My new Shoe as an Expat Mum in Switzerland – Part 2

By |Published On: November 4th, 2016|

by Becky Clifford  /  Photography Andaleeb Lilley

PART 2

Note from the Founder: Our Editor Mums Stories took the time to share with us about her experience moving to a new country as a trailing spouse and becoming an Expat Mum. An experience that people here in Switzerland usually don’t talk about much, except for the humorous side of it. Perhaps most of us try to hide their nervousness behind humour and jokes. However starting from scratch can be stressful and overwhelming, especially without the supportive network of your family and friends around you and without a job to go to every morning and talk to someone about dealing with simple daily events.  Here are the tips Becky gave to newcomers and Expat Mums in Heels:

4. Take inventory of those things you may really miss about home and find a way to get them. For me it may sound silly but it was peanut butter. The nut butters that I once knew are no longer. Back in the states, I would spend a lot of time in the nut butter aisle at the local supermarket surveying every kind of peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, even powdered peanut butter imaginable and deciding what I was going to try that week. I just love nut butters. I love making balls out of oatmeal using different types of nut butters, I love melting peanut butter in my oatmeal, I love a dollop on an apple, some spread on a rice cake. I’m obsessed with the Wild Friends variety of different flavors and their website has amazing recipes and I just love that it was started by two college girls in their kitchen. The vanilla espresso almond butter was becoming my all time favorite. Here in the supermarket, I have been lucky if I can find 2 brands of peanut butter amongst a sea of shelf space dedicated to Nutella and some (I’m sure tasty) jams and spreads if you are into that. The realization that I could kiss my nut butter variety “Tschuss” hit me pretty hard. Luckily, there are ways to order online! And last time we went to the states, my checked suitcase was 5 pounds over and Stan’s was five pounds under. The man behind the counter told us we could take 5 lbs out of my bag and put into Stan’s. Well, you can imagine what came out – a few jars.

5. Join a MUMS group. There are many!! If your kids are older, you may find other moms naturally through school events etc. With Kira being 3, I immediately joined the International Mom and Kids Club and this opened me up to so many expat moms. And then around the neighborhood, I have met some swiss moms at the playground. I went to a viewing of Bad Moms the other night and the theatre was packed with moms all laughing together because it is a bond and a job like no other. It is an emotional roller coaster and I truly believe after raising children and taking care of a family, women can do anything after that.

6. Feed your passions and eventually a job will ,come. I really wanted to do something for work outside of being a mum. This is not to say being a mum isn’t enough. I think every mum who is trying is “enough” and should believe so about herself. I myself was used to getting a paycheck and I also feel like I want to contribute somehow and share my passion with those around me. But again, that can’t come overnight. So basically I try to do the things that bring me joy – baking, writing, spending time outside and I know eventually I will find something.

7. Be kind to yourself. It’s a process. When I first arrived it felt more like a holiday. I could not really believe this was my new “home”. Once that part fizzled, I quickly realized I needed some sort of routine and establishing that was difficult. There are MANY options and many people that will give you ideas on how to acclimate, what things to check out, and sometimes it can be informational overload. My brain some days just didn’t have enough room to soak it all up, I was still learning my new phone and pin number. So anytime I had a really tough day, I tried to remind myself that if I pulled back and looked at the bigger picture – the tough days were getting slowly further and further apart. The other thing that was really challenging was how much being a mom is self-motivating. Having a full time job as a financial analyst even on my sluggish days, projects would come in or someone would come into my office and we would connect and I would be inspired to continue cranking. Then I would go home to a change of scenery, be happy to be home and spend some time with Kirabelle and on the weekends we really got a chance to catch up. As a stay at home mother in a new country – I spend a lot of time at my house, or shall I say flat? And sometimes it feels like a change of scenery is totally needed. Moving your life is a process. Those days that I figured something out ,totally start to build confidence and energy and I build on those. I can’t express how proud I was when I first ordered a cappuccino through the drive thru in Deutsch and they understood me! It is easy to get baffled when someone yells at me at the Okiehauf for recycling something improperly, but if I remember to be kind to myself and remember that I wasn’t born knowing how to live in Swiss life – then my day goes much better.

8. Take Sunday to reeeeelax and recharge because moving abroad is a process and as a mum, you need the rest! So does your family.   At first it was hard for me to comprehend not being able to go to a store on any day at any hour if I forgot something. I fought welcoming this change but I now like it. Life is so busy. Being a mum is so busy. Take the day. Relax. Have a slow, warm loving meal together with lots of laughs. Go to a park. Go do something touristy. Take a nap. Take this day.

So I guess what I am saying is that moving abroad is sort of like putting on a new heel. At first it can be tight, it can hurt your feet, it can make you question the purchase …but eventually it can fit like a glove and make you walk a little taller, a little prouder, and that is when magic happens……

Kira is wearing Little Man Happy Bowl Dress Knockout and leggings from Stadtlandkind

Becky is wearing Princess goes Hollywood, available at GLOBUS

Photoshoot at ROOOM Kids Design

Read PART 1 

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About the Author: Tsitaliya Mircheva

Tsitaliya is a writer and fashion journalist for more than 20 years. She founded Mums in Heels 10 years ago and keeps growing and evolving together with her community or fashionable mums and responsible consumers. Fashion and Wellness are her most favourite topics to write about.