7 QT {Expat Edition}

In the last 3 days I’ve packed four 50 pound bags. I’m determined to not let these end of summer days get the better of me. Just as much as there are final runs to Target and Costco, there are also last minute marshmallow roasts, end of season get togethers with friends and family, and cool leisurely mornings with coffee to enjoy. At the same time, I have to admit my mind is beginning to operate in dual zones-on the one hand I feel compelled to end our beautiful summer without panic and rushing, and on the other I am starting to mentally prepare for huge change of moving to a new country, starting over professionally, meeting new people, and helping our children adjust. In the midst of all this chaos, there is a lot of self-talk happening. I find myself doling out internal pep talks and advice on a regular basis. Here are the highlights:

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{Expat Edition}

#1 Give everyone (including myself) a break. For at least six months.ย Navigating the waves of so much change can be difficult. These situations don’t always bring out the best in people. It’s important to recognize that everyone needs some time to settle in and recalibrate before figuring out anyone’s true nature. In other words, accept the crazies, at least until Christmas.

#2 Be your “second month self”. This one comes from a colleague who gently told me as I was preparing to transition to a new school that I need to be my second month self. I spent our first month working together, awash in self-doubt and defensiveness, making it difficult for us to connect and collaborate effectively. Instead I will strive to be the open, thoughtful, and sarcastic peer I am once I’ve gained a bit of assurance and confidence, from the get-go.

#3 Don’t travel during the first break. We have a 5 day break in late September and it’s always tempting when you arrive in a different part of the world to want to get out and see destinations right away. After seven years I’ve learned it’s better to enjoy that first break in your new city. See the local attractions. Find a new favorite restaurant. Just exhale and enjoy being home. Save the travel for the December break.

#4 Establish family routines. Just as establishing new routines is important at the beginning of any school year, it becomes doubly so when you find yourself in a new country and new school. I’m determined to start the year as we intend to go-setting up morning drop offs, evening dinners, and bedtime rituals as quickly as possible to help everyone settle in to our new life.

#5 Self-Care. I can be so bad at this one, but it is definitely an important part of those first months of school. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise. In the excitement to prove my worthiness to new colleagues, I need to remember not to take on too many professional responsibilities right away. Cut yourself some slack and be gentle. There’s lots of time to put in the work.

#6 Say yes. As much as you don’t want to overcommit, it’s still important to get yourself out there and meet people. Go to some happy hours, meet other families at the pool, go on the city tour. These things will help forge connections that will sustain you in the coming months.

#7 Laugh. It’s easy to become frustrated with the idiosyncrasies of a different country and bogged down with the details of documentation, waiting on shipments, and paperwork. Keeping a sense of humor will go far in those early days.

Lots of other quick takes over at Kelly’s!

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