04.02.19

2018 is over and the moving countries aftermath

Paul & Paula blog

Hello Monday! New week, new month… and somehow a day where I feel that I am finally ready to share about the whole aftermath a move across countries entails. And why things are actually a bit very crazy over here.

We are no newbies when it comes to moving. Especially moving countries and we did it with and without kids. But for some reasons this really has been the toughest one to date.

And I am not going to sit and whine. Complaining and hear you saying: ‘but that is what you wanted, so deal with it’. No, this is more stating the fact that life is not always perfect, that we do have limits and that reality is something we should not hide.

So why today? Because today, one year ago, my mum passed. (you can read about some of that in this article) And last year was especially a difficult one because of that. Today is a good moment to go more personal.

And also because many people asked me after this post on Instagram (that was more or less vague) what is going on. Yes, that is the Social Media aftermath and since I was around quite a bit for trade shows and stuff it came up regularly. Thank you for caring!

But lets get right up to the End of October. Between the black on white, yes you move, at the very last day of August 2018, and the actual move we had roughly 2 months. Not even 2 months.

And this is nothing. It is shorter than short. Squeeze in a week of house hunting and stretch things – let it be 7 weeks. 6 people, from Sweden to the UK in 7 weeks. Boom! And it is not like one of us stopped working and could deal with the move 100%. No, no… evenings, week ends and any other spare minute was used for that.

And yes, we got help through relocation agencies but there still is a big load of stuff that falls on you and that should fall on you, like deciding where you want to live and which school feels right for your children.

Paul & Paula blog

So, we land in London at the end of October and stay in a temp apartment until our things arrive. We start to run around for bank accounts, mobile phone contracts, registering my business and other admin/ paperwork stuff. Fun!

We also learn that the children will not start school after the Autumn break because the agency did not give us the correct information and things will only get going AFTER that break. Bummer! Because things have been planned around that. We looked for a house that was available at a specific date so we could be down as tenants and get the school applications running. And we explained to the children that they would start their new schools after a school break.

Instead we had to wait.

And there are no free spots at the schools we put on Number 1 of the list. Ok, we knew this could happen. And who knows, maybe the 2nd choice turns out to be great and we just stay put.
Just that the schools turn out to be a logistical nightmare. Romy is in secondary and the school is a little far and she cannot go by herself. So somebody has to drop her off and pick her up. At the same time as the two other ones (Antoine & Leonor) start and finish school. Only possible if you either know a lot of people and can arrange/share things or you run and deal with it. Somehow. On some days only one of us could do the school run, and it was a literal run sprint. Dropping off the two monkeys at breakfast club, running for the bus and being juuuuuuust on time at the big girl school (she was actually late by two minutes one day and was so scared. We learned that a 2nd time in the same week would have led to detention). With the tiniest monkey always on tow of course. Because we were still looking for a nursery spot.
And then the afternoons. Same scenario. We could add some clubs, library excursions and such to help a bit but it was always a run. A run against the clock. So exhausting.

In between I was looking after Josephine, work, e mails, paperwork and uniform shopping. I made to do lists for every single day.

And there was Christmas coming up. Not an event you can just ignore or cancel, especially not with kids and somehow it really stressed me out. And I am not a stressed person in general. But the thought of not having the right gifts and the need to maybe go last minute shopping was somehow frightening. Another list was prepared and every time I was out buying uniforms, at the bank or other places I also had a quick look at some shops and started gift shopping. I managed to order their wish list priorities and the list started to look ok. Phew! I even ordered our Christmas tree online to save some time. And kept it a surprise until the delivery guy rang the bell. Oh their faces…. hahaha.

Hot tip: November is a terrible month to move. We did this once before and somehow forgot about a rule we made back then: Do not move in November. Because the weather is not helping to lift your mood! In the contrary.

Christmas time in London is amazing. And one of the reasons I missed about big city life was definitely the choices you have. Especially the cultural ones. And so we did squeeze in a few things like Kew Gardens or the Gingerbread expo at the V&A. And they were great and kept us going.

Work: Once the kids were sleeping I finally could ‘really’ work. At least it was quiet and I could concentrate. But I was tired as well and really had to motivate myself. Which led to very short nights and very unsettled nights. I could not really unwind and just relax. Sometimes I was up until 3 or something because I could not sleep. So there is a moment where you turn into functioning. Like a robot really.

Which meant: No partnership time. Or very little. And this is hard, not healthy and became an issue. All in all I really felt like I was running every day and that my head was always preoccupied. Tired and with no patience at all. Not a good thing when parenting! Weekends really just slipped away and were more busy than any other days.

By the way: I checked the health app on my phone and I walked/ ran approx. 10km every day, those days. With a toddler in a stroller in front of me. All the time. Who also needed attention, be fed and kept entertained. She did a great job really and was super to come along and be cool. She did not have a big choice but she could have gone on a strike. And who could have blamed her…

Another conclusion: Those weeks/ months definitely included too much TV, phones and computers. And now we still pay for it. Things are starting to slow down a little right now. And we need to reverse those screen time sessions into occasional moments again. Not easy!

Today: All four children changed schools. Which is a good thing BUT also meant that I was out uniform shopping A G A I N because, of course, they had all different colours and even needed different shoes. Oh the joy. Some more paperwork, visiting the new schools and so on… tick tock!

But:

Romy – likes her new, art specialised, school and made friends on her very first day there. YAY! One friend lives close to us and they go to school together every day. Double yay.

Antoine & Leonor – are in the school that is a 2min walk from our house. Oh the bliss. I never imagined that this would be possible. Especially not in London. 2 min!

Josephine – she started nursery in A’s & L’s old school and changed to the nursery in the new, close by school, after the winter break. So we have the 3 youngest in one spot. I still have to get used to the nurseries and their regulations here in the UK, a chapter on its own.

We are still dealing with HMRC and child care and it really is a very long and exhausting story that has cost me a lot of time, nerves and even money. In short: Because I am so new to the country I am not eligible to deal with them online. (hello 2019!) Therefore I have to call them for everything and had to send in two rounds of identity proof. Still waiting to hear back after the latest snail mail. Wow. Just wow!
I do miss Sweden and their efficiency. There was literally an app for everything and you just did ‘tap tap’ and finger print. And done! Boom!

Yesterday we spent a whole day outside. And that felt so good. We had a nice lunch in the pub and a big long walk in Hampstead Heath. It was cold but beautiful and really cleared our heads.

What else:

Our new place is smaller than the beautiful flat we had in Sweden. We knew that before but of course, one has to get used to it too. I am actually planning on writing an article about it because it shows and teaches you a few things as well. Interested? We like the house and chose it because we felt very ‘at home’ when we visited.

At the end of 2018 I realised that I was at my very limit. Actually over limit. And I did not want to keep up with the ‘pressure to be fine’ anymore. And I couldn’t. I am selecting very carefully now what I do and when. If it is possible and if it is good for me as well.
Since we are new here as well, there are no close friends around. Nobody to call by surprise and go for a coffee or lunch and rant. Or just change your mind and talk about something completely different. Something I am working on, slowly.

For the first time, I really feel like: No more moving!

Oh well, I hope that you could follow all that I write down. It is a bit of a wirr warr. But so is my head. Thank you for listening :)

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