Parenting in Different Countries | My Australian Story

I’m from Vancouver, BC.  Met an Aussie on Halloween 1988 and by Valentine’s Day 1989 I was married, pregnant and living in Australia.  Partner lived in Australia so we’d only spent 3 weeks together in those first few months.  Pretty crazy and not something I’d ever recommend as now I know it takes 2 years to really get to know someone.  Anyhoo, was a successful marriage in that we had 2 beautiful children, lasted 15 years we have a very good relationship as far as exes go.  Spend birthdays, Xmas, etc. together with our kids.

He moved out New Years Day 2004 and we all moved back to Canada in March 2005.  Was not an easy move and not one I ever thought I’d do as Australia was home.  But, my wonderful mom was in her 80’s and had failing health.  She needed help, she needed me here. 

You can just imagine how the conversation went with my ex when I told him I wanted to move back to Canada with the kids, and I wanted him to come with us.  He’s Australian, loves Australia, as I do.  Anyway, he very graciously agreed to the move as visited my Mom and saw the condition she was in.

We had 5 wonderful years with her and 6 1/2 more challenging years as she suffered dementia and several health problems.  She died in my arms in June, 2016.

Kids were 10 and 15 when we immigrated to Vancouver so spent all their formative years here.  So, doubt we’ll ever end up living in Australia again.  But never say never :).

When I first moved back to Canada I knew I was going to start a parenting business but I had a slight disadvantage:  I’d raised my kids in Australia.  It was profoundly different from parenting in Canada, more so than I would’ve thought.  

A friend sent me this great article on Motherhood Around the World, here’s the Australian section.

Loved the article on the mom from Vancouver living in Australia, related to a lot of what she said.  The big difference between us was that she associated with expats.  I avoided that which I think helped me to assimilate quickly.

Funny Sideline:  When I first moved to Australia, the slang was the biggest challenge, didn’t know what they were saying half the time.  I worked in an office in Sydney before my son was born.  My boss asked me to get him a rubber and I just stood there stunned.  A co-worker came over and explained to me that in Australia a rubber is an eraser.  I said, “Thank gawd as I was just about to review my job description.”  Another time I was teaching an aerobics class and suggested they all root for one another as it was going to be a challenging class.  Their eyes widened and everyone just stared at me kinda frozen.  Someone walked over to the stage and whispered, “I’m assuming you don’t know that in Australia to root means to screw.”  My mic picked it up so the whole room heard.  I said, “Okay then, how about we just encourage one another”.  Aussies have a great sense of humour so those awkward moments were great.

The challenge with coaching parents in Canada was helping clients through their insecurities.  They all felt they were being judged.  I was confused by this as had never experienced anything like it in Australia.  Moms in Australia are non-competitive and very supportive of one another.  In playgroups and playgrounds we used to sit around and talk about what lousy moms we were, how horrible our kids were, etc.  Aussie humour is self-deprecating so that transferred right into parenting.  Also had a lot of Kiwi (New Zealand) friends who were the same.

A huge part of what I deal with with my Canadian and American clients is helping them deal with other people’s judgment, feeling almost bullied by other moms.  I rarely see that in clients from other parts of the world.

If you aren’t surrounded by supportive moms, go out and find them, they’re there.  Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s often just about survival.  There are lots of down-to-earth moms out there to hang out with, you may have to be the one to start the ball rolling, but go for it, what have you got to lose?

I’m planning on starting a little support group for new moms in my area (Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, BC).  I’m just looking for a private space, just for 4-5 of us plus strollers and little ones.  We’ll be sitting around talking about what mothering is really like:  the ups, downs and funny things that happen.  I’ll also be answering any questions but it’s going to be very casual.  The best part is that it’s FREE.  

If you know of moms who would be interested in this group, please let me know.  I’ll be talking about it more once I get the space set up and decide how I want to format it.  Your suggestions are welcome.  I don’t really want to call it a support group, more of just a friendly chat among new moms.

Feel free to email me at:  Lisa@BratBusters.com

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

New Mom Pining for Old Life Back

Here is my column on new Mom pining for her old life:

Q: I just had a baby six week ago and feel guilty that all I can think about is getting back to work. I love my darling little boy, but I’m just not cut out for this full-time mothering. I had a job I loved, great social life and tons of daily contact with people. I don’t enjoy being home alone all day doing laundry, changing diapers and watching TV. I want to hire a nanny and go back to work yet can’t handle the guilt from all around me. Am I a bad mother because I don’t enjoy mothering 24/7? Everyone is very critical of me and I’m getting angry. I think I need some help.

A: Many wonderful mothers are just like you and hate the drudgery of being home with a baby. They love the baby, just not the isolation, dirty diapers, cleaning, etc. I feel it’s best for children to have a parent at home raising them, but not at the expense of the parent’s happiness. The child is better having a happy mom part of the time than a miserable one all of the time.

Don’t worry about your feelings; they’re more common than you would probably think. We’re not all happy devoting ourselves to cooking, cleaning and mothering 24/7, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

You didn’t mention that you’re in any mother’s groups. They’re absolutely wonderful as you wouldn’t feel so alone. Not only would you have other mothers to chat with but I’ll bet you’d find some who feel exactly as you do. Look through your local newspapers for mommy groups near you, check out Meetup for parenting/mommy groups and just walk around the neighbourhood with baby in stroller and start chatting to other moms pushing strollers.

I can remember when my kids were babies and I’d have a really bad day after being up with them all night or something. I’d get us both dressed and out the door and instantly start to feel better. Hit the parks on nice days and the malls on rainy ones. You’re sure to run into other moms, and there’s nothing like sharing baby stories to bond two new moms.

Once you have new mommy friends you may start to enjoy being home with baby.

If not, then go back to work and forget about the guilt – just enjoy your job during the day and your baby the rest of the time.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach & Mom (email:  lisa@bratbusters.com)