We have been living in Geneva for almost three months now. So hard to believe! It is amazing, I won’t lie, and despite mourning how convenient everything was back in the States (drive-thru Starbucks, fluent English speakers, abundant and free parking), living in Europe is proving to be a huge blessing. There isn’t one day we take it for granted.
I won’t, however, over-glorify our lives. I was cautious of doing that before we even arrived as friends stared at us wide-eyed and giddy after hearing we were moving to Europe. We were very excited, too, but knew the transition to expat life would be a challenge. The danger with over-romanticizing things is that they can sometimes fall well below your expectations, causing you to become unhappy with a reality that doesn’t quite match what you think it should.
We’re living in Europe, not just vacationing here. (Although, wow, do we have some great vacay destinations to choose from.) Life is both beautiful and hard — no matter where you are!
The Switch From Career to Stay-at-Home
Switzerland was a new beginning in many ways for all of us. I chose to leave my 12-year consulting career behind. When we move back to the States, or maybe even before, I will rejoin the 9 to 5 crowd. Are there things I miss about having a job outside of home? You bet! Are there things I love about staying home? Yes! It’s okay to love aspects about two different lifestyles.
This stay-at-home mom life has its challenges but as with any situation — it’s what you make of it. I’ve always been of the seemingly unpopular opinion that you have to carve out time for yourself to be happy so you can then be a happy parent. There are many messages out there that say in order to be a good mother, you must be a martyr to your children and sacrifice 100% of yourself. That is just not true and will cause more harm than good in the future.
Instead of focusing on the good and bad of working vs. stay-at-home, here are a few things I loved about the cubicle life and reasons I’m loving the home life.
Reasons I Loved Having a Career
1 // The paycheck
Oh, validation in the form of cash. I do miss you! Getting that monthly direct deposit in the bank account sure makes tolerating Bob from upper management much easier. Paying your own bills, being an equal contributor to your household income and having a little left over for a relaxing Target $1 bin aisle spree. No, money doesn’t make you happier but the feeling of independence that comes along with that paycheck is underrated!
2 // Conversing with other adults about non-kid stuff
Life outside of milestone comparisons, what age you should start timeout, and Peppa Pig? This is one of the biggest things I miss about working. I never knew it before but it’s actually more exhausting to hold a conversation about how Susie isn’t pronouncing her words correctly and where you can find the best organic produce than sitting through a mind-numbing HR presentation. Thank God for the few mom friends I do have that can adult talk with me. Sanity savers, for sure!
3 // Dressing up
I don’t care what you say about fashion, when you dress up a little, it boosts your confidence and gets you into a different headspace. Going from dressing professionally everyday to, well, mom-ing it up, has been an adjustment. My blazers just hang in my closet, taunting me. But the good thing about living in Europe is you don’t encounter many unkempt people. I might wear jeans a lot more but I certainly would never step out in yoga pants. It’s a good kind of motivation to not let yourself completely go.
Reasons I Love Staying at Home
1 // Getting to know my son better
Of course every mother knows their child — more intimately than anyone else can. But there are certain nuances I missed while I was working. Like the fact that Mason has the best eyesight in the world and can spot a bird in a tree from a mile a way. That he loves working with his hands and can never have enough Play Dough. That his belly laughs are endless when I use my terrible French accent to tease him (sidenote: I cannot match the laughs he shares with my husband; those are the ones that really make my heart swell).
When you’re in a rush to get home from work after an hour commute, eat dinner and get everyone to bed so you can all do it again the next day, it doesn’t leave much time for the details. Weekends used to be overshadowed by errands, even though we always made time for playgrounds. And although Mason tests our limits with tantrums that rival well, I can’t even think of a comparison, it’s nice to have one-on-one time to really get to know his little quirks and what makes him tick.
2 // Free to choose what we do, where we go and who we hang out with
Not being barraged by 20 different personalities, sharing cubicles and having to work on something important with them is a huge perk of staying home. If Mason is in a mood or it’s storming outside, guess what! We don’t have to go anywhere or see anyone. On the flip side, we can also make plans/play dates with friends we do want to see. And we get to enjoy living here more. Want to trot down to a park by Lake Geneva? Why not. The luxury of choosing who makes up your day and where you go is a freedom I haven’t experienced in a long time.
3 // Making peace with simple
In a world that’s always telling you that you should be doing more for your future, when did we miss that the present is all we have? Life has become much more simple now that I’m staying home. It doesn’t come naturally to me — I get bored easily — but it’s forced me to be more present with Mason and with life in general. It’s so nice to start tuning into the fact that busy isn’t better. A new concept for me.
I have more to say on the whole “stay at home vs. work outside the home” topic but thought this was a good place to start. Do you agree with the highlights I listed? What are the things you love about what you do? I’m always happy to see comments so leave something below!