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.
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).
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).
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.