A few days ago I wrote of the challenges many of us face being sandwiched between generations. Just like everyone else, we expats do our best to care for, raise and guide our TCK children to adulthood(and beyond) while also staying connected to and supporting our aging parents.
We just sometimes have a few wrenches thrown in due to our lack of immediate proximity.
All while maintaining a (hopefully) healthy family life and juggling work, friends, fitness, favored activities, community involvement and personal growth.
Oh, and don’t forget sleep. It seems we need sleep far more than we know.
I’m talking good quality sleep that rejuvenates and restores. The kind most of us haven’t experienced since childhood when we could zonk out with the best of them.
The last time I can recall going to bed and sleeping through the night, waking refreshed and raring to go?
Somewhere between the college days – late nights writing papers, early morning classes, cramming for tests and partying as if it were Prince’s proverbial 1999 – and the arrival of children on the scene.
For months now I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research for my book on the importance of emotional resilience in expat life, and let me tell you: the list of things I should be doing to maintain some semblance of emotional and physical wellbeing is, well, starting to verge on the unhealthy.
I’m not quibbling with the need to watch what I eat and exercise on a regular basis to drop unwanted pounds and help maintain cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility and endurance.
We need to be eating healthy foods with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, going easy on meat, high-calorie stuff with minimal nutritional value and alcohol.
Multivitamin? Fish oil? Calcium tablets?
Check, check and check.
Eliminate the carbonated beverages, watch the caffeine, drink green tea, stay hydrated with plenty of water.
Add in eight hours of restful sleep nightly, excelling in our careers with meaningful work, meditation to clarify our minds, reading for pleasure, reading to gain new knowledge and expand said clarified minds, unplugging from too much time spent online or using various screens (name your own vice), spending time with others to fulfill our need for interpersonal connections, spending time alone for emotional balance, fitting in volunteer work to help others and retain a sense of gratitude…
We’re supposed to do all this and somehow remember to throw in a few loads of laundry, walk the dog, keep the fridge and pantry reasonably stocked, vacuum occasionally, dust now and then, brush our teeth and change the cat litter?
Remember, this is the ‘must do’ list BEFORE we even add anything remotely related to caring for toddlers, chauffering kids, ensuring our teens aren’t running amok and our young adult children are on track or helping to deal with the latest development in our parents’ gradual decline.
Let’s face it. Life is complicated and messy. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming.
Just when you figure out how to juggle the various requirements in your daily life, they change and you’re often left standing there with someone’s unmet need lying on the ground.
And so it goes.
Last month I wrote about doing some spring cleaning in my writing projects. While finishing up or stepping away from certain tasks, I’ve added a select few new ones.
One such endeavor that I’m excited about is writing for the Telegraph’s Expat section.
Yesterday we kicked off our new relationship with their publication of my article on undertaking the university search for expat teens in which I discuss one of the latest plates I’m juggling, this time around with Daughter.
Not bad for multi-tasking, eh?
[Image credit: sheelamohan, profolio 2169, freedigitalphotos.net]