The not-so-rosy side of expat stay-at-home life

Decorative image of padlock with heart on wooden door

I know that we are incredibly privileged in our (soft) lockdown life in Bangkok and I'm deeply grateful for that. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressed!

We're living a privileged lifestyle (we're not on an expat package but do have a family support network that's incredibly rich in social capital and the cost of living in Thailand allows us to live comfortably), but it's not all rosy and wonderful.

Let me be honest here.

☘ It's unsettling to be neither here nor there

Funny to realize that a year ago I was also feeling in limbo đŸ˜‚ Last year, it was about waiting to make the planned move to Singapore actually happen; this year, it's about continuing a 'temporary' life indefinitely.

While Bangkok gently eases out of lockdown and shows some hope of a return to 'normal', Singapore's unlikely to open up for a while yet. Even when it does, as foreigners, we will have to get permission to return and heaven knows when that will be granted for our whole family.

So my initial vague hope that we might return within this school term (i.e., by June...) is looking increasingly unlikely and we'd be lucky if we can make it back before the second school term begins in September. This feeling of being stuck in a hold pattern is...well, unsettling, to say the least.

The thing that's preventing me from getting comfortable here in Bangkok is probably my fear that if I get too comfortable, I'd have to readjust from scratch when we go back to Singapore. Culture shock and readjustment all over again, just as I thought I'd managed to get through those stages. Sigh.

☘ Home schooling sucks especially when combined with mommy guilt

Like last year when we were moving to Singapore, I'm trying to home-school Engineer and Tigerlily so they don't fall too far behind their classmates. 

At least this year, we're using an online tutoring service, which is a huge improvement over last year's utter failure.

(I note that this Instagram pic from last year was posted in June...amazing that I lasted that long!!)

But it's still frustrating and exasperating and draining to be nagging the kids to study! And I can't help feeling the pressure to not let the kids fall behind.

What's worse is the feeling of guilt that it was our decision to come to Bangkok and to take them out of school in Singapore...and that's now keeping them from being 'with' their friends in the sense that they're not going through the same exact thing with their classmates, especially if schools open up again but we're not yet allowed back into the country.

I have to believe that these factors are out of my control and that it's OK—the whole world is severely disrupted, it's not my fault—and THE KIDS WILL BE OK.

☘ Not having quiet space and uninterrupted time to do my work is draining

As someone who is tired out by incessant noise (but strangely finds the hum of cafes soothing...unless someone is talking in a particularly large voice), I find being in one room with the kids for most of the day draining.

I'm utterly grateful that I have help to watch over the kids and that I do usually get one hour of complete peace and quiet in the late afternoon while the kids go for their daily swim. But it's not the same time that I do my editing work.

Here's an extreme case. You can see from the screenshot of my timer app how chopped up my work hours are:

It's irritating as heck 😭


But I know, I know, I'm absolutely in no position to complain. 

Now that I've written these down, I recognize some things that I need to let go as being out of my control.

And as Third Culture Kids wisely recommends, I should stop thinking of this life as temporary. This is our life, now.

Cover photo by Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay


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