26 May Flexible Work While Being Expat Parent
Talking About Mumlife Parenthood and Work-life Balance.
My guest Ulrika has settled to UK after studying and meeting her husband on the first term in University. We talked about accents and how people can recognize where you are from even after many years abroad. Your roots never leave you, it is always there she says.
She had her son 4.5 years ago and her outlook in life changed as she wanted to have more than just juggle family life and have a career. Her daughter born a year and a half ago made her question where she wanted to go next. Weather long commute with long train journey was what she wanted to do?
She looked for courses and found Digital Mums who upskill women and give them skillsets for them to have a career of their own and flexible working arrangements. Having a career for yourself and looking after your children is what Ulrika wanted to head to hence empowering mothers message resonated with her.
Motherhood and Flexible Working
The main reason for being a mother is that Ulrika wanted to stay at home to be there for her children and not just work as a career woman and see them an hour in the evenings. That was not what Ulrika wanted to do. She thought that social media marketing is a skill that is in demand and something that interested her. Also, lots of other women are in the same situation, mothers get sidelined because of the expensive childcare, long hours and inflexible working environment. UK is not known for flexible work arrangements.
Ulrika’s admitted been slightly envy about the 80% parental leave paid on the first 380 days in Sweden. Sweden is pushing the quality of parenting 5-6 months for fathers to take time off to stay home with their newborn as well. She wishes that there would be more flexibility for mothers in the UK however you need to make your own choices and grab the opportunities that are there for you.
We talked about how these same issues are present in Australia. Childcare is expensive in Australia and at times women decide not to return for financial reason, too expensive to work to childcare or bring back only a few hundred dollars.
Ulrika identifies herself as Swede more than anything else. Sharing her heritage as a Swedish mother has become more important after having kids. She keeps her culture alive singing Swedish songs, reading books in Swedish, brazing traditions and visiting Sweden very often. The children pick up on the language very fast after 6 weeks over summer in Sweden her son was fluent according to Ulrika. She acknowledges that her children will have a different association towards Sweden when they are older. Midsummer pole dances will be a strange tradition to some other people but for her this is important.
We talked about Mammi, Finnish delicatessen, swamp football, wife carrying world championships, Kalle Kaviar paste, and Danish Buns. We ended talking about food and how it is one of the thing that we associate with our cultural heritage. I cook with my kids and get them involved to get them to know the Finnish delicatessen. Having Swedish meatballs in Ikea Ulrika feels nostalgic when having the Swedish flag on the meatballs when my kids associate the Swedish flag to Ikea.
Nordic Living and Flexible Work
We talked about Nordic living, clean living, less is more, sustainable approach in life. Ulrika admitted that she was looking forward to the quiet time being outdoors, nature, in the forest, a long distance skiing like in her childhood. Midnight sun, tranquillity is something Ulrika associates to Nordic living. Getting that in London is difficult, however, her house is made of Ikea furniture, minimalist and with children, it is not always sustainable. We agree that we are doing the same things even we are a thousand kilometers apart. We do feel little stuck with the system in Australia when we cannot do certain things and you only know that when you have lived in Scandinavia.
You start looking at your homeland through rose-tinted glasses after being overseas for such a long time. Some developments in Sweden politically and socially have made her question about how things are run. Ulrika comes to a point where she is content on where is she is when I asked would she move back to Sweden with her family. She feels as Londoner and loves the international feel and culture, and she wonders if she would move back, would she have the same feeling living in Sweden.
She feels better that she is able to take longer breaks with her kids’ working as a digital nomad and have the flexibility to go when she wants to. Moving and living there is unlikely at this point in her life.
We talked if I would move back to Finland. I agreed that I would love to go for a one school term in Finland to show kids Finland and get them a taste of the Finnish school system. Being in another country, culture, language is enriching. I left Finland 1999 and been away such a long time I do not think I could move. I speak the language but I don’t understand some of the changes that have happened in society. You start questioning things and I believe that home is where you are happy.
Looking for future Ulrika is keeping her options open and she is looking forward to what future holds for her in @ultimately_social and where her journey takes her.
If you like this episode, you might try Episode 57 Blogging Finland for Living.
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