Saturday, 15 January 2011

The expat family trap

We're now back home in the sandpit after a lovely long break in the UK. It was a real tonic to see some snow, some ice, and yes, even a bit of rain (although I have to say we're rather glad to be back in the land of blue sky again - there's only so much cold weather you can enjoy!) And of course it was also very special spending Christmas with our families.

But having said that...

...It's absolutely incredible how difficult it can be staying with your family for long periods of time!

I've come to the conclusion that it's an inevitable part of the expat experience that your family becomes a thorny issue. After all, you can't just drive to see them for a weekend - the only chance you have is during either annual leave or during a visit they make to see you. Either option is very full-on - there are no half-measures. This means you spend all day, every day together, and obviously this isn't always going to work. In our case, both our families are hard to deal with for extended periods of time. Add to this our son, who is now officially everyone's favourite family member, and you get a difficult cocktail. Everyone wants to see our son for as long as possible.

For example - on our recent trip, we spent a week with my parents and a week with my husband's father. For our third week, we went to stay in a cottage in Cornwall for some very crucial time for just the three of us. Half-way through the week, my Mum rang us up and basically demanded that we should end that holiday early so that we could spend an extra night with them before we flew off from Heathrow. An extra night, that is, on top of the night we were already planning to spend with them before we left. I refused, saying that despite loving her and my Dad very much, our holiday time was precious too. She was pretty grumpy about it, but accepted it. It was just an upset we could have done without.

It's a very difficult issue from all sides. Obviously we want to see our families. We love them, and we miss them. But we also want some holidays to ourselves, and more to the point, to places other than the UK! Talking of which, we're off for a week in the sun together in March. We can't wait...

I wonder if any other expats out there are having a similar experience?


  1. Oh my, that sounds like what we go through with here with our family. We might as well be in an entirely different country. They all bicker over our time and get possesive when we fly up to NY to see them.

    I'm sure your ready for a vacation from you vacation. Glad is was a safe trip for you!

  2. I'm about to start the expat life with my (soon to be) husband, the family issues have started already with who gets to visit when etc! I have been reading your blog for a while and have just started my own. I like reading the "pilot wives" blogs as I too am a pilot's wife, however I am also a pilot myself so I see it all differently too!




Relationship Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory