Parenting is already hard enough, let alone if you have to do it on your own or without extended family to support you. When my husband (Patrick) and I made the decision to settle down in Australia, we knew it was going to be only the two of us, without our extended family.

When our two children joined the family, I left the workforce to be a full time mum and carer, whereas my husband had to be the bread winner. Switching from full time work to full time mum can be a game changer.

Extended families work in some cultures. Where I grew up in Malaysia, we had extended families close by for support. Everywhere we turned, there would be cousins, aunties and uncles to visit or to talk to, apart from our parents and grandparents. As children we had plenty to do.

Meanwhile, our parents had extended family to support them and provide advice, and take care of us when they were busy. My grandparents  supported them when they felt overwhelmed, and we had sleepovers at our relatives during the holidays to give our parents some free time for themselves.

However, when we are on our own in a foreign country, we lose the support we could have back home. That is when reality hits; we have to be fully hands-on, irrespective whether we are overwhelmed or tired, as our children only have us to look after them.

For us, our family was our focus, and we had to work as partners and not against each other. I know sometimes when we are tired and stressed, we potentially say things that we do not mean and which could hurt the other party.

Looking back my husband and I had learned that:

  • No matter what happens, we need each other for support.
  • You are each other's best friend.
  • Communication is the key.

You need each other for support

Remember that you only have each other for support. You can argue, vent your anger and frustration at each other, but at the end of the day, you only have the two of you here in the foreign country. You need each other for support. Focus on your main objective – making a new life with your family.

Your children need you to be there for them and to love them, to impart your values, your knowledge and share your culture with them.

You are each other's best friend

Remember the day you said "I do"?

From that day forward, you agreed to take each other to be your respective life partner. In your life, you go through ups and downs. You can argue, you can disagree with each other…but at the end of the day, remember what brought you two together in the first place – your shared core values, your love and mutual respect for each other. Always remember that!

Communication is the KEY

Whether it be your children or anyone else – communication is the KEY.

Communication is more important when both of you are moving in different directions in life, where one of you is a full time carer of your children and one is a full time bread winner.  These are conscious decisions that you made for your family; however, it does not mean you have to drift apart.

You have to consciously make time to communicate and to reconnect every day, whether you are having breakfast together before the children get up, or a quick chat over the phone during your lunch break. Keep the communication channels open.

Remember, parenting is a partnership. Have a connected day with your family.

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