09 Mar

3 Countries, 3 Continents, 6 Years – Lessons learnt from moving our family around the world…

Just over two years ago our family arrived in the UK to make a new life for ourselves. We have moved countries every 2 years for the past 6 years, moving around for Vaughan (my husbands) work.

There have been many challenges, big decisions and much uncertainty over this time period, but as I reflect back on our adventures I feel very grateful to have lived such an interesting life!

Our last 6 years has found us move:

Australia ==> Brazil (our boys aged 5 & 7 years)

Brazil ==> Australia (our boys aged 7 & 9 years)

Australia ==> United Kingdom (our boys aged 9 &11 years)

It is a strange feeling heading into a third year in the same place and I must admit that I am not in any great hurry to move again just yet!

We can only choose from what we have in front of us. We are given choices every day. We can choose to be courageous or to be safe.

As Vaughan and I tussled with the pros and cons of the possibly of moving to Brazil we looked at it from every angle, researching the city, the statistics, the language. We spent hours, days, weeks researching, discussing and contemplating.

One of our biggest fears as we explored the opportunity of moving to Brazil was not knowing what impact our moving would have on our boys…this was in the forefront of our minds as we made this first critical decision, to go or not to go.

The way Vaughan and I finally decided if to take the leap and head to Brazil with our boys (5 and 7 at the time) was by asking ourselves… “In 10 years are we going to look back and say we were glad we went or glad we didn’t go?” For both of us the answer was crystal clear… we would be glad we had gone.

When we took this ‘big picture’ view all the challenges and uncertainties faded into being almost insignificant. And if asked the same question today I can truly say that we are glad that we went. It was even more challenging than I could have imagined back then, but I am a wiser, more patient, more empathetic, more confident, more grateful and a more generous human being from having the experiences we have had. I see these qualities in our boys too, and even thought there have been huge struggles for them, they too have developed complex and unique parts of their own personalities. Would I choose the same again?… In a heartbeat!

Third Culture Kids - Growing up among worldsA wonderful book that was recommended to me by an expat friend is “Third Culture Kids” by …Having personally grown up in the same place for my entire childhood (a small farm in rural Australia) I had no personal experience of how our new lifestyle would affect our boys… this book help me to see the pros and cons of living and growing up outside our passport country…It helped us put strategies in place to ensure they maintain a connections with the things that are important. I would highly recommend it for anyone contemplating a change of country with children.

Some of the lessons I have learnt over the past 6 years are these:

  1. Fear of the unknown is normal, healthy and needs balancing with courage, research and faith
  1. When we are challenged – we grow
  1. We are not aware of what we are truly capable of until faced with challenges to overcome
  1. A coach is an enormous support during the upheaval of moving countries

Our first move was the toughest, in lots of ways that is always going to be the case. But one of the things that stands out for me as a big difference between the first and subsequent moves is that for the first move I didn’t have a coach… In later moves my coach was an enormous support for me (and therefore for our family) each time we have relocated. There is always so much to do in what seems like so little time. My coach helped me to get clear about what was most important and what I could let go of. Each move brought different challenges, but each time my coach helped me to stay grounded, focused and (relatively) calm. For anyone who has gone through something similar you will know that there are often sleepless nights, not only coming up to the actual move, but also well before that as you attempt to make the correct decision regarding every aspect of your current and future life!

And so if you are facing a big move in your life -be it your first or one of many – I would recommend a coach. A coach can help smooth out the bumps in the road, and this can be a lifesaver when your energy reserves are hitting rock bottom!

I am extremely grateful that I can now look at each challenge that I face, and overcome, to be a blessing. Each time I get through a challenge I am growing, becoming more resourceful and more able to deal with whatever comes next.

xo Tina


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