‘Our Summer of Adventure’
5 days after returning from a summer in Spain, I thought it would be a great time to do my blog post on what we learnt about living in a different country for the summer.
Last year we made the decision that we would spend this summer away living the ultimate beach life before our little boy starts nursery school in September.
Valencia was our location of choice, We chose here for a few reasons. One was, that we already knew another family there. Another was that from a previous visit, we loved the laid back feel of this city, and it’s also very accommodating for children.
So straight after our wedding in Ibiza we returned home and packed up for 3 months in the sunshine. This city is known for its temperatures and almost no rain EVER! Sounds amazing right?! Well it was just that, it was incredible to wake up to blue skies each morning, that’s definitely something I’ll miss being back in England.
There’s just something that sets you in a great mood walking outside in the morning to warm temperatures and blue sky. I even think it puts children in a good mood!
Our morning routine consisted of walking along the beach side to the park each day. Seeing how happy and relaxed our children were at this time was amazing. It was pretty much non stop smiles and laughter.
BUT…living abroad in the heat means that once 11am hits, it almost becomes unbearable to be outside. So we found we adopted the Spanish way of life of being indoors at these strong peaks of sunshine.
“This is where we perhaps made our first mistake of Spanish living and one we could of avoided.”
We didn’t check out our place before moving there. We actually did everything online, and just went by pictures. We booked a 2 story apartment and we actually only lived on one floor of it (due to an open stair way and two toddlers, we blocked off the top floor!) but it meant that time indoors on one floor – could sometimes be a challenge. There wasn’t much room to spread out!
We also now know that if your going to go and live abroad at peak season times, a pool is ESSENTIAL! Luckily we had friends in Valencia with a pool, but we felt you almost need your own pool with young children because due to the high temperature during the midday sun the beach is just too hot for them. We seemed to find that come early evening around 6pm was the perfect temperature for them.
“The language barrier was probably one of the biggest challenges for me.”
Picking a more traditional city to live means almost nobody speaks English. I do feel a little lazy writing this, expecting people to speak English. Although I feel that this is what we’ve almost become to expect when travelling abroad.
The language barrier was probably one of the biggest challenges for me. We had this ‘great idea’ that we would learn some Spanish before we went. Well this never happened! My first food shop in Spain took me double the time. I couldn’t find anything and I couldn’t ask anyone. I quickly learnt where the bread, cheese and wine was and this pretty much became our diet for the summer! – hence why I’m starting a juice cleanse this week (check out my insta stories for that one!)
As a mummy though I found this particularly hard. I didn’t realise how much I took for granted just being able to quickly communicate. Especially if we needed something quickly. We lived by using the google translate app. I definitely feel inspired to learn a language properly in the future though. Between us we picked up a lot of vocabulary and our understanding was definitely got a better understanding towards the end. However, our children definitely picked up more spoken words than us. Which was another amazing thing to see, just how quick and easy children can adept to another way of life and even a new language. If I was going to make a permanent move abroad, this would definitely be the time while they are so young.
A huge bonus of our summer was being in a city where we already had friends. Especially for our first time doing this kind of thing. I don’t actually think we could of coped otherwise, I think we must of asked about 10 questions a day on various things. If anyone is thinking of doing something similar for the first time – it is a huge advantage to know someone from the area. You don’t realise until your there, how much you take for granted at home knowing simple things such as where’s best to park, can you take a buggy to that certain place, where can I get a certain brand of something, where’s best to eat, is there any indoor children’s activities. So many things where if you don’t speak the language it’s hard to find. Another huge plus was knowing a family with children a similar age, meaning regular play dates and some down time for us.
I don’t think our summer would of been half as enjoyable without this wonderful family we are lucky enough to call friends. Thank you Daniel, Marie, Win and Adella!
Home Sweet Home
This definitely leads me on to the topic of feelings of being away from home. Now I’m going to sound such a baby but I was homesick after a week. Once the initial ‘Oh this isn’t a holiday, we are here much longer’ feeling kicked in. I adore travelling but I also love home. I would of probably come home after 10 days if Alex had let me, so there was definitely an adjustment period. It was made easier by the fact my mum came to visit. Again, this makes me sound such a baby, but I missed my mum. I speak to my mum sometimes up to about 10 times a day. We speak everyday pretty much without fail so it was hard to be away. However now looking back, the 3 months went in a blink of an eye and I’m so glad Alex never let me come home as we had a summer to remember and made so many memories as a family.
One of my biggest learnings was that personally as a mummy I really need some ‘silent time’. Let me explain myself as I don’t mean time to go and do my own thing necessarily. I mean at home, sometimes I enjoy just going upstairs for 20 mins while Alex is downstairs with the children. Even if I’m folding clothes and putting them away or hanging out some washing. I know all non mums reading this will be thinking ‘do you seriously count that as me time?!’ Well sorry but sometimes as a mum on a busy day, that’s about as much as you get.
So living in a one floor apartment I didn’t get that all summer and I really missed it. I actually realised for me as a person and as a mum it’s vital for my own mindset to have this time. Which is why I’m actually implementing a new morning routine to build in an hour of me time. I’ve never been a morning person but I’m realising that’s a mindset. So here’s to a new routine and making sure I get that valuable time. I’ll keep you posted on this another time….
One of the biggest things we noticed as a family was (despite the bread and cheese for me and Alex!) was how healthy we actually were during that 3 months. I don’t know if it is the sunshine or the relaxed lifestyle but we didn’t have a snotty nose in site! Even with our children playing with other children. I know that when at home, soft play/nursery/play dates – it seems relentless with the little coughs, and colds they pick up. We had 3 months of literally nothing and it was a dream.
I would recommend this relaxed way of life to anyone. In fact we will definitely do something similar next summer, maybe in a different location. I’m very lucky in that because I work remotely, I can travel and work from anywhere in the world. I have to admit – to distinguish from a holiday and living abroad is hard! I could of easily spent the entire summer doing nothing. However, I did work my business still every day even if it wasn’t to the extent I would at home. I would say if your self employed and wanting to do something similar, this is definitely a challenge but at the same one a good and privileged one to have.
Our Spanish adventure has taught me so much about a different culture, language, me as a person and about our family. We are truly grateful for the experiences we’ve had, the friendships we’ve made and to be able to give our children this incredible summer.
The tan may fade but the memories will sure last forever ❤️