Living abroad comes with many challenges, some expected (language barrier), some not (buying milk every day!?). Here are a few of the challenges I have experienced in the first two weeks….
1. Sharing a room with a 2-year old
To be fair, I was doing this for 8 weeks prior to moving when I was living with my parents. The issues are the same-I sneak in every night for bed, and in the morning Nathan is such a light sleeper that if I get up to use the bathroom he wakes up. So I usually spend a good hour crossing my legs and hoping my bladder won’t explode-because as the mantra goes-NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY! LOL.
This is a Nathan-specific challenge. He drinks milk like its going out of style. The bottles of milk are much smaller so I find myself buying 2 bottles every two days. I can’t tell if he is drinking more milk or if it’s really just the size of the bottles. Here is a picture of Nathan’s sippy cup next to a bottle of german milk.
3. German Playgrounds
I have found two playgrounds for Nathan to play. The first one is very small and mostly has sand for him to play in. But everytime I go there is a child Nathan’s age for him to play with. But there isn’t a ton to do-although it’s next to the duck pond and that’s a HUGE hit. So this park is good for the time being. The second park I found is HUGE. It has a ton of stuff-however most of it I don’t understand! The mechanisms make no sense to me…so I am not sure how to help Nathan use them. The other half are too big for him. I was fairly certain I was going to break my arm or leg or worse on this playground. Every slide had some strange ladder or rope climb to get to the top of the slide. (Doesn’t anyone believe in stairs??) I had to carry Nathan to the top and then go down a slide not meant for adults-or not meant for American sized adults.
Here is the small park Nathan made friends at and was able to happily play on anything.
What do you do with these items???
Mommy escaping certain death on these toys.
But we did manage to find some fun playground activities:
I am giving myself a pass for this challenge. I am going to learn german-it’s my goal to at least have some conversational german, but for now, I use hand gestures and English. Most people speak english but I would really like to enhance my own experience here by learning the language and culture. I just need time.
This is the biggest challenge we are currently facing. There is a housing shortage and a ton of Americans coming into Germany due to a base closure and we are all clamoring for the same houses. We have seen over a dozen houses in the past 10 days and its overwhelming. The houses run the gamut and its hard to know the best neighborhood to live in. I have to think about where I want to spend everyday-since I won’t be working. Not only do I need to be comfortable in the house, but I also have to love the neighborhood so I can take Nathan out and about. It’s difficult to know after 2 weeks what the best neighborhood is to live in. I’m sure I have mentioned this before-but our housing has been all-consuming since I arrived. Dan has been dealing with it since February. Another challenge is that all the houses coming up aren’t available until July-and our current hotel room is only available until May 29th. The thought of moving twice (and possibly to smaller hotel room) seems daunting. I know that we will find a house and all of this will be for good story making one day-but for now, I just want to find a home and get Nathan his bed and toys back!
6. How to Spend my Days
Maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself, but I feel like I immediately need to fill Nathan’s days up with educational and fun activities that he was getting at school. Instead, I spend a lot of time allowing him to watch movies on the iPad and play educational apps while I look for housing and deal with our main challenge. I can tell Nathan gets bored quickly and my imagination is only taking me so far for varying activities-after all I heavily relied on daycare for most of this. I hate to admit it, but I have to learn to be a full time parent again and it’s not easy. The last time I was home with Nathan all day long he was only 11 months old. He didn’t walk or talk and while there were challenges (hello colic), the toddler stage is the most interactive stage-and the desire to entertain him and educate him is powerful. The means in which I excel is my challenge.
Nathan’s entertained in a variety of ways!
There are many more challenges to come and I will definitely revisit this topic as time goes on and we settle in. But for now, I am taking it all in, trying to enjoy these moments-I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to stay at home and watch my beautiful boy grow-as he throws horrifying tantrums, pukes all over himself in the car, laughs at his silliness, plays with his cars and iPad all day, cries when he is frustrated and plants the best hugs and kisses a mommy ever felt (while saying “this is MY mommy”)-I know this time with him is fleeting and I plan on cherishing the good with the bad.