Keeping dentist appointments, signing permission slips, remembering ‘Viking’ dress up day (why do they have Viking day anyway?), ensuring homework is completed and managing the daunting after school club schedule – are just a few ‘anxiety prone’ tasks, us moms need to plan out in our heads before going to bed on a weeknight.
For expat moms (or mums for my British readers), it is somewhat trickier. They have the usual plethora of tasks to think about, and then there are ‘things’ that pop up in your head because you have chosen the so-called ‘glorious expat adventure’. As an expat parent, these are the thoughts that I contemplate while laying in bed, miserably trying to fall asleep.
11:00 pm. If I can manage to sleep right this minute, I would get 7 hours of uninterrupted, blissful sleep. Wake up refreshed, energized and ready to start the week.
It’s Sunday tomorrow. It still feels weird to me that Sunday isn’t a holiday here in Qatar!
As I plan the week in my head …
My son has a Physics test this week. Did I ever order the GCSE revision guide? Wait, will my kids even do GCSE’s? I mean how long are we here for – realistically speaking? If we move back home to the US, would it not be easier to move my kids into the US curriculum now. But if we move to another country during our expat adventure, would an IB curriculum be more suited to them?
Mind goes into overdrive.
Google Search: US curriculum vs. British curriculum vs IB?
What’sapp messages to random expat parents in Doha at 11:00 pm: ‘Do your kids thrive in the American curriculum?’ ‘How is the acceptance rate if you are coming from a British School?’ ‘Is the IB curriculum suited to any child?’. (All the time making sure you tailor your message using the appropriate term of ‘mum’ or ‘mom’.
Open another tab in Safari : Go to school websites, because by this time I have second guessed myself on what school curriculum is best for the children. I look at the insanely long wait lists everywhere and simmer down in my quest to change schools.
Whatsapp message to husband (who is peacefully sleeping next to me and will read it in the morning. (This I have found is the best way of communicating with him). ‘I think we need to rethink our curriculum choice for the kiddos. Perhaps I’ll schedule a tour and admission tests. You know just to get a feel for it. Do you want to come along?’
12:00 am. I can still manage to get in 6 hours of sleep.
But I am hosting a tea at my place early next week. It’s not a big affair, just a few friends over at my place. I still need to buy the ingredients for the not so elaborate menu I have planned though. I just remembered I will need iceberg lettuce! It was out of stock in Doha 2 weeks ago. And I need pumpkin puree cans – which of course Doha has only 10 of and they show up during Thanksgiving week. Oh no! This is not looking good. I’ll have to hit 4 different grocery stores, and post on Doha’s Facebook page to see if people have seen these items anywhere. I should probably start asking around now. (Reluctantly opens Facebook)
Needless to say grocery shopping in an expat destination can be slightly overwhelming. However during the last few years, I have learnt to make local substitutions in the recipes I use. But sometimes you just need to have that ‘very’ ingredient because it is crucial to your signature dish. To give you an idea of the severity of hunting down ingredients, here are a few excerpts from a whatsapp group I am on. The names and identities have been changed to protect the privacy of these very resourceful ladies in Doha. But you know who you are.
It’s 1:00 am. I really must shut my brain off.
But as I have opened Facebook to hunt for basic food ingredients, the newsfeed gently tells me that my friend ‘S’ has posted an item for sale on Buy It, Sell It. Intrigue ensues. A little Facebook stalking never hurt anyone. Is she doing an annual spring cleaning (which reminds me that I should too)? Or could it be a move coming up? This is the time for expats to start the moving process. End of the school year is approaching. Oh no, does this mean my children will have to make new friends – again? Or worse, will I have to make new friends!
The last couple of weeks my children have been telling me who is moving back ‘home’ in the summer. Or who has gone away to Denmark to give a test for school admissions there. Or the very lucky dad who has found a new job in Singapore and they are moving to explore South East Asia. Will their close friends also end up leaving? Such is the transient nature of the life here in the expat world. The bright side of this is that most expat children are good at making friends quickly. They are resilient and grow up knowing that friends move every so often. Hopefully this will make them have a diverse group of friends everywhere in the world. ( I knew there was a bright side somewhere!)
It’s 2:00 am. It’s pretty pointless sleeping now. But I’ll try. The week starts tomorrow and I need to begin my quest for the very coveted ‘pumpkin puree’.