People assume that the hardest part about moving overseas is leaving your friends and family behind. That was tough. Others believe that starting fresh in a new place is the greatest obstacle. That was not always smooth sailing either. Ultimately, the hardest adjustment for me during the move was becoming a stay-at-home mom. It was a challenge to establish a routine, create an identity outside of the career that had defined my adult life, keep the kids entertained, and settle into a new place. Leaving the office allowed me to see that staying at home didn’t have to be the end of a career as long as I was open to the many possibilities the world had to offer.

Making the decision to stop working

For me it was not an easy decision to walk away from my job. I had put so much time, effort and energy into building a career. However, the draw of starting fresh somewhere else was too great. For many trailing spouses, moving goes hand-in-hand with putting careers on hold. There are a variety of reasons for this, including laws preventing spouses from acquiring work visas and not having the certifications to practice specialized fields in your adopted country. If not working is not an option for you, there are many places and career fields to consider especially with remote work becoming so popular.

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I also realized that I really wanted to spend more time with my children. The way things were going, it didn’t feel like I was ever going to see them enough when they were awake. If I wanted to have that time with them while they were still in their cute, cuddly, mischievous toddler phase, there was no time like the present. I was in for a rude awakening.

The stay-at-home grind

Some days were a lot easier and much more fulfilling than others. I found that doing a few simple things helped motivate me on those other days that were not so easy.

Create a schedule:

It doesn’t matter if it is digital or written down on a giant whiteboard that you put up on the most prominent wall of your room. All that matters is that you find a system that makes it possible for you to stick to it. The quickest way for me to feel like I wasn’t making use of all this time I had was to squander precious hours. A plan creates some order for the hours that stretch endlessly before you each day.

Set specific goals and work toward accomplishing them each day:

That schedule you make needs to include the small tasks you need to cross off each day to move closer to reaching whatever goal you set. For me, that means writing lists of what I need to get done each day – for the family, myself, and the household – to keep everything running like a well-oiled machine. It helps me prioritize what needs to get done and prevent multiple “to dos” from getting lost in the shuffle.

It also helps me carve out time for tasks related to broader goals. I have seriously found it to work great for anything I have wanted to accomplish. Want to write a book? Set aside a couple of hours each day to focus on nothing but work related to that end. Want to get in shape? Set a realistic workout schedule and stick to it.

Be flexible:

It might sound a bit simplistic to say to set a goal and schedule in the tasks to get it done, and in many ways, it is that simple. However, I have learned that since my motivations change daily, I need to be flexible about my schedule if any of those tasks are going to get done.

Stay connected to friends and family:

The combination of moving to another country and leaving the workforce can be particularly isolating. Keeping a bridge to the outside world to stay connected with what’s going on outside your bubble is so important.

Just like with any other decision, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. Even if it is a choice you make willingly, it’s hard to fully prepare for the reality. How have you adjusted to staying at home in a new country?

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