home.

Who needs a weekend in Provence when you can go to the Bieslandsedagen festival or another similar event down the street? We may not know the best bars and restaurants in town, but we can point out all the local pools and playgrounds, festivals, shops and service providers.

Children give expat parents access to a beautiful international experience. Next time someone asks you how you can possibly survive as an expat with kids, just smile and think about how you really do have it better!


Lynn Morrison helps parents in the Netherlands. For more information please comment below or visit her website Nomad Parents.

Lynn

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Lynn Morrison

Lynn is one of the primary contributors at The Marketing Salon, a blog with marketing advice for SME's. She has over 10 years of experience in marketing and sales, most...

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