Updated: Mar 25
I don't know about you but last year was a rather challenging year for us- financially and emotionally. Without going into too many details on how things were for us without sounding like I am moping and complaining, I decided that I will put together my learnings. I hope by doing this, it will help you reflect on your challenges, and hopefully inspire you to view them as learnings instead.
The biggest and most important lesson we learned last year is to spend money wisely. Now that we are a family of four, expenses quickly add up. The hard truth is that the cost of living in Switzerland is very high so our basic expenses are high. We came up with a list of areas where we spend and it became very apparent that we have to cut down on things like eating out, shopping, travelling and childcare.
Eating out- We only eat out as a family once a week and if we do eat out, we make sure we only spend up to a certain amount. We avoid going to coffee shops and drink coffee mostly at home. The positive outcome of eating mostly at home is that I had to learn how to make different types of cuisines at home. I even had a chance to learn how to make bread which I have been wanting to try.
Shopping- For the kids' clothes, we could not spend money on new clothes, so I asked some of my mama friends for hand-me-downs. I was honest with our situation, and I was surprised at how generous people were. If I needed to get something for the kids, I shopped second-hand first and only when I cannot find the item, I will then buy it new. Last year, my husband and I only bought a handful of basic clothes that needed to be replaced like socks and tops.
Travelling- Taking a holiday overseas as a whole family of four is a lot of money. After our annual trip to Singapore, we had to cut down on travelling by flight. Instead, we explored more of Switzerland and took short weekend road trips to neighbouring countries. We went glamping in France and visited friends in Germany. My husband and I also took solo trips, which turned out to be a good way to get some "me" time. I got to go on a ladies trip to Lisbon which was so fun and a much-needed getaway from the kids for a few days.
Happy campers in France
Because we are limited by our budget, we learned how to simplify our life. We focused on important things, like being together as a family. Sure, it is nice to travel overseas as a family but it does not matter where we are in the world, as long as we have one another. We learned to appreciate the little moments, like watching our daughter learn how to walk or watching my son "read" (he can't read yet so he only looks at pictures). These precious moments are the ones we relish most lately.
My son looking at books and my daughter sometimes joins him
Other lessons I learned in 2019,
Friends- I learned who my real friends are. I lost contact with a lot of friends who I thought were "friends", but they never once sent me a message to ask me how I was doing. I would not consider those people my "friends", they were just people I hung out with in the past. I am learning how to set my boundaries and cut off people that do not enrich my soul.
Community- If you want to be in a community, you have to start building your own community. Your community does not have to be big, it just has to be real. It is not the number of people you know, but how honest you can be when you are with them. I found myself hanging out with mama friends who are interested in things that matter to me like trying new recipes, living sustainably, being outdoors in nature, and being a supportive friend.
Christmas coffee afternoon where everyone baked homemade cookies to share
Not every challenge is necessarily a bad thing, you learn so much from it. It teaches you to re-evaluate areas in your life and re-prioritize what is truly important. It forces you to be creative. It teaches you to grow the fuck up. And by growing up, it means having to pull your weight in a family dynamic and work together as a team. It means you learn how to deal with things on your own without family help. You suck it up and sort your shit out. It means not complaining and whining, but to embrace the uncomfortable moments and then it passes.
We all have our personal struggles that we don't always share with everyone, please be kind to others as you have no idea what the other person might be going through. Our lives are far from perfect on social media and that is the reality of life.
I hope you have a good 2020 filled with lessons for your growth.
Love and light,