Some things I miss.

It’s safe to say that in the last four months, we have completely changed our lives. We’ve gone from an Engineer and a Stay at Home Parent in a small town/expat community in Brunei to a team of Campground Managers in a tourist village in rural New Zealand.  The Engineer’s Baby has changed from a little baby 2 year old to a full sentences and complex ideas full on Campground Kid. We have a new house, a new routine, new habits, new everything.

Overall, we’re really happy with the change. Working as a team for a common goal suits our little family, even though it’s occasionally pretty full on.  We love love love New Zealand, and the climate, and being back home. We’re doing well at the job, learning new things, meeting new people, and getting a whole new set of experiences for our toolkit.

But as with any change, even the positive ones, there are things I miss.

One of the big ones is my toddler/parent groups and all the great friends we met in Brunei. We had a great routine going, and having a more-than-full-time job really interferes with my ability to find anything similar here. I miss hanging out with my friends watching my kid play with her friends. I miss having the time to see our friends so very often.  I miss coffee mornings and play dates and the whole full-time parenting deal.

Our last time at The Jungle House

Our last time at The Jungle House

In the stay-at-home parent vein, I also miss just hanging out with The Campground Kid one-on-one. We still spend a lot of time together, and we still have a great relationship, but it’s just not the same as being the one at home with her all the time. In many ways, I wasn’t a great stay-at-home mum, and in many ways I enjoy this relationship more (not to mention I love that she gets more time with her Papa), but I still miss the little adventures. I miss moseying off to a playground, wandering around town holding hands, and our random little chats. We had a little coffee date last week while Campground Papa was doing some shopping, and it was a good reminder about how much fun one-on-one time can be. (Goal 1: do this more often).

Visiting the kittens at our favourite Brunei food stalls/playground.

Visiting the kittens at our favourite Brunei food stalls/playground.

I also miss having a housekeeper. We went from all the time in the world (apart from the whole toddler thing) and someone to clean twice a week to no time at all and no help around the house. Our house is small and the chores are pretty manageable, but boy was it nice to not have to worry about them!

And speaking of no time at all, I miss my afternoons off. In Brunei, The Engineer (now Campground Papa) had Friday afternoons off work, and that was always my time. I used to write or read or watch crappy TV or go out for a coffee or get a pedicure or a massage. It was a few hours a week, but it was a really important few hours a week. With the change in pace, adjusting to new things, and a busy holiday season, it just hasn’t quite found a place in our new routine. But I miss it a lot. (Goal 2: do this more often too).

Afternoon off; writing, coffeeing.

Afternoon off; writing, coffeeing.

One more: I miss predictable weather. I didn’t like the weather in Brunei much, but I really really liked it being the same every day. I didn’t have to wonder what to wear each day, or how to dress The Campground Kid. I always knew that it would be too hot, and the only variable was how much it would rain (which didn’t make too much of a difference to most of our decisions). Here, the weather is all over the map. Hot, cold, wet, dry, all in one day. I change clothes and shoes in the middle of the day, I have to carry layers, and I’m just a bit confused by the whole thing after three season-less years.

I’m not writing any of this to moan. Life is good, and we feel very lucky to be here. But writing this list has made me realise a few things that I really want to get into our routine as soon as possible. And in fact, the two goals mentioned above are perfectly covered by a tip that I heard on an old episode of  World’s Okayest Moms (which, as an aside, is great;  you should definitely have a listen, especially if you’re a mum)  The tip was to have a day or two a month, planned in advance, where each parent has half a day off, and half a day alone with the kid(s). This is not rocket science, I know. In fact, it’s just basic family routine stuff. But it’s family routine stuff that I think would be great for us all. Some time hanging with The Campground Kid without distractions; and some time for me to be me outside of work and parenting. Win win win.

Conclusion: change is hard. The grass really was greener over here for us, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss that slightly-less-green Brunei grass and the lifestyle that went with it.

PS – I also miss roti and year round watermelon and iced coffee without all the trimmings and cheap takeaways. But I definitely don’t miss humid heat.

Working through.

On Christmas morning, we woke up early. But it wasn’t because of an overexcited kid. Nope, The Campground Kid didn’t really know about Santa, and actually had a sleep in. It was because we had to start work at 7:45am. Yep, this year, we worked on Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years, and quite a few days in between. Welcome to the campground business!

But actually, we didn’t mind, and for the most part, it was totally fine. I love the holidays. I love big celebrations with my family. I love Christmas music. But for various reasons (divorced parents, mother who’s a minister, living far away from family) I’ve never been too wedded to a particular day or a particularly traditional celebration. 

Christmas Day swim

We managed to have Campground Papa’s parents here for Christmas Eve/morning. And on our working Christmas, we enjoyed spreading a little cheer around the park, a swim, some presents, and my first ever glazed ham for dinner. We had a Christmas Shrub (TM) set up, a lot of Christmas music in the office, and for the first time The Campground Kid was actually interested in opening presents. There was plenty of Christmas cheer to go around. Then we had a couple of days off where we saw a bunch of my family and celebrated Christmas (Observed) at a glorious bach. We ate, drank, played backyard cricket, and watched the kids be loons. We had a little Secret Santa. We had strawberry cheesecake chimichangas and gingerbread coffee as the kids tore into their gifts. We did a post-Christmas tramp on the most amazing day in Tongariro National Park. It was, quite simply, great. 

Christmas (Observed) matching socks.


But it was also hard. We had to get everything way in advance to make it happen. We rushed from work to bach with very little packing time. We rushed from Christmas (Observed) to tramping. And then we went from a hot morning tramping to a windy drive home straight back into work and followed it up with the busiest day of the year. We were go go go go go. 

Post-Christmas tramp with our Campground Kid

It wasn’t working Christmas that made it hard. It was not having a summer holiday when all of our family and most of NZ were having a summer holiday that made it hard. It was trying to fit a week of celebrations and travelling and activities and fun into a weekend. It was having to be so much more organised than ever before.

So when we finally had a breather on January 3rd? First we sighed a big ol’ sigh of relief. And then I decided that I need a planner. Planners have often failed me in the past. And now that my week is non-traditional, I felt like a premade planner would be even less successful. So I’m diving into the (amazing, but rather more intense than expected) world of the “Bullet Journal”.

 

It’s not the prettiest, and it’s not entirely “bullet”, but I’m guessing no one really cares about that. In fact, probably no one cares about my journal at all. But I’m hoping that posting about it publicly means I stick to it more than I have in the past. And I’m hoping that it, along with the extra year experience, means I’m a little more prepared for working through the holidays next year. Maybe it will help me work through some other stuff too? I can only hope!