This blog post is a follow up to one we wrote back in September called Signs of Homesickness. If you have not already had the chance to read this blog, go ahead and give it a read now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…. Welcome back! I hope you found that blog post of be an informative and useful tool to help you process being away from home and in a new culture. Now that you know the signs of homesickness, we want to be able to help you deal with homesickness. As the previous blog mentioned, homesickness is “the distress or functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment object such as parents.” This is a very normal thing that happens to people who travel. We just hope these tips can help you manage your homesickness so that you can continue to enjoy your Canadian life!
1. Share your home life with your new life
Sometimes when were in a new surrounding we want so badly to be present and find ways to fit in that we forget about our own past life and experiences. It’s important to remember where you came from and talk about things that can connect your home life to your Au Pair life.
Talk about your family, school, traditions and culture with all of the new people around you. Don’t be afraid to show pictures or bring up a conversation about politics and how they differ from country to country. Anything that will make a connection between your home life and your new life.
2. Make yourself busy by creating a routine
Your host family will provide you with a weekly schedule of when you need to provide childcare and light housekeeping but make sure you add your own flare to the schedule. Wake up 15 minutes early to stretch or enjoy a coffee, walk to the library the first Tuesday of the month to get a new book, sign up for a weekly spin class.
By making your schedule your own and creating routine, you’re committing yourself to your new home and finding your own community.
Get a journal and start to write every day. Okay, maybe you don’t have time to write EVERY day but try to write a couple of times a week. Don’t just write in the super exciting new things but also write about the not so positive experiences so you can reflect back on them and see how much you’ve grown!
You should also write about all of the reason of why you decided to come to Canada. This will help to remind yourself on any bad days when you feel the homesickness creeping up of why you picked up and left everything familiar to be in a new and foreign place.
Climb a mountain, eat poutine, play hockey! Canada has so much to offer and it’s yours for the taking. Make a wish list or bucket list of all the things you want to do while you’re in Canada and work towards getting them done. By doing this, you have the opportunity to work towards something rewarding. Also, you could share you list with others engaging them to work with you on achieving these goals and inspiring them to make their own. You may not reach everything on the list but you will have done more than if you did not make the list.
5. Get creative!
Get your creative juices flowing! Create a video of your new neighbourhood, write a song about the new places you’ve seen, write a blog! Like creating a “to-do” list or something to work towards will help get your mind off of being away from home and help exercise your creative brain for when the kids need a new idea.
6. Do not develop FOMO
We are in a generation of connectivity. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, if we have a cell phone in our pocket, we are connected to the world. Although this can be a great way to stay in touch with loved ones, it also creates a new phenomenon called fear of missing out (or FOMO). FOMO is the feeling of anxiety that occurs when you think you will miss out on something exciting or huge if you don’t attend. For example, “I’m super tired but if I don’t go to the party I might miss something really important.” This is developed from always checking social media, calling home frequently and Skyping with friends. Although these can be great ways to stay connected, in moderation, it’s important that you keep your mind in one spot. When we can constantly check in to see what our friends and family are up to this can cause us to desire to be back home rather than making your own adventures where you are.
What is important to remember is that your home is not going anywhere. Your work permit will run out eventually and you only get this one opportunity. Make the most of it and get off social media (after reading this blog of course)!
7. Do something you love
Bring your hobbies overseas with you! This is another great way to connect your home life to your Au Pair life. Like to run? Join the local running group. Passionate about music? Join the local church choir. Love reading? Join a reading club.
OR start something you’ve always wanted to try! This is your opportunity to grow as an individual, to broaden your skills and talents. Luckily as an Au Pair, you do not have the time consuming responsibilities of owning a home, car or running a family on your time off. Use your free time to engage in your passions.
8. Make your new home a home
It is important to your host family that you feel comfortable in their home. If you’re hungry, go get a snack out of the fridge. If you need to do your laundry, don’t be afraid to ask how to use the machine. If you need a listening ear, engage in a conversation.
You should also find ways to make your space your own: put up pictures, make a reading nook or just add some special mementos to your room. Some Au Pairs will only have their room as their own “private space” so it’s important to make it a special, comforting space where you can retreat to at the end of a long working day.
Lastly, find others around you who are travelling and away from home. This may be another Au Pair, a member of your community or even your host parents. Open up about being homesick and you’ll quickly find out that it is just a part of being abroad and it is totally manageable.