YOU thought that you and the kids would spend every waking second baking old family recipes with your mother. Your spouse could rifle through childhood photo albums and hear every.single.one of your dad’s fishing stories, while waiting in the wings to taste test whatever deliciousness came out of the oven.
YOUR SPOUSE had a very different vision. Since you and the kids would be occupied, he could binge-read suspense novels, nap intermittently, and get out of his pajamas just in time to be social for an hour or so (max) at dinner.
Can you guess what happens next?
Here comes a year-end wrap-up unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Over the next three weeks, I’m doing a new series called 3-for-3. I’ll cover three timely topics — one per episode — and provide excerpts from three previous podcasts to reinforce the focal message.
So three episodes, nine podcasts, dozens of life hacks, and innumerable ah-ha moments. This week, we’re talking about the additional family matters many expats must deal with during the holidays.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Face-to-face hangover warning signs & cures
- The pressure to make the most of your time together
- Uncertainty Reduction Theory & The Magic Question
- Tricks to strengthen connection at a distance
- Staying mindful about “day of” sensitivities
Listen to the Full Episode
Without question, the Wisdom Fusion Project was a highlight of my year. One Town Hall viewer said, “I wasn’t expecting the recording to affect me so profoundly. JUST WOW.” You can still watch it right here.
Featured on the Show:
- Global Life in the Hard Resource Roundup
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
Catch These Podcasts / Articles:
- EP50: In Between Families and Locations for Holidays
- EP47: Navigating The Pressure Of Making The Holidays “Perfect”
- EP54: Cure a Face to Face Hangover
We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 7:00 am in New York, 2:00 pm in Johannesburg, and 7:00 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Hey Hey! We are officially on the bridge between the old year 2021, and the New Year, 2021! I didn’t know we would exactly be here when I thought about the verge of 2021 and 2022 but here we are. And to honor that, I am kicking off a 3-part series called 3 for 3.
Three episodes, featuring 3 episodes each. (So you get the insight of 9 episodes packed into 3 – but for less time.)
It is going to be short and sweet, because we are all busy with holidays, and family OR crashing and burning or planning ahead for the coming year. Maybe all three at the same time.
Let’s dive right in.
This episode is all about family matters and by family, I am defining that broadly, whether it’s your nuclear family or chosen family.
So we’re gonna look at 3 things:
- What to keep in mind when you want to or have to connect at a distance.
- What not to forget when you connect face-to-face.
- And what to do when you have what’s called a face-to-face hangover.
So here are a few thoughts. We’re going to kick off with EP50: In between families and locations for holidays on what to keep in mind when you want to (or have to) connect at a distance. It all starts with intention:
How do you be there without really being there? Okay, you do something. To be present in their day on the special day and that might be something as simple as writing a letter and having one of your family members read it at dinner. It could be writing part of the prayer that you always say before you start to eat. Whatever your cultural traditions are. What can you do to have your voice heard? Maybe you can make a little video and have them play it before they open gifts or before they light candles or you could send an audio and have them play it to your family.
When you really can’t be, physically be in the same room. But as we all know, as expats, as internationals, we can connect over technology. So don’t be afraid to plan ahead. Tap your tech savviest cousin or aunt and say, “Listen. I’m calling you at 5 p.m. Will you have your phone ready? Because I want you to pass your phone round for FaceTime.” Okay, so plan ahead, get ready to use technology and make sure you’re contacting the most tech savvy person of the group so that they can make sure that you can make the rounds with your FaceTime with your group. That always works but one thing I find is tough is everybody’s busy. They’re getting the shrimp ready, or they’re going to make this last-minute change on a gift they’re preparing. So it kind of feels rushed like nobody has time for you. Even though they’re really happy to hear you. So maybe a better way is to connect the day before so if there’s a big celebration in your culture, in your family and it’s happening on Friday, then get in touch on Thursday. And here’s why.
I’m feeling more sensitive on the actual day because it’s triggering me, like, “Oh, yeah, the years and memory I’ve spent with these loved ones,” but if I have connected and had really fun, meaningful conversations the day before that need for connection is already met. So, beyond connecting on the day to be witness to your grandchildren opening the presents or your nephew opening the gift that you sent or whatever traditions that you have you can get your needs for connection met the day before, when people are not stressed, not busy, not distracted. And that’s a way that you can really have that need for connection met with your loved ones, and they know that you’re thinking about them. You can say, “Have a wonderful day tomorrow. I’ll be thinking about you,” and then you can focus on what you’ve planned.
So there you have it. A little creative planning to connect in fresh ways will go a long way, and being mindful that perhaps the best way to be truly present on the holidays is to connect the day before so that you can focus on what IS happening in person on your side of the world, and being able to do that fully after having your own needs for connection with those afar being met.
Now that I have given you a few tips on how to connect at a distance, let’s focus on how to make the most of it if you actually get to be with people face-to-face. After all of the separation due to the pandemic, it would be easy to put pressure on ourselves to make the absolute most of face-to-face time together. In EP47: Navigating The Pressure Of Making The Holidays “Perfect”, I offer a few tips on how to make sure we don’t blow this precious opportunity because we do put pressure on ourselves especially when we think about all the time we could have been spending together. So the secret to making the most of this face-to-face time during the holiday season is transparency. Specifically, make expectations transparent.
Let’s look at how this works if you have flown across the world, or if loved ones have come to you:
All right, this starts if you are visiting, is for you to say, “What do you want to get out of your trip?” Okay, you need to ask yourself that question. What do you want to get out of your trip? What do you expect out of this trip? “Okay. I want to watch the kids 24/7, while you go scuba diving for five days,” said no one ever. So if you are in a partnership, it is really important that you are transparent about your expectations before you go because you don’t want to be sitting there in some paradise location or with your family somewhere and fuming out of your ears with frustration because you’re doing one thing when you actually expected to do something different.
Okay, so being transparent with your expectations starts with naming: What do you want to get out of this trip? And if you’re in a partnership, make sure you share that with your partner so that you can share expectations. Okay, even ask your kids, what do they want to get out of the trip together and if they’re older especially they might have very clear expectations and if you know them in advance you can plan for them. Okay, so that’s one really critical element about making your expectations transparent. But you also want to do that if you are having visitors. Okay, so if you’re having visitors, you might ask them, “What do you want to get out of your trip?” Right? One of the biggest grumps I see from internationals or expats is when they have visitors and when you’re the host that the visitors ask more from you than you’re capable of delivering, but nothing’s been articulated so it can be a lot of pressure. All right. So if you are having visitors you can ask them, “Okay, what do you want to get out of your trip? And what do you want to experience while you’re visiting,” and then you can find out whether that’s feasible. They say, “Well I’d like you to show me around the town on the first day.” And you might say, “Fantastic. I’ll take that day off,” right? Or you might say, “I’m sorry. I can’t, I’m working,” and you’re able to then negotiate your expectations.
Okay. Now if you’re having visitors and they’ve shared their expectations, maybe they say something like, “Oh, we just want to hang out with the grandkids or I just want to be with you,” right? Then the field is quite open. So that’s your turn to be transparent with your expectations. And you might say something like this, “Hey, I’m really looking forward to having you come. I’ve taken Friday off so the entire weekend together, but heads up on Monday, I have a really important project. So you’re on your own. Okay, here are two tickets that you can go to the museum with that I’ve arranged for you. So you don’t just sit at home and feel bored.” Okay, so maybe you can be clear with your expectations around how much time you do get to spend together and how much time they’ll spend independently.
And that gives, especially older visitors time to adjust and prepare. They know what to expect and that’s called uncertainty reduction theory, right? I don’t know what’s going to happen, what’s it going to look like? And now you’ve helped paint a picture to reduce my uncertainty. Okay, so transparency with expectations of what you want to get out of a visit and also be transparent when you have visitors, hearing what they want to do and helping share with them what’s possible from your side.
Believe me. This ONE question can change EVERYTHING. Ask yourself. Ask your partner. Ask your loved ones. Save yourself hours, days or weeks of disappointment or frustration.
Now let’s assume you have spent amazing quality time with loved ones and it is time to say goodbye. Ugh, hate that! So I am here to say from experience, get ready for a face-to-face hangover. It is far worse than any New Year’s hangover I have ever had. You might remember me talking about this in EP54: Cure a Face-to-Face Hangover. What is it? Have a listen.
That feeling that you get after you’ve spent a good chunk of time being in that luxurious place of the same room. All right, so today’s episode on Expat Happy Hour is all about how you will know the signs of having an F 2 F hangover. And what you can do about it. All right, here they are. Listen up the signs that you have an F 2 F hangover. Early, warning signs include:
- You started to miss them even before they left.
- Physical symptoms include, your shoulders are slumped, your stomach feels heavy and every 10 to 20 minutes, you let out one of these *heavy sigh*.
Sound familiar? This is what I’ve been doing all day and the third sign that you have an F 2 F hangover, upon separation you actually question if it was a good idea at all to spend time together because now you miss them more than you did before you saw each other.
I know it’s crazy. But this has actually gone through my mind in the morning putting away the dishes I thought, “For real, is it really worth it? Now, I feel like crap, now that we’ve been together.”
All right. So if you have one or more of these symptoms You are not alone. You may have a case of The F 2 F hangover. And just like a real hangover where you suffer from loss and the case of a real hangover, it’s from dehydration, a loss of fluids, face-to-face hangovers are about a loss of that connection you feel, and it slows you down. And it makes you feel like crap.
Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. You’ve been there. It’s just like that morning after a New Year’s Eve party. You think, “You know what? I made a big mistake, because I feel this way, because I feel crappy like this, I should have never agreed to move abroad. Hey, I should have never accepted that job, or maybe I shouldn’t have married that guy from another country.” So, hang with me here, if you’re feeling any of these, I have had moments like that, too.
Just because something feels bad, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. And I know that sounds like a bad Taylor Swift song. But hear me out. How you feel, no matter how miserable you are, how you feel doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have ever moved abroad, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have accepted that job. Having a face-to-face hangover is actually a sign that something is right. Your relationship is right. To feel that loss means that you feel connected.
And the truth is, all that this face-to-face hangover means, is that you’re feeling vulnerable. It means that you care about someone, it means that your relationship is connected. All right. So with all whopper of a hangovers, you’ve got to take care of yourself in that state of vulnerability.
Here’s how to get over the face-to-face hangover. Step one: Just like a real hangover, take care of your physical needs first. Okay. So for me, I woke up with this, having been together, this face-to-face hangover and so, I drink my coffee a little more slowly. I told myself, it’s okay to feel off. And I took a long walk during my break today. Okay, so, when you’re feeling the face-to-face hangover when that separation has happened, take care of your physical needs first. Go to bed early that night. Make sure you get extra fresh air. Drink all that water that the doctors say you should be drinking. Take care of your needs first, your physical needs.
Tip two: Relive the good times. And this is exactly like you do if you’ve had a huge party the night before and things got out of hand and you’re feeling crappy the next day. The good part is reliving the good times. Okay, so I spent the first few moments of my morning reflecting on some of the conversations that I had with my mom and dad and the things I got to learn because we were together in that two and a half, three weeks. I finally found out why my mom didn’t text me that much when we were in Burkina Faso. Remember last episode, when I talked about what I’ve always wanted to know for my friends and family, what you really think about me living abroad, through that conversation my mom wished she was here. She shared with me what she hadn’t even articulated to herself about how she felt about me living in Burkina Faso. That wouldn’t have happened had we not sat together for weeks, having coffees and laughs and talks. I got to watch my youngest son read to his grandma and grandpa in the afternoons, as a five-year-old, just starting out to read. That was one of the coolest moments. And I mulled over all the fun things my dad said when we took our morning walks together. I also know to relive the good times. I’m going to be nursing this hangover over the next few days by looking at all the fun pictures that we took together. So tip 2 is relive the good times. Tip one: take care of your physical needs. Tip two: relive the good times.
Tip three: Rehydrate. Okay, just like drinking 10 glasses of water to make up for the dehydration when you have a real hangover, you will want to fill up on connection, rehydrate connection. And that could be with your kids, with your other loved ones, with your besties in the place that you live. So, how can you rehydrate when you’re feeling ugh from that connection being gone? For me, I know my kids are coming home in an hour, and I’m probably going to pounce on them when they get off the bus to make sure that I can do something fun with them, like read them a book or go swimming, or, I don’t know, play soccer. Do something where I can feel connected with people that I love. Okay, help me recharge that connection as well as them. I know, they’re feeling it too. So what can you do to rehydrate that connection?
There you have it, a few tips to help you recover from a face-to-face hangover. Remember, having a face-to-face hangover is actually a sign that something is right. You love and you’re loved no matter where you are.
So there you have it, thank you for joining me in this 3 in 1 for this special series. We talked about:
- What to keep in mind when you want to (or have to) connect at a distance.
- What not to forget when you connect face-to-face.
- And what to do when you have a pesky face-to-face hangover.
Join me next week when we’ll talk about how to pick yourself up after a challenging year. (But who would that apply to anyway? Any one? Anyone? Yeah… I knew there were a couple of you, of us, out there.)
You’ve been listening to Expat Happy Hour with Sundae Bean. Thank you for listening. I will leave you with the words of Alan Cohen: “When your intention is clear, so is the way.”
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