Recently one of my followers (this sounds so amazing to say!) asked me if I had any tips on dealing with long-distance family.
A lot of people struggle with being away from their family and fear what will happen in the first year of their emigration.
In this post I share some tips on how to deal with distance and loved ones.
There are a few steps that I can advise to you when it comes to having your family far away. If it is for a temporarily period or permanent, far away or just not as close as you were used to, there are ways to deal with the distance that separates you.
PREPARE FOR THE GOODBYE
The first step is the most important one. This step sets the tone for the rest to come. Prepare. Prepare yourself, but also the people around you for the new life situation that is approaching.
Start with yourself. You can prepare yourself for the distance by asking yourself the question ‘In what ways would I like to stay in contact with the people I will be missing?’
Am I able to call them? Schedule FaceTime dates? Other ways?
My biggest help was this blog, in combination with my YouTube Channel.
The blog allows me to write about and explain my feelings and experiences. I write about ups and downs, struggles and wins.
It also lets me help other people in the same situation, which makes me feel connected in a way.
The YouTube Channel gives me something extra. It allows me to share footage with my loved ones far away. Not only can I tell them about a great experience, I can show them.
This brings a special touch and gives them something to look forward too. The videos also make them feel included in my life. They can see what I am doing, how I am feeling and can enjoy my experiences with me. This also opens up a conversation. A lot of my family members message me after I upload a new video: ‘That was so cool’ ‘I loved watching that’ ‘You look really happy!’ – it connects us.
So make a short list for yourself with things you want to do and stick to them once you move.
The ones who get left behind
Set expectations with your loved ones about the level of contact. My friends and family know I won’t be able to FaceTime ever day, due to time difference, work and the fact that I am simply living a new life now where other things take my time.
By setting expectations before you leave and start your new adventure, they don’t get left disappointed.
For example, I ring my sister/mum/dad/best friend every day on my way home from work. If they answer, I chat to them for 15-20 minutes, if they don’t I try again the next day.
I go around that way, I am in the car, so it’s not like I have other things to do and that way I speak to each one of them regularly. If I can’t reach them, I will either leave it at that or send them a quick voice memo ‘Hi I’m all good, just ringing to see if you were there! I’ll try again tomorrow’.
And in the honest truth, the people that really care don’t mind if they don’t talk to you for a bit. My best friend and I have the most respect and love for each other that we know we both think about one another all the time. We would love to see each other every day like we used to, but we understand the situation has changed.
A quick voice memo, video or call will do – we both know where we stand.
So trust the relationships you have build – if they are right and truthful they won’t disappear as you move on. They will last forever, just from a little further away.
BEING AWAY FOR THE FIRST YEAR
When my follower asked the question ‘How do you deal with family far away?’, she mentioned that she is worried about her first year.
In my honest opinion, don’t worry about the first year – The first year is exciting, you have only just started your adventure! You don’t have time to miss anybody!
Your new experiences will take up all of your time. My first year flew by, from getting a job, continuing my visa journey to enjoying the Australian lifestyle. It was gone with one blink of an eye! You don’t have the time to miss your loved ones. And this doesn’t mean you don’t miss them at all and won’t ever call, but you are going to be busy. Busy setting up your new life, experiencing new things, meeting new people and getting used and adjusting to new things. You are in the process of getting used to a new language, adjusting to a new living surrounding. You will be having the best time!
The first your for the home front
The first year is mainly hard for the home front. These people have been left with the empty space you left behind. I remember that my family said that the first year was difficult, because they had to experience events without me. They had to get used to not having me there, not having to invite me to things or work with my schedule like they had been doing their whole life.
So the thing that might make the first year difficult for yourself is the pulling of the people you left behind. The pulling for attention, phone calls, updates, phone calls and post cards. That is why it is so important to set an expectation, as we talked about before, to not disappoint them. Tell them when they ask ‘Can I ring you tomorrow when I am catching up with this and this person?’ – Yes, but I am not 100% sure that I will be able to answer. Or when they ask as a joke ‘Can you come to this event?’ – I wish I could, but I am living my dream over here! Hope you guys have the best time and send me some photo’s please!
Be completely honest about the attention you can give, so you don’t let them down.
BUILDING LIFE WITHOUT YOUR FAM AROUND
Then after that first year of excitement, you are settled down and then what?
This is the part where the missing turns. The first year your friends and family were battling but they have a new routine. They still miss you, but have worked out a way to do their lives without you being close. And now you are the one that needs to find this routine.
You found a job, your visa is settled and your dream has come true. This is when the hard part starts, because after organising and preparing so many things, you made it. You did it.
You are now living your dream, but the people you love aren’t there to share it with and they have continued their lives without your presence.
After the first year
The empty feeling that you might experience here needs to be filled.
I would like to recommend you to be pre-active in building a life in the new place that you moved to. Try to do this in the first year of living there.
The first year is busy and hectic, but also a great time to try new things and meet new people.
What helped me the most was having a family here. Having my boyfriend and his family to celebrate the holidays with, but also to share experiences with, plan weekends and hang out with day to day. It makes the missing easier.
But if you don’t have a relationship or any familiar people where you are moving to, don’t worry, there are so many ways to get in touch with people.
A few other things I did as well, just so I wouldn’t fully reply on my boyfriend to entertain me, are these:
I joined a gym and got to know some people there. I don’t necessary meet up with them or anything, but walking into this gym every day and having people recognise me, ask me how I am, share my passion of healthy living is enough.
Another thing I did was post a ‘cry for help’ on social media. Facebook has a lot of groups for people who have moved. I posted a ‘I am looking for a friend’-post and got responses from other people that did the same thing, lived 10 minutes away and were looking for some company. I’ve got 2 Dutch friends here now for who I am so grateful!
Another thing that really helped my whole family and myself was planning our first reunion. I left in December 2016 and my parents and sister planned to come visit in March 2018.
The fact we knew there was going to be a reunion, that they would come and see me in my new life was a big help.
Their visit was amazing and it was so nice to show them where I life and work. And this also helped them when they left. If I know mention work, they know where it is. If I tell them about my boyfriends parents, they now know who they are.
They also got a lot of peace from seeing me – I am doing well, I am happy and living the life I always wanted, but I love them at the same time.
Which bring me to my very last, but most important thing
Always tell the truth
Tell your family that you love them and didn’t leave them because you didn’t. There was just a different place that you wanted to spend your life.
I always tell my best friend I miss her and that, even if we don’t talk every day or week, I always think of her.
These people that you love, but left need to hear this. Either as a confirmation that you didn’t leave them because you didn’t love them, but also because they don’t see you.
You can’t show them as much as you did before, so you have to use your words more.
I love you
Of course I miss you
I am so proud of you
These are things that need to be said more than shown, because there is a world between you and we all want to be clear on our feelings.
Saying this makes the missing easier. They didn’t forget you and you didn’t forget them. And we never will.
- Set up a plan for yourself how you want to stay in touch Facetime, phonecalls, weekly vlogs on YouTube
- Set expectations for the people you want to stay in touch with When, how often
- Understand their situation, especially in the first year
- Actively build your new life Join a club, do an activity, ask people for their company
- Talk and talk and talk – in your absence, your words are your most powerful tool
I hope this was helpful and will prepare you for your journey !
If you have any questions, please comment below and I will try to provide you with an answer based on my experience.