Tell us about your family! I'm married to Bart, an ambitious shoe man and together we have two blond & blue eyed children: Sylvester is 5 and Reva is 2.
The decision to move to a different country can be very challenging, but also very exciting!. As a family you grow and expand everybody’s horizons, we like to think it also builds the little ones confidence. Meet Madelon and her family of four, they moved from Amsterdam all the way to Los Angeles, this is their story!.
Where do you live and where did you move from? We're from Amsterdam. Well, the last 4 years we lived in a little town next to Amsterdam, but in our hearts it has always been Amsterdam. We moved to Los Angeles last summer.
Is this the first time you move abroad? Yes! I knew it was a possibility when I married Bart. It was always a dream of his to work abroad, but that wish moved to the back of our heads when we started a family an bought a house. I always told him that I would follow him if he really wanted to move. Just not the US. See where I ended up... It must be love!
How did you prepare the move as a family? Luckily, we had a long time to prepare and to get used to the idea (mainly me!). Arranging the move itself was not so difficult. There are many checklists and we found a great moving company that helped us with a lot of formalities. Bart was already in the US most of the time, I was still in the Netherlands. So he took care of everything there (finding a place to live, insurance, etc). I tried to arrange most things at home (selling our house, sorting our belongings, etc.).
The most important for us was to include our children, so we involved them as much as possible. We talked about it often, asked their (well, Reva was 1, so we focussed mostly on Sylvester) opinion and made it OUR big and positive adventure. In the end he was so ready to move! We made him finish his school year and on the last day of school he celebrated his move. We made cup cakes for all his friends and they made him a farewell book. He felt so special.
The day the movers came we left the house and stayed in a temporary house in the centre of Amsterdam. A little holiday before moving. We did go back to the house when it was empty to show them (and run and dance in it) and say goodbye to their rooms, house and neighborhood. I expected it to be a little difficult and emotional. It wasn't. At all. They were ready. We were ready.
About missing people: They do miss people, but never their old house or life. Saying goodbye to family and friends was the hardest. After a few months living in LA, I made a photo books of all the (Instagram) photos from that moving period, so they can look at them whenever they want and remember.
Was the language a challenge? Not for us, but Sylvester didn't speak any English. Because they start school a little later in the U.S., he had a whole year to learn. He's going to pre school for two days a week and is learning so fast, it's amazing. They tell you children pick it up fast, but I couldn't imagine him speaking English. They do, he does! He will start school in August and I just know he will do great.
How did you go about finding a good schools, daycare and work? Only Sylvester is going to pre school at the moment. We just wanted a nice and save environment for him where he would meet other kids and learn the language. He will start school in August and we visited a couple of schools in our area. There are some great schools, but we ended up choosing the smallest, most personal one. With not as many computers in the class room as the others...
How did you settle in? It went pretty fast, as a family. You just go on live your life! Find new places to go, new routines. But to be honest, I think we are not 100% settled in, in the country itself. We are still comparing it to "home".
What has been your biggest challenge? Getting used to the stay at home mother role. I always worked. The last months in the Netherlands I already stopped, because there was a lot to take care of (and I didn't really liked my last job anyway...). Slowly I have started to work a little bit, I have my own projects and make my own money again. I can't tell you how good that feels!
How long are you planning to stay? Not sure yet, all is open. The only thing we do know is that at this moment we would love Sylvester to go to middle school in the Netherlands, or Europe. That starts at age 12, so we still have 6 years to change our mind!
Tell us one thing you love with your new city/country… I love the weather! You can always go outside, never worry about the weather. And i love that there is so much to discover. In the Netherlands we never booked a hotel in a city 3 hours away. But we do that here all the time.
...and one thing you hate. I hate that it is so big! Especially LA is so divided without a real city centre. I miss taking my bike and go everywhere. Or even public transport. You can't live here without a car and I hate driving...
Do you ever get homesick? You know what? Not yet. Modern technology makes it so much easier! FaceTime, what's app, Instagram makes the world so small and everybody nearby. Of course there are things I miss. Moments I miss "home". Mostly the little things, the ones you take for granted, like all the food you know and love, knowing how "the system" works, running into friends (and their children), biking, that kind of things. But when there is something happening in our families and we can't go there and help, that's hard. But for now, we are good! We have each other.
What is it like going back to Amsterdam for a short time, like for vacation, is it still hard to leave? What is really home for you guys? It's wonderful, it's familiar, it's extremely busy and it's home. But it's confronting and sad in some sort of way too. Seeing your friends only once a year is hard. You are trying to win back the past year and when you reached the here and now you leave again. And I feel guilty when I see our family with my children. I took it away from both parties to grow up together. So yes, for me personally leaving is hard. But I'm glad to say it was only difficult for me. The children, and husband were so ready to go back. Next to that I’m happy to report the arriving home was better than I thought.
So I guess in the end home is where you're stuff is. Your home, your bed, your work or toys. For me however, home is still back in the Netherlands (I wrote a little blogpost about it a few weeks ago). But you know what? Maybe you should ask me again in a year or so... It only has been one year since we moved and that's the hardest part people tell me. I wish to believe them.
Madelon is co-founder, together with Vie, of a blog called The Door in the Wall. It's funny, refreshingly honest and very inspiring! You should go check it out and bookmark it.
Follow Madelon on Instagram: @madebylon