What it’s Like

Quite a few people have been asking what it’s been like to have relocated, and I feel like I don’t have a great answer. Because currently, it doesn’t feel like, well, much of anything.


I feel like I should have a better answer. Something like going to museums, sitting up in late night philosopher’s cafes, punting. Making international friends and having exciting adventures.

But the reality is, I spend my days with an 18-month-old.

If you are not familiar with 18-month-olds, their day looks something like this: wake-eat-rampage-nap-wake-eat-rampage-eat-bath-bed. Most of what I spend my days at is finding places Isaac can run/climb/throw/jump/run without hurting himself, or making other people want to hurt me.

This means that instead of museums, pubs, historic walks and punts, I spend most of my days at playgrounds and children’s centres. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely, and I am starting to get to know a few other mums of toddlers, but it isn’t terribly exciting.

I also have the strange feeling of being something like a non-entity. Of course I’ve said my goodbyes to people in Vancouver, but with no colleagues of my own here, and just a few acquaintances, I’m in the bubble of the in-between. Like I’ve left one place, but haven’t really fully arrived in the other.

We do venture a bit further afield on weekends when Neil and I can tag-team wrangling Isaac (though so far, mostly to do things like buy a car, or go to IKEA), but the Monday-to-Friday day-to-day makes for pretty unadventurous tales.

Hopefully once we’re settled into our new place (moving in this weekend!) we’ll have more time on weekends for more story-worthy adventures.

And if you have any tips for managing to do more interesting things with busy, energetic toddlers, I’m all ears!

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4 thoughts on “What it’s Like

  1. Raul Pacheco (@hummingbird604)

    I completely empathize with you. A lot of people ask me the same question as well. Our situations are quite different in that (a) I didn’t relocate with my partner (b) I was the one relocating for a new job (c) I’m moving to a country where I am extremely familiar with and (d) my family is here. Ah, (e) I don’t have a toddler 🙂 (and yours is a totally adorable one!! but I’m sure it takes a lot of your time to take care of him – trust me, 2.5 months with my 1.5 and 4.5 yr old nephews gave me insight into that).

    I think what would be the change you would notice is in those small things that people take for granted: people in Canada drive on the right, in England on the left. Politeness and courtesy may be different, and social norms maybe about the same. But I think the biggest change you will notice (I hope) will be in YOU. You have, in fact, relocated. You took your son, your belongings and followed Neil. You three made the adventure, and the jump. One of the things that makes families stronger is actually moving across countries together (or, break them as well but you seem to be doing just fine).

    You are an incredibly brave, wonderfully generous woman with an amazing ability to give of yourself, and you will find, I think and I hope, that in this move, you will learn a lot about YOU and how you approach the world. Museums, pubs, bars, etc. those can wait. Now you have time to be you (and yes, Isaac’s mom, and Neil’s wife) but more than anything, you are now you in a different context. And that’s a wonderful experiment.

    Being me in Mexico is a completely different ball game than it was in Canada. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it and I’m loving reading your dispatches from the Old Continent.

    Much love,
    Raul Pacheco (@hummingbird604)´s last blog post ..Freelance Camp Vancouver 2012 (September 15, 2012)

    Jen Watkiss Reply:

    Thanks Raul! That comment is more poignant than you know, because I have been feeling like I lost a bit of “me” in this move. I am certainly Neil’s Wife, and Isaac’s Mum, but I’m not quite sure who “Jen in England” is yet. And honestly, it’s had me a little bit bummed out. I have perhaps been hanging back a bit too much. I need to take my own advice and lean into this a little more and make sure I’m making my own experience, rather than (or realistically, as well as) facilitating Neil and Isaac’s experiences, and just going along for the ride.

  2. Sue

    I remember how difficult it was to think about anything else – especially have a self-reflective ponder about my life and my identity – when I was trying to keep Simon from falling off a playground or eating wood chips. I was probably more absent-minded than is necessarily admirable (but disguised it as laissez-faire parenting).

    If I may make a suggestion, it would be to seek out a nanny/babysitter service and put some money in the budget for daytime care, maybe once a week, so you can go off and explore on your own. It may be convenient and possible for you to be Isaac’s mom 100% of the time right now, but that doesn’t make it a good thing for you. Or him, for that matter. As you make more friends with other toddler moms you can do playdate swaps so you don’t have to pay for the private time, but in the short term I think it’s a good thing to put into the household budget.
    Sue´s last blog post ..Birthday 36 Reflections

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