Expat Spain: Problems And Solutions For Raising Your Family Abroad

Madrid resident and international parent coach, Denise Suarez addresses common issues readers of the Madrid Metropolitan may face when raising their families abroad and how to solve them

Raising a family abroad can be tough. Through personal and professional experience, I have talked with several parents raising their kids abroad. Here are some problems most families face when settling down and raising kids in Spain.

The lack of support. If we were raising our family back home, we’d probably have family members or friends we can rely on for anything. From babysitting to borrowing tools, we know whom we can call on. That whole support system disappears when we move abroad. Even if we were lucky enough to build a community before having kids, things change when little ones come into the picture.

The difference in culture. No matter where we’re from, Spain is going to do some things differently. That’s just all part of living abroad. However, one thing that seems to be uniquely Spanish is the bedtime. Parents all over the world are shocked at how late kids here sleep! That doesn’t make it right or wrong. It’s just different from what we’re used to.

The burden of doing it alone. When we don’t have family around, we can sometimes feel the pressure of being everyone for our children. We are so focused on our children and making sure that we’re meeting their needs that we don’t have time to even think about ourselves.

In my work with intercultural families, I have helped parents solve for these issues by focusing on the following:

Creating your own support system. This support system will look totally different from what you have back home, and that’s okay. You might have to make the extra effort to make friends with other parents at your children’s school, or push yourself out of your comfort zone to meet new people. It might mean acknowledging that you need hired help. Support comes in all shapes and sizes. What’s important is that you find the support that works for you and your family.

Accepting the differences. Differences are an opportunity to question your beliefs. You can let go of expectations and decide what’s best for your family. Sometimes it’s adapting to the culture you live in while other times it may be following what you did growing up. There may even be moments where what you choose to do has nothing to do with where you live or where you’re from! It is all about knowing your family values and working towards your long-term goals, no matter where you live.

Making time for yourself. While it’s true our children need us, the person who is always our number one priority should be ourselves. When we put down the weight of having to care for everyone and instead trust in our family to take care of each other, we feel lighter and freer.

This is what we’ll be doing in Take Back Your Time, an in-person time-management workshop focused on self-care for moms. During the workshop you will…

Form a special bond with other moms as you share experiences as well as lunch and a mojito!

Get clear on your family’s schedule and how you want your family to spend their time.

Make time for yourself – not just on that day, but for every day after.

After the event you will feel relaxed and refreshed. Ready to take on the rest of the day – and the rest of your life.

Sign up here.

Share The Madrid Metropolitan: The only Madrid English language newspaper