Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keeping Connected In Our Crazy Expat Life

I am a relational hound. I love and appreciate both the family I come from and the one we were blessed to help create. I know they say that blood is thicker than water but I'll tell you, my friends are right up there because they are the extended family I've chosen.

In my husband's line of work we move ... a lot. My seven year old has lived in four homes and gone to two schools so far. Yet, I value continuity, consistency and deep relational connection so very, very much.

So what can we do to foster those things as we move, move, move? This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is what we are able to do in this season of life. I am also reminded that no on promises us tomorrow, so what we do today is always important. Have I said "I love you" to my husband and kids today? Have I actively tried to "be a blessin'" to them as I tell my kids to be every time they leave the house?

Here is my list:

1) The biggest constant in my children's lives are us right now. Bill works a lot but if he has to work at night he often comes home to put the kids to bed and so that we can connect about our day.
2) Praise the Lord for Skype. My parents got to see Swift's early steps from the other side of the planet, live! The kids can talk to their cousins. I get to wear my jammies for all my near and dear ones to see and mock (smile). I "see" my friends and family for free. It has to be one of the biggest boons ever for we global nomads.
3) We do have a family meal and it is breakfast. Bill's work day is too long to make it dinner. I imagine as the kids get older and schedules change this will change, but I am grateful for it now.
4) We have some routines. I sit with the kids for their after school snack to ask and hear about their days. We all snuggle up to read every night before bedtime. We have pizza and ice cream out once a week or so. We go to Sunday worship together. Not terribly creative - but very comforting.
5) We don't do play dates or activities on weekends because it is family time ... unless it is a whole family play date and we like those!
6) I try to celebrate both the little firsts and the big milestones. Any holiday is an excuse to celebrate something together.
7) The bedrock foundation under all this is primarily our faith. Our second priority is our marriage and from those two, we hope, the deepest and most satisfying connections are forged on all levels.

This is my first mental pass at this and I'll give it more thought. Go see what others are thinking on this topic here. Heidi has a "Living Lovely with Family" Mr. Linky going on!



Crystal said...

Laurel, That is a great list and I thank you for the tips for my own family!! Can I email you privately? My email ( have some questions and I know you have great knowledge regarding the lives of Diplomats and their families. At least I am assuming that from your blog. Blessings to you and thanks again for the tips in keeping connected~

Anonymous said...

That's a great list! My mom and I definitely need to figure out Skype for when I'm hopping all over the globe. :)

Heidi said...

Your list is terrific, Laurel! I think it is the small, comforting, consistent things that make a big difference in the long run. My mom grew up overseas and she would definitely agree. She said that home was wherever her family was. Thanks for participating!!

Emmanuelle said...

Hi Laurel, thank you for these helpful, practical tips.
Your post was very inspiring, especially since I had recently been mulling over the importance of rituals and routines for us expats. Your words helped me clarify my own thinking and allowed me to finally put my musings into writing. Thanks again and have a great day!

SmallWorld at Home said...

I love your #7. That is SO beautiful! What an interesting life you must have! And I have a Laurel! I think it's the most beautiful name! (And if I had another girl, she would probably be Lindsay!)

Mimi said...

Such great ideas.

Karen said...

What a great list. You just inspired me to email an old college friend. I love all of the Holi pictures in your others posts too.

Brenda said...

Ahhh, "comforting" is good! I like your routines!