ExpatActually

8 Creative Ways to Survive Quarantine as an Expat

March 15, 2020

Are you living abroad and stuck in quarantine? Whether self-prescribed or government mandated, it can make you looney after awhile...especially with kids in the house. The current situation around the globe has kept us at home, here in Germany.

It goes deeper for us, though, because we've had to make the unfortunate decision to cancel our annual trip back to the States. Yes...annual trip. This means, once a year I get to see my family and childhood friends. My heart is broken.

Living abroad is tough enough when you miss out on birthdays, weddings, weekend getaways, Christmas, and special family gatherings. Going home takes on a drastically different meaning when you only get those warm hugs and traditional meals once a year.

My eldest was going to wake up celebrating his sixth birthday surrounded by grandparents and be cherished on his special day. Now, that won't happen. I've had to cancel and reschedule various dinners and get-togethers for that same trip. Although, I know many others are in worse off situations than myself.

Forget cancelling vacations and work meetings...

One girl can't make it back to Australia for her father's funeral, because they've closed borders. Another has to postpone her wedding in Cali, because her family in Greece is banned from entering the US. Another friend had her mom flying in for the birth of her baby, but now her mom's flight is canceled because of border closures within the EU.

Corona Virus (COVID-19) has impacted everyone around the globe in some form or fashion. But if you are living abroad and quarantined with your children, I've listed a few creative ways to pass time. Umm hello...our schools in Bavaria have locked their doors for three weeks + the two weeks following for Easter break. Therefore, our kiddos will be home for five weeks! We will be doing all.the.things.

8 Creative Ways to Entertain Your Kids Abroad

1. Make a paper chain garland - If this quarantine has forced you to alter possibilities of seeing loved ones, then make a paper, chain garland to count down the days until they see: nana, grandpa, fav cousin, witty aunt, fun uncle, whoever your kids are whining to see.

2. Teach them to read/write in your native langauge- If you have kindergarten aged kiddos, this is perfect. If you and your partner grew up in different countries and you are raising your kids in another, this is a future gift for them.

Ex.) Mom grew up in France. Dad was born in Germany. Kids are being raised in China. If they are going to international school, English will also be tossed in there. But giving them the gift to communicate with grandparents is priceless! Show them their French and German roots. I've seen too many times where kids can't talk to their elderly relatives, and it's so sad.

3. Watch movies/cartoons or listen to music in that specific language- While you have your kids' attention, broaden their minds and expose them to more media outlets. It will make learning new language phrases more fun than textbook lessons.

4. Order books about their current country- ...and read, read, read. If they are older, teach them about the history and significance of where they are living. If your child is into fashion, go that route. Music? Sports? Dig up info on those topics. It's an amazing experience for them to live abroad; most kids aren't giving the opportunity. Plant the seed of appreciation now. Younger kids would enjoy learning about local wildlife through picture books.

5. Research native cuisine- Look at options online together. Have them choose a dish. Make a list of ingredients and go shopping together. Chances are, it's ingredients you might not already have in your pantry, and it would be fascinating to discover new words, products, and produce together. Get home and cook it as a team.

6. Write letters to friends in previous countries- If your kids have grown up in more than one country- chances are, they miss their old pals more than you know. Look at old pictures together, tell stories, even set up FaceTime chats. But sit down and write an old-fashioned letter. If they are itty bitty- have them draw a picture, go crazy with stickers, trace their little hands, cover it in stamps, and send it off with love. Their mommas and daddies will appreciate the thought during this time as well.

Have friends moving abroad?

Make sure they read this first!

Long-Term Effects of Living Abroad and What To Do

7. Hike around famous landmarks - When you are supposed to be practicing social distancing, hiking in the fresh air is one of the safest yet most wonderful activities to do. Exercise, sunshine, and cleaning out the lungs? Oh yes! Sneak in a little education unbeknownst to them, and...huge win for you.

8. If all else fails... FaceTime for the WIN! Anyone and everyone you've been meaning to catch up with...now is the time 🙂

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One comment on “8 Creative Ways to Survive Quarantine as an Expat”

  1. I love this! I am Australian living in Canada so can totally relate to the stories that you told. I also have friends who cannot go home to get married (they are from Israel but live in Toronto). Another friend of mine is also stuck in Morocco, trying to find a way back to Canada!
    It is definitely a scary time!
    The tips you provided are so helpful. Although I don’t have kids, I can definitely use some of these. My partner is currently trying to learn a language and we are both avid hikers! Yesterday we went for a long drive and found a beautiful isolated hiking spot 🙂

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