For many expat families with children, February marks the beginning of the end of the school year. It’s downhill from here all the way, and parents, teachers, admin and kids all rejoice.
And yet…… the next 3 ½ months can seem to go by excruciatingly slowly. Here are some tips for expat families dealing with the beginning of the end of the year blues.
Tip # 1: Stay focused on the present.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but in fact when you start to plan for something in the future, that “something” can seem to be more important than the present. Parents can help their kids stay in the present by talking about what they did at school today and what they’ll do tomorrow.
When kids start to focus on the summer, bring them back to the present. Likewise when you notice your mind fleeing to the summer, bring it back to your body and your breath.
Tip # 2: Take 3 breaths.
This is an extension of #1. When you notice your mind flitting around, or when you feel down or anxious, stop what you’re doing and take 3 focused breaths. Start by placing both hands on your belly and when you breathe in, feel the belly expand and when you exhale feel it contract. Put a count to each complete breath and do this 3 times. You will immediately feel more calm and collected. You can do this at any time, as the breath is something you always have with you. Kids take to this amazingly well.
Tip # 3: Renew your commitment to being in your host country, even if it’s just for the rest of the year.
This is a wonderful morale booster for expat families. Think of something you haven’t gotten around to doing, either on your own or as a family. Then make plans to do this for the remainder of the school year. Maybe it’s playing tennis, or taking a class or teaching English at the local school. Maybe it’s finding an NGO that your family can get involved with on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This will help to keep you mentally and emotionally on the ground.
The point is that you’re where you are anyway, and you’ll be here through the end of the school year. So relax, settle in, and a by product will be that the rest of the year will seem to fly by.