Category: personal

Bouncing Back from Pandemic Meltdowns

Bouncing Back from Pandemic Meltdowns

We held an exciting Webinar  with Trova Health about managing our emotions as parents. 

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the structure and stability in our daily lives can disappear at a moment’s notice. A difficult time for parents, adapting schedules and managing inevitable meltdowns as their child is sent home from day-care for the 4th week in a row. We all have a limit and grown-ups are certainly not exempt from tantrums at times like this. 

Luckily, Springtime, wherever you are, gives us an opportunity to start anew. As the flowers begin to bloom and we celebrate the Spring holidays, let’s think about where we are and how to hit the reset button.

What Causes Meltdowns?

Emotional “dysregulation” is quite common for kids, but we forget it happens with adults. We move into survival mode, counting down minutes until bedtime and think about solutions to chaos rather than finding moments of joy and peace. Meltdowns occur in all humans due to a dysregulation of the nervous system. If we are unaware of what is happening, we stay in paralysis or survival mode until we burn out, blow up or both! 

What Do Meltdowns Look Like?

During our webinar, we heard many great (sometimes funny) examples of pandemic meltdowns. It seems the pandemic was very successful in adding unpredictable layers of stress to existing chaos. Between family members testing positive for covid, to homeschooling, new jobs, remote working and the sheer uncertainty of the pandemic, it’s no wonder we cracked under the pressure. While dealing with some or maybe all the above, it’s common to find yourself raising your voice to your kids. A meltdown can look like shouting or arguing, but also bitterness, resentment and burnout are common traits.  Each parent is different. Identifying what you look like during a meltdown can be the first step to preventing them.

The Medicine

So how do we prevent meltdowns? The answer is simple: give yourself exactly what you are seeking. This is where we dive into what we really want…the deeper desire. If a parent says, “I want a break!” what does that break look like and what will it bring? Peace? Relief? Once we slow this down, what we see is that as parents, we don’t allow ourselves to feel what we want to feel until we have the THING (the goal, the “break.”) Ironically, as we slow down, tune into our own nervous system, feel what’s happening for us, we gift ourselves the exact thing we truly desire! We’ve given ourselves the break. 

For example: If you come home from a long day and see you kids sitting around in a messy room with no chores done, what do you do? Shout? The perfect meltdown. Play back this movie in slow motion and see how neutral this situation is. The kids are sitting on the couch. That’s it. You may experience other thoughts like: “My kids are lazy, and I do everything around here.” Notice how these thoughts make you feel: upset, disrespected, judgemental, etc and see where these thoughts and feelings lead to.

The Inner Work

Doing the “inner work” goes beyond self-care. It’s paying attention to yourself and honouring exactly what you desire and need. In the above scenario, the parent probably desires relaxation or connection. They’re probably hungry and thirsty too! So, let’s practise pressing pause, diving into the deeper desire and give ourselves what we need before reacting. What becomes empowering is noticing that peace and joy are no longer dependent on you finally getting that well deserved break. You don’t have to hold out all day to finally be rewarded. You can listen to the smaller signs and fulfil your needs as they arise, taking back your own power.

Hear Yourself Before Demanding to be Heard

Remember, you discover the desire by noticing your behaviour pattern. If you get upset and yell, your deeper desire is most likely to be heard. If your pattern is withdrawal, your deeper desire could be to ‘relax’ or ‘take a break’. When we honour our needs, the triggers are no longer present.

5 practical things you can do before, during and after a meltdown

Slow Down and Connect with Yourself

Slow down your internal world, paying attention to cues or markers that let you know you are outside of your window of tolerance. You might be too “high”- overwhelmed or too “low”- depleted/ burned out. For now, just focus on allowing and accepting the emotions. 

Honour the Need that Arises 

If you desire a break, take it. If you desire peace, feel it. If you desire joy, take a moment to dance in the kitchen or whatever brings you 30 seconds of joy.

Be OK with Taking a “time out” 

Practice a calming technique such as breathing or visualisation. This goes along with self-care and models for your children and spouse that you are tuned into your own needs and limits. You can call it a “break” or “taking 5” and use that time to sit outside or lay down in your room while kids entertain themselves.

Ask for Support 

This is tough to do if you’re living in a new place with less friends or family around. Some parents have found that asking for support via video calls can help. You can ask family or friends to help out with homework by jumping on a Zoom call. This can also work with reading bedtime stories or any other activities you can participate in remotely. If you’re really stuck for friends and family, check out the local community and see if you can build a support network through schools, kids groups or church. 

Connect with kids/ family

Schedule intentional time to do something novel. Our brains crave novelty and connection! Plan a scavenger hunt, play a new game, give your kids a phone and let them direct their own commercial or movie. You can try new food together or dress up in costumes and go to the park! Camping in the living room is always fun or even ask your kids or spouse to plan something they’d love to do…

Watch the Webinar

Emotional dysregulation is addressed with awareness and self-compassion. Slowing down and becoming present is key in these moments of distress. You can watch the webinar here 

What is one thing you can do in the next 24 hours to find your deeper desire?

About Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families connect with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build memories together. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

About Trova Health

Trova health is a digital health and wellness company created specifically for expats, providing mental health and remote care services worldwide. To find out more go here

5 Nature Selfie Tips Every Grandparent Should Master

Taking a Selfie in Nature to Share with Young Children

Hopefully, we all get the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. Many of us, for the first time when we are small children. If we are lucky enough, there are trees to climb, puddles to jump in, sun and rain to feel on our skin, and rainbows to see in the sky. Watching children have their first experiences with nature can be a very special moment to take part in. That is why we want to share how to take a selfie in Nature and share that with your child at a distance. 

How Nature Benefits Young Children

Nature is diverse and beautiful, but also sometimes a bit gross or weird! Having access to nature and witnessing life and growth can be a very stimulating place for young people to be. Encouraging adventure and exploration, discovering new things, and seeing what life has to offer.

For many, nature is a place free from social judgments. Nature does not have an opinion on what you look like or how many friends you have or how smart you are at school. Nature is an even playing ground for all. Nature reminds us that there is so much more to life and the world is much much bigger than any of the problems we are experiencing. Even if your little one is too small to understand this concept, the sense of freedom that nature brings is there to be enjoyed.

5 Steps to Taking a Good Selfie in Nature

Ok so here we are, on a beautiful day out (or maybe it isn’t so beautiful because, hey, nature!) with our little ones and we want to capture some long-term memories. A selfie is a great, easy way to capture a quick photo and immortalize the moment.

If you feel like you need a recap on your selfie-taking skills, check out our article with all the instructions HERE.

  1. A Good Background

First things first – find a beautiful backdrop. Something to stand in front of for your picture. It doesn’t have to be the main feature of your adventure, just something you think would be nice as a background. Let your instincts guide you. Maybe you’re surrounded by wonderful scenery or maybe you spot something charming or funny that you’d like to remember. Don’t get too obsessed with it though, the more people you have in your selfie, the less you will be able to see the backdrop.

  1. Equipment Ready!

Once you’ve found a good spot, let everyone know you’d like to take a quick selfie. As they gather themselves for your photo, you can take the opportunity to open the camera app on your phone. Switch the view to the front-facing camera and decide if you want the flash on or off. Your smartphone will probably have settings automatically set up so there should be very little to prepare.

  1. Get your face and the view!

Once you’ve found a good spot, make sure your face is shown clearly, squeeze in really tight with the object you wish to show. Hold your phone out as far as you can with the front-facing camera on. Hold the phone at eye level to capture your face well (children love faces!). It helps if you are at the front of the photo so you can extend your arm as far as possible, giving you more space to get everyone in.

  1. Make some Adjustments

The good thing about a selfie is that everyone in the photo can see themselves. If the picture doesn’t look good at this stage – maybe it’s too dark or there is something obscuring the photo, now is the time to fix that. You can always send it as is and take the opportunity to have a conversation with your little one at a distance. Ask your little ones ‘Do you think that looks good?’  

  1. Take the Photo

Once you are ready, you can click the button to take the photo. Usually, it’s the big round one at the bottom of the screen. Make sure both your face and the object you are trying to show are in there with your best smile. Take a few! It’s nice to have some options. You can look at them there and then with your little ones or maybe save them for later. If you don’t like the photo, feel free to take another one.

Extra Tips

Here are some other ideas we love to make things even more fun:

 Include Nature

Wherever you are, maybe you can do something fun with your surroundings. Kids tend to pick all sorts of props when they are out in nature so it might be fun for you to do the same and to include these in the photo.

  • You can have sticks for bunny ears or stand in front of a nice tree to give you all angel wings.
  • If it’s dry, maybe grab a handful of leaves and try to take a photo while they float back down to the ground.

Ok, these selfies might be a little hit or miss, you could end up with a great action shot or an absolute mess, but it’s the memories that count!

 A Special Setup

As you don’t see these special people very often and you want to create a special photo that you take every time you’re together. Stand in a circle with your feet together and take a photo of everyone’s shoes. If it’s dry, lie down on the grass with your heads together and take a photo of your faces by stretching your arms out above you. Any assembly you can think of works, the trick is to make sure you take it in exactly the same way, every time you see them. This is a wonderful way to collect memories and watch how much everyone grows over time. 

Alternatively, if you will not see your little one for a long time, take a picture of your shoes or your face in the grass and ask your little one to take one too and send it back!

 Use the Timer!

Did you know that most smartphone cameras have a timer function? There should be a button or icon on your phone screen that looks like an oven timer. When you click this, it should ask you how many seconds you would like to wait before the photo is taken automatically. This is a great trick when needing to set up with props or action shots. You can set the smartphone up on a tree or a rock somewhere and have everyone get into the photo. I once used a can of beans to prop my phone to get a shot of me in the pool!

Click the button you would normally click to take the photo and the timer feature will get started. You should see the countdown on your phone screen. This saves you the bother of clicking the button yourself and you and the little ones can have more time to do whatever it is you want to do for the photo!

To Conclude - The Selfie is Your Friend

You do not need to fear or dislike the selfie. It might be strange or weird at first but that’s okay. If It can take some time to get your head around but remember, it’s a tool. Taking selfies is a great tool for capturing moments and creating memories that you can look back on forever. Don’t worry if you’re a little stiff at first, you’ll soon get the hang of it. It’s all about creating memories that your little ones will have the privilege of looking back on when they are big and all grown up.

Alex Meade is a freelance writer, living in Portugal. Originally from England, she likes to spend her days in the water, improving her surfing skills or learning to wing foil. When she’s not writing or surfing, she teaches yoga near the local beach. You can reach Alex by going to here

About Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

5 Selfie Tips for Grandparents

5 Selfie tips that will change your relationship with your grandchildren

Well, here we are, fully immersed in this ‘selfie’ era. Can you remember a time before selfies? It seems not so long after the smartphone was introduced, with its clever front-facing camera, the selfie was invented. Before this, our self-portraits had more of a ‘point and click’ approach to them. It’s funny to think of now. There was a time in which taking photos of yourself was considered strange, vain or conceited. While many of the younger generations have embraced the success of the selfie, there are a few among us still bewildered by the concept, and that’s ok. It can feel awkward at first, but we’re here to show you how to make it easy. 

How Selfies can Help you Bond with Your Child at a Distance

Within their first year, babies learn to gather information from faces to determine identity, personal characteristics, and emotions. These associations help to shape their relationships with the face in question. Subconsciously, their brain receives information from somebody’s face and thinks ‘that’s Grandad, that’s Grandad’s smile, that’s his nose, that’s the noise he makes when he laughs’. We also learn social cues at this age, building our social skills to understand how other people are feeling. 

Becoming familiar with your face helps build the bond between you and your little one. They’ll start to read your facial expressions and understand your emotions. Having a clear picture of you helps to build memories and associations. If you can’t be there in person, a photo of you is the next best thing to build lasting relationships.

How Do You Take a Selfie?

Ok, let’s be brave. You can do it!

  1. Open the camera app on your smartphone:  On most devices, you’ll see a little symbol, shaped like a camera with two arrows inside. This button switches your camera to face you, rather than facing away from you. Check out the image below, the button you’re looking for is circled but it might be in a different place on your phone. Now you should be able to see your lovely face on screen!

2. Angle your phone: Don’t worry, the front facing camera takes a bit of getting used to. To start with, you might not see the most flattering angle of your face! Its ok, you can readjust the phone position to find a better view. Hold the phone out at arm’s length directly in front of you. Keep your face in the middle of the screen with your eyes at eye level. Now you can try tilting your head to the side or tilting the phone to get a nice picture. It’s best to hold the phone quite far from your face unless you’re looking for a close-up!

3. Take the photo: Make a big smile and click the same button you would do if you were taking a normal photo. It’s usually a big round button at the bottom of the screen. On some phones, you can even use the volume button on the side to take a photo more easily. 

4. Retake the photo: If you’re not happy with your first attempt, take another. You don’t have to love the photo but it’s important to feel accurately represented. The more photos you take, the more comfortable you’ll feel with the concept. Most selfie-takers will tell you that sometimes it can take 50 attempts before settling on the right photo! So don’t worry if you take a lot of pictures. You can easily delete them from your camera roll after by selecting the button that looks like a trash bin. 

5. Send the photo: It’s got to go somewhere right! Make sure you send it to your loved one. If you take the photo using the camera app on your phone, it should save to your camera roll. Then you can click on the app you are using to communicate with your loved ones. This can be any social media app, maybe Facebook messenger or WhatsApp. Select the person you would like to send the photo to – you probably already have a conversation on the go with them. Every app is slightly different but generally, there should be an icon that looks like a picture/landscape. This indicates your stored pictures. Selecting this option should show you your camera roll where you have saved your selfie. Select this picture and hit send.

Some Do’s and Don’ts!

 
Lighting

The best way to take a good, quick selfie is to find some good lighting. Lighting makes so much difference to a photo. Stand somewhere there is natural light, shining from the side – not directly above your head. 

Flash vs No Flash

Usually,  the flash function on your camera will wash out your face and make your eyes go red like a demon. Not always though. Click the little lightning bolt option on your phone screen to experiment having the flash on or off. 

No Photoshop

In this crazy world of selfies we now live in, there are apps you can use to edit your appearance. Take it from us, you don’t need to do that. Your beautiful face does not need editing and your little ones will love you, just as you are. Teach them confidence and self-care by proudly presenting your realistic photo. 

The Benefits of Sharing your Selfie with your Loved One

Studies show that babies and young children LOVE faces. It’s one of the first things they start to connect with when they are born. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself, making silly faces to babies to get them to laugh. This isn’t just entertainment, this is a learning exercise for the little one. Faces are integral to the first few stages of their development. As they grow, their language skills develop. Focus is drawn towards the mouth as they begin learning words and relating these words to meaning. 

To Conclude

It might be scary at first, it might feel weird or just too difficult, but we promise, you’ll get the hang of it. You’ll be sending selfies without a second thought and your little one will be delighted. 

About Alex Meade

Alex Meade is a freelance writer, living in Portugal. Originally from England, she likes to spend her days in the water, improving her surfing skills or learning to wing foil. When she’s not writing or surfing, she teaches yoga near the local beach. You can find more about alex here

About Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

Loneliness: How to Connect and Open Up as an Expat

If you know a little about Greek mythology, you probably have heard about the 10 years of Odysseus’ (or else, Ulysses’) adventures all around the Mediterranean Sea before he eventually reached home. 

Even though he didn’t “sign up for it”, he spent 10 years (plus 10 during the Trojan War) away from his home, and every single day of these years was a lonely journey, a resistance to resignation and despair, and a painful reminder that there is nowhere like home. 

Ithaca, Odysseus’s home place, is a symbol of the roots we all leave behind us when we start a new life at a different place.

Why expat life feels lonely

The expat life is lonely. Period. It doesn’t matter whether you like the new place or not, it still feels lonely at times. 

Feeling lonely as an expat is quite a normal stage in the integration process. In fact, it starts even before you land at our next destination: you are in the middle of packing your stuff and you are already flooded by a nostalgic feeling of all the places and the faces that you will definitely miss.

And then you move to the new country: you are immersed in a completely new culture with a different set of values and way of life, you meet different people, you don’t speak the language, you miss your friends and family, but most of all, connecting with the people around you is really hard (especially in the beginning). You have no idea where to start, how to approach people, and most of all, how long it will take until you feel at home.

How to Make it Feel Like Home and Connect as an Expat

 
1. Acceptance is key. 

First of all, let’s accept two things: 1. it will never be exactly like home and 2. It’s ok to feel lonely. With these two realizations, you are actually relieving yourself from the heavy and sometimes unrealistic expectations that you have to make expat life feel good all the time. This is your life, with its ups and downs, with its ebb and flow, and you are doing your best, but you know that this feeling of no-local, or outcast, is a feeling that will take years to go away.

2. Embrace difference

Accept that we are different and that’s ok. Yes, you are different from the locals or the other cultures you meet, and that is exactly what makes you interesting to others. Instead of believing that you are the outsider, start seeing yourself as a person making the most of this diverse canvas you live in.

3. Learn the local language (verbal and non-verbal). 

Making the decision to learn the language is a very smart one. Not only because you will need it for your daily communication with the locals, but also because you will feel more alike and less different from your surroundings. You will belong. Moreover, it’s very important to observe how the locals greet, laugh, or express their feelings. It’s a useful lesson in order to communicate with them better, but also to avoid misunderstandings.

4. Aligned socializing. 

Choose social events wisely so that they match your background, values and interests. It has been proven that we feel less lonely when we join in activities with people with the same hobbies, experiences and values.

5.  Be patient. 

In those meetings, everybody is scared and everybody is protecting themselves from getting hurt. Real, authentic, meaningful relationships take time. When interacting with like-minded individuals, try to practice empathic listening and to get into their shoes. Be unapologetically authentic and honest when you are around them. But try to be curious about them too and not judgmental about their life and their experiences. Accept them as they are and provide support. And, who knows, you might end up meeting unique and wonderful people. 

6. Be kind to yourself. 

The step you took to move to a new country is a brave and yet a challenging one. Being an expat is not a walk in the park. If you are expecting yourself to be back to normal a few days after you’ve landed in a new country, that’s a high standard you’re setting for yourself. Take your time, allow yourself to observe the environment, explore, be curious, and most of all, be compassionate with yourself especially when you are struggling with this transition. 

7. Old connections, new connections.

Last but not least, maintain the connections with your friends and family back home, but don’t compare them with your new connections; that’s an unfair comparison. That will only lead you to idolize the past and keep you with one foot at the door all the time. The new friendships you are making don’t carry all the memories, the history and the emotions of the home relationships, but they bring some freshness and excitement in your life. Enjoy your new country and make the most out of this new opportunity. 

Once again: Ithaca is not an actual place, rather than a symbol of the roots we are all looking for in order to feel safe and loved. 

You are not alone. 

About Vassia Sarantopoulou

Vassia Sarantopoulou is the Founder, CEO and Head Psychologist of AntiLoneliness, a company offering mental health services in The Netherlands and also worldwideShe is also a Trainer, a Perfectionism Expert and a Mental Health Ambassador, promoting Inner Peace, Mental Strength and Healthy Relationships with others and with our Self. AntiLoneliness offers support to those struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, burnout, loneliness, relationship issues, transition/change, expat life. 

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About Peekabond

Anieke Lamers, our CEO created Peakabond at the onset of Covid-19. A mobile app to help global families bond with young children remotely. Inspiring families to create playful and engaging moments with young children.

Asynchronous video connection and inspirational science-based content suggestions. Allowing families and loved ones to share small moments and build better bonds. Every play experience is designed with care and approved by child development experts. Always age appropriate. Always private and secure, never showing ads. Our intention is to build a movement that connects families across borders and over generations. To try storytelling activities at Peekabond go here. 

Discussing the Loss of a Relation Within the Family By Anieke Lamers

How to be supportive when your family at a distance is grieving

The Ukraine/Russia conflict inspired this post. My heart is heavy as so many are experiencing loss. Unfortunately, most of us will have moments in life when we are very challenged by a painful situation. Experiencing loss, grief, and sadness is a part of what makes us human. 

Loss and grief can come in many forms;  The death of a loved one, a miscarriage, bad news about a loved one’s health, a painful breakup, or job loss. 

But sadness and grief can also be experienced in “smaller” ways such as not understanding new technology products (my grandmother has been known to feel this way), feeling excluded by a new culture, missing cultural products or foods, being rejected by someone, not getting something you really wanted, or really just worrying about changes in a new environment. 

A few anonymous examples of suffering and grief from my own circle include: 

  1. A miscarriage: Having a miscarriage is more common than most people know. For women who know they’re pregnant, about 10-15% end in miscarriage (See source here). Yet it’s still taboo in many cultures or too painful to talk about. Sadly there isn’t a manual that teaches us how to deal with this kind of trauma. Especially not from the perspective of loved ones at a distance. 
  2. A child trauma: A friend of mine recently experienced her niece (at a distance) suffer a dog attack, for which she was hospitalized. She said she cried for two full days and was unable to fly and visit due to Covid. Experiencing your loved one at a distance suffering from an accident or even hospitalization can be very traumatizing.
  3. A sick older parent: Being separated from family due to political unrest can cause feelings of loss and grief. Especially for those who are unable to return to their home country. 

These things happen to our loved ones – especially to loved ones at a distance –  seeing them suffer can make us feel powerless. 

Personally, I miss my family in Australia when they are struggling with something in their life. Of course, I also hate missing birthdays and the fun stuff, but I feel even sadder about not being able to be there for them physically in times of sorrow. 

Sometimes all you want to do is give them a big hug and be there for them. Being present in their situation without necessarily saying or doing anything.

So what can you do and how can you be supportive when your family at a distance is struggling with grief?

Here are some steps that I have researched and have helped me with my grief:

1. Express your emotions

Sometimes, just being able to express how you or the other person feels can relieve the pain of not being there physically. For example, when I’m going through a rough patch and I speak to my sister in Australia, I can say out loud that I miss her and it sucks that we’re so far apart. I feel some of the pain releasing as I express this. 

Some of us are better at recognizing our emotions than others, but sometimes we just need a bit of help labeling our emotions. This is especially true for younger children. I believe it is our duty as grown-ups to help children in our family to navigate their difficult emotions. 

2. Ask about the other person’s need

When someone we love is in pain, sometimes we intuitively want to “solve” their problems by coming up with a solution. However, it can be better to ask an open question, such as: “What do you need? How can I help?”. Sometimes the answer might be: “I don’t know” or “Just listen and be here for me, that’s enough”. Another great question to ask is “Do you want to a) talk about it, or b) do you want to be distracted so you don’t have to think about it”? When the answer is a) your sole task is to listen. The best way you can be supportive is to listen and be there, letting them take the lead in the conversation.

When the answer is b) it can sometimes be a bit harder to come up with something distracting right on the spot, but this reminds me of the healing power of a simple joke (when timed right). When you make a joke to distract the other person, make sure it’s not at their expense, but a little bit of self-mockery can be healing.  Sometimes I find that when I ask to be distracted, I end up talking about the problem anyway.

3. Be thoughtful (and remember the after-care) 

Everyone deals with grief in their own way and in their own timeframe: Some people like to deal with it by themselves while others prefer a shoulder to cry on. Some appear to get “over it” in a heartbeat whereas for others the pain seems to linger forever. Whatever the situation, don’t judge and respect the needs of the person in grief. Let them know you are there in your own way. A simple heart emoticon ❤️ or a “I’m thinking of you, let me know if you need anything” note can be enough. Don’t expect them to respond (because they might have enough on their mind as it is): it’s not about you, it’s about being there for them. 

4. Send Good thoughts

There is a lot of research showing the power of meditation, prayer.ending good vibes to those in need can have positive effects at a distance. (For example: NYTimes)

Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, most of us will have moments in life when we are very challenged by a painful situation.Just because we aren’t there physically doesn’t mean we can’t be there for each other emotionally to help each other through the rough patches. Expressing your emotions, asking about each others’ needs, being thoughtful and sending good thoughts are all ways to be supportive. 

If you’d like a creative and playful way of supporting young children (and indirectly their parents) at a distance, try out our Peekabond app. We start by giving simple playful, creative suggestions to share videos with each other. This helps to deepen the connection with your loved one and create a space to start sharing the more difficult things. 

You can give Peekabond a try, it’s completely free and you download the app here

Life as an expat and long-distance aunt

Hey there, if you’re reading this and you’ve just moved to a new country as well, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that even though each process is unique, we all go through a somewhat similar experience when it comes to readapting. I think it’s part of human nature to resist change, and in my personal philosophy, I’m convinced that change is necessary to evolve, but it’s also painful. 

For me, these changes began about 2 years ago. I met my (now) fiancé on a trip with my friends to Las Vegas. I’m Mexican, and he is British. At the time, I lived in my hometown with a perfectly established life; my lifelong childhood friends and my family around 24/7, my niece I absolutely adore nearby, a long list of clients at my marketing agency which I’d been working on for 5 years, my beloved gym, my long list of favorite  restaurants on the weekends, etc. Maybe, as you’re reading this, you think I must have been bored out of my mind to move halfway across the world, but I wasn’t. I felt perfectly happy and established. I used to think I would meet a guy from the same town, get married, have children, and live in a house next to my parents, in the same neighborhood as all my friends. That was my idea of a fulfilled life.

But, it turns out, life had different plans for me.

Adapting to a new life in a different country

After we met we started traveling together. I guess I wasn’t thinking of where this was going until I fell in love. I was able to keep my life back home intact while traveling with him, so I had the best of both worlds for a little while. Then Covid-19 hit while I was on a trip in Finland experiencing the amazing Northern Lights. We ended up going to his hometown in the UK before lockdown and ended up staying there for four months. We loved living together so much that we decided to move to the next city he got sent to for work.

That’s how I ended up in The Netherlands. An amazing and beautiful place, which I actually hated at first. I guess it doesn’t matter how amazing the place you move to is – adjusting to a new place is just always hard. For about 3 months, I yearned for EVERYTHING about my hometown. I cried every time my sister sent a video of my niece getting bigger, and it just felt like I was missing out on so much. I missed my friends, my family, the warmth of my Mexican culture, speaking Spanish, the sun, the weather, the beach, and the list goes on and on. I was lost in this feeling so much that I wasn’t able to appreciate any of the good things that happened to me during this time. I felt like everyone else had their life together and was happy, and I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I was lonely and just dreaming of waking up in my hometown next to my friends, my family, my job, etc. 

I guess what I really want to share with you is a couple of things that helped me change the way I was seeing things and finally made me able to enjoy life here. Not that I’m feeling completely established yet or that I’ve got it all figured out, but at least I’m experiencing it in a much more positive mindset.

A positive mindset

First of all, I realized what I was feeling was completely normal and everyone goes through it. At first, I was ashamed of feeling so depressed and out of place, but I learned that talking about it helped so much because I felt so understood by the people around me. Because of this, I was able to give myself some credit and reminded myself that I was doing great.

Secondly, I realized my mind was in my hometown the whole time because I spent too much time thinking about all the plans and activities my friends and family were doing without me, but I never focused on making plans to look forward to here. So, I began by booking a reservation at a restaurant that looked amazing, making after-work plans with my colleagues, booking a massage… I just did my best to focus on the new plans I was making. 

And thirdly, I started practicing gratitude – with little things at first, such as having enough time every morning to practice yoga and drink coffee, or to be able to walk my dog 4 times a day because the weather is not too hot as it would be back home. I felt grateful for the opportunity to have new experiences next to the person I love. 

One of the biggest blessings was when I started working with Peekabond, because it marked a whole new era for me. I was able to connect with people who have similar values and who are warm and understanding. It was also the beginning of a deeper, more satisfying relationship with my niece and my sister, for which I’m eternally grateful. Peekabond gave me the inspiration to make our communication more regular, I could tell she felt very excited when she was making a reply video for “tía Gaby” (auntie Gaby) and I was also eager to wake up and see at what she had come up with while I was sleeping (because of the time difference). These are all things I thank life for every day. 

If life has taught me anything, it is that you never know what comes next. We can make all the plans in the world but nothing is certain. I can either remember this time of my life as a difficult and sad one or as the time when I felt fully alive.

We always have a choice. If you’re not in a good place right now, don’t worry. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back, becoming an expat is extremely BRAVE, and no matter where you are in your process right now, you’re doing great!

Love,

Gabrielle

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