Expativersary Updates: Just Slow Down

by farrah on October 23, 2013 · 22 comments

Today is Day 3 of my reflection on our ‘Expativersary’- the one year mark. Monday and Tuesday I shared some other tidbits and updates, hope you stick with me throughout the week! If you’re about to ‘expat’- sit back and read. This is what it’s like.

I couldn’t decide what to write today. I figured, meh. I don’t have to post something every day, right? Today can slide. I have an idea for Friday- but for today- not so much. But then I decided to look back on the post I wrote October 25th of last year, and said- aha! There it is. That one. The one that stressed me out- and made my stomach cramp just reading it. The one where I needed to just SLOW DOWN.

The title of last year’s post that I am referring to is Update: 4 Days To Go. It’s crazy. I basically laundry list everything we have going on and purge all of my to do’s in one clean shot. The funny thing is going back and reading this post I am not struck with how much I kept it together, or impressed with how much I managed to cram into so little- while keeping the boys happy.. but more how I need to just freaking chill out for a minute and reel it all in. I can only imagine what I looked like. Crazy lady with the wild eyes, freaky hair and probably twitching.

I realize that we had a lot going on back then, especially at this time a year ago. But holy cannoli what a difference a year makes. Life here in the Netherlands is not set at warp speed/Defcon 5 and we’re enjoying that. I don’t race us to the mini van in the morning only to peel out of our subdivision gulping down my coffee as we go. We get up, we watch toons and eat breakfast and then I try to wheedle my husband into walking B to school. If he can’t, the three boys and I all go- but otherwise we stay in our pjs until around 10 am and take it easy.

I don’t have Target sales to peruse, a car to have washed, or post office errands to run. So much depends upon the weather that it sets the tone for the day. As soon as I come downstairs in the morning I open our front window shades (if you saw the HH episode- I express my dismay at having our lives on display via that window like they all do here. Now I find I get claustrophobic when the blinds are closed and I can’t see outside) and decide if we’re going to bike around, take a walk, or just remain inside to veg. In SC every day was a good weather day and that meant go!go!go!

So here, we’ve slowed down. Quite a bit. I think it has been a really good change for all of us and I feel more in tune with daily living than daily surviving. I was never someone who enjoyed errands or mile long to-do lists. I can’t tell you honestly the last time I made phone several calls to get something done. Truth is- I just do not live like that anymore and it’s really very nice.

Not to say that the Dutch aren’t busy- oh they are. But I don’t feel their incessant need to be on the go vibing off of them. At school drop off parents walk in, chat, take their child to the classroom and hang out for a bit. They aren’t sprinting out the door already going a million miles an hour in their mind. Sure they go to work or the gym or wherever it is that parents GO, but for the most part there’s no buzzzzzzz-ing with an impending sense of haste.

So score yet another point for the folks here. Me, a type A personality constantly zipping around and making up more crap for myself to do just to do- has been forced to reboot and bring it down a notch. Which isn’t such a bad thing. Not one bit.

What do you think? Are you a Speed Racer? How do you think you would handle going from a life of Mach 10 to definitely not Mach 10? 

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elizabeth October 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

In those first white-knuckling days what I loved was the complete screeching halt of our schedules. All we had was school. That’s it. Gradually we’ve added things back in but nothing like we had before. I’m hoping to keep some of the sanity when we move back.


2 farrah October 23, 2013 at 10:44 am

Yes! It was a white knuckle time. Perfect way to describe it- and then just poof! Nothing.

And I also like how we can slowly add things- but for me, at least, the small little things that add up to the Crazy Lady phase, is gone. At least for now.


3 Gayla October 23, 2013 at 9:15 am

I’m definitely NOT a Speed Racer and I love the slower pace here. I don’t miss driving (haven’t had a license or a car or a need to drive in 5 years now), I don’t miss 40-hour work weeks in an office, and I don’t miss the impatience that seems to permeate life in America. Ik hou van Holland 😉


4 farrah October 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

Me too 🙂 So with you Gayla!


5 Chamisa October 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

I love how slow life is here, too. If you’re in a hurry ’round here, you definitely stick out. But I can relate to the madness you had just before you left. We had a suitcase shot just like yours 😉


6 farrah October 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

What’s funny is that in the beginning I would get to school and be a frazzled person- just overwhelmed and kind of skitterish. People DID look at me like I was nuts and I totally stuck out. Great observation 🙂

The almighty luggage shot! Oh that was so nuts.


7 Denise October 23, 2013 at 11:07 am

I too enjoy the slower pace Europe seems to offer (although it’s the only way I know life as a parent). I just posted that the balance makes all the other trade-offs of living abroad worth it. Am loving your expativersary! Congratulations. My 9th “Irish Birthday” is next week!!


8 farrah October 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Thank you- and WOW! Super congrats on 9 🙂
Looking forward to reading your post- something I can easily relate to 🙂


9 Ace October 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Oh man, I agree with you when I look back at our own transition overseas. I want to shake myself and yell, “Get it together, woman!” The slower pace of things here is good for me, but I still need to check that American “nownownow” impatience at times. It’s a good lesson to (keep) learn(ing). =)


10 farrah October 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

You know I agree with you 110%.

Snap out of it woman! Seriously- can’t you just hear yourself?


11 Leigh Ann October 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

That sounds so divine. I’m not a huge rusher either, although I do hate the morning rush to get the girls to school at 7:45. But I can’t handle more than a couple of errands at a time.

I’m loving these updates!


12 farrah October 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Thank you! We HAVE to be out the door by 8:15- which I think is a huge factor in our morning routine. I think leaving anywhere before 8 has got to be painful for everyone!


13 Leighann October 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm

This sounds so relaxing. I’m a rusher and from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep I’m go go go. I would love to just take it easy.


14 farrah October 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

On the one hand being on the go has a feeling of such purpose and such accomplishment- so that’s great. But here, that would be completely out of place and people might look at me like I was on meth or something 🙂


15 Ann October 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I feel like I should add “Leigh” in front of my name to fit in or at least keep the trend going.

I never thought about things here being slower, but that does make sense. I always thought of it more in a “horrible customer service” standpoint. But, there are definitely things here that force you to slow down. Things being closed on Sundays, not feeling that rush to leave a restaurant, and since I haven’t had a license either.


16 farrah October 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm

You know, you’re really stealing the spotlight this week with your profound comments. I agree with you AGAIN and say- YES! How did I miss that? The whole customer service thing is pretty darn huge. A and I recently got into a discussion on how his boss thinks Americans are too focused on customer service, and make to much of it. I disagree and think it’s something that fits in may aspects of life. You know?


17 Julie October 24, 2013 at 1:31 am

Love this post! I agree about weather- I love to be outdoors, especially with kids, but there are days (important ones) that should be spent indoors, without the pressure to take advantage of the weather! I envy you although I’m pretty good at putting off the errands…:)


18 farrah October 24, 2013 at 6:04 am

You’re so right. Days inside are just as important. Funny how so many memories of ‘home’ are centered IN our old house, even though we were outside too. Sitting together is big. I’m glad I remember that.


19 Jen October 24, 2013 at 3:26 am

We always used to joke that there’s no Dutch word for customer service because it doesn’t exist – and honestly I don’t know if it is because life is more chilled, or if they really just don’t care!

I have to say that we’ve been really mindful of making sure our life here stays relaxed – I am getting up at 5.45am every day to get the kids to school by 7.15am, 15 miles away right now, but my husband is home by 6 every day, we don’t have the kids in a bunch of things etc, life is still more stressed than I’d like but I don’t feel like it’s any worse than it would be back in Europe.


20 farrah October 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

Your statement of 545 made me wince. I have become such a wimp since we get up after 7 (well- we’re also up several times at night still, fun!)

I am really interested in this customer service thing. I may have to do some research.


21 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey October 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm

PJ’s till 10am! We really are meant to be friends. It’s all about the daily living – slow and steady wins the race.


22 Heather November 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

That is one of my/our favorite reasons why we love visiting Europe so much…the pace. I think it makes the kids less stressed out too, that the adults don’t have that constant sense of panic like they do here in the US.


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