We’re just beginning our third year in Doha, Qatar. Third years are somewhat well known in the international community as the charmed year-the time when you’ve mastered the basics of a new place, have ironed out the difficulties, and can reap the rewards of your early hard work. For us the third year is doubly sweet as our second year was filled with transition with a new baby and a new job for Paul. After several years of major changes the routine and predictability of a known place is welcome.
We all arrived back together earlier this week. It’s early-even before the new teachers have come-and the kids are a bit bored by the stifling heat and empty neighborhood. It’s not ideal for them, but conquering jet lag and grocery shopping before heading back to work are really important for me to feel settled. It also gives me time to think about what I want out of this year.
Year 1 was survival in a new home and a new school.
Year 2 was survival with a new babe and a new job.
I ache for more with year 3. I want focus on the great blend of predictability and adventure that living in Doha offers. Our community, our school, and our day to day lives are very similar to what they would be in the United States. Our kids fill their days with sports, outside play, and social engagements and all of this is a good thing. It keeps us grounded. But also want to infuse a bit more adventure into our daily lives-remember why we live overseas and find more time to enjoy the unique characteristics of this area.
So, Year 3 Goals:
- Build Sustainable Family Routines
- Find My Tribe
- Focus on My Well Being
- Infuse Adventure
Build Sustainable Family Routines
With nearly all of us in different divisions-Paul in High School, Noah and Sophie in Middle School, Stella and I in Lower Elementary, and Clara at home it can be really challenging to find time to connect during the week. A few things that seem to help:
- Menu planning and nightly dinners together
- No screen time from 5-8 every night-this includes phones and computers with the exception of homework and Seahawks football (which we watch as a family)
Find my Tribe
For me, I found Doha a bit difficult to break into socially. I had some trouble forming deeper relationships and building my community. I’ve noticed that the easier a place is to live, the harder it can be to form new relationships. People just aren’t as dependent on one another as they are in more difficult locations. Lots of that has changed, but it is still a work in progress. Making time to continue to form and deepen relationships is really important for me this year.
- Book Club-I love the monthly get togethers and conversation, but sometimes when the date rolls around midweek it can feel really hard to get there. Do it anyway.
- Make time for dinner dates and yoga afternoons with friends.
- Shared dinners and Thursday nights at the pool
- And my super secret project that I’m really excited about and really nervous to launch. But it’s there and I want to make it happen.
Focus on My Well Being
I deny and deny and deny, but the truth remains that I need to take good care of myself to take good care of my people. Now, it’s not just Paul who notices when I’m not doing a good job-it’s Noah and Sophie too. Having 4 kids and teaching kindergarten means I am constantly pouring out into others. And I love it. Except when I’m totally empty. I need to keep my cup full so I can skim off the top for my people.
- Run. Train. Race.
- Sleep-Once Clara is over her jet lag it’s time to sleep train her. She’s adorable and loving and I can’t get enough of her, but I need more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- Stop pumping. I intend to keep breastfeeding when I’m home in the morning and evenings, but I need to let go of the pumping while I’m at work. It takes a lot of time and energy and since Clara will be over a year I feel like I can step back from nursing during the day.
Doha gets a lot of flack for being boring, but there really are some great things to take advantage of when you plan.
- Dinners at the Souq. I love the heavy aroma of shisha in the night sky as we wander through the shops. We need to head there more often.
- Beach mornings. I love heading to the beach here and if we go early we can enjoy it before it is too crowded and hot. Maybe I’ll finally get that paddleboard I’ve been wanting…
- Art classes offered at Virginia Commonwealth and the Museum of Islamic Art offer a nice way to get off the compound and do something I love.
- Look for opportunities and take them!
Staying focused on these ideas and reflecting on them monthly will help me feel like we’re moving forward and enjoying the life we’ve chosen here.