General, Home Improvement, Self-Care

Where in the World Should you Live?

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

The world is a big place. Incidentally, it’s also your oyster, which means that you have no reason to live forever in the same place. More and more families choose to move abroad for a variety of good reasons, and very few of them find the need to come back. They are happy in their new life. If you find yourself in a position where you need to move to a new country, it’s important to know that it could be a positive step in your life.

There’s one important question that needs to be answered at first: Why would you want to move abroad? A lot of people move for professional reasons: They are offered a promotion and take the next logical step in their career. Others choose to move for family reasons. Finally, some people need a change in their life, and they decide to get a fresh start away from their everyday stress. There are many circumstances in which you can decide where to live. So where is right for you and your family, assuming you were in a similar situation?

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The expat life, what for?

When you’re thinking about moving abroad, it’s natural to feel nervous about it. Moving homes it stressful, but changing country in the process can feel overwhelming. However, don’t panic because the expat life makes you happier, healthier and – best of all – wealthier. According to this article telegraph.co.uk/expat/health/does-expat-life-really-make-you-healthier-wealthier-and-happier/  that reviews the experiences of expat citizens in the world, a whopping 69% of expats found that their life abroad has had a positive influence on their health, which is over 10% more than people who have not left their country. Don’t they say that a change of air is good for you? The expats agree about it: Living in more than one country makes you healthier. More importantly, 63% of expat reported that they were happy in their life, with is again 10% more than people who stayed at home. While this might sound too good to be true, in reality, a lot of expats struggle when they go back to their country of origin, as they found that living abroad was stress-free and more relaxed. They’ve redefined home as the place where they feel good in their skin, and more often than not, that place is under a new sky.

Plan mindfully

If this has convinced you to live in a different country, you will need to take things slowly at first. It’s big decision to take, especially when you have a family, so it’s essential to plan it carefully and to discuss it at length with your other half and your children. Kids, especially young ones, thrive routine and stability, so you can expect an international move to throw them off balance for a time.

(Related post: Things You Need To Know Before Moving To A New Country)

Therefore if you want to live the expat dream described above, you will have to take the time to introduce the idea to your kids and to help them understand the implications. Take their feeling on board too: Being scared and stressed is to be expected, and you shouldn’t ignore their fears. In fact, the more you talk to them about it, and explain how the other country is going to be, the easier it’s going to be for them. Additionally, kids are not the only ones to stress out. Moving abroad means that you need to think of finding a property, dealing with a new healthcare system, and getting used to new foods and routines. In short, the earlier you start to gather information and plan for your new life, the smoother it’ll be.

But there is still the question of where to move, where you expat life is going to be. If you can pick a destination, it’s crucial that you stay true to your priorities and to the things that you have built your happiness on. Below, you will find a few ideas to get started to look into new destinations around the world.

Somewhere close and known

If you don’t want to dive into a completely unknown and unfamiliar culture, you could try to look into the neighboring countries. Canada, especially, is an excellent choice for families as the population is renowned for being one of the friendliest on the planet. Canadians are indeed incredibly welcoming, and they seem to be kinder and easier-going than most other countries – which isn’t to say that Americans aren’t friendly.

There’s also a clear advantage to living in Canada, and that is the absence of language barrier. While a lot of Canadians are bilingual French and English, you can get by if you only speak English in any part of Canada. And if you decide to live in Quebec, you will soon pick the language anyway! You may also be thinking of the breath-taking landscapes in Canada. But there’s something that most people forget about the country, and it’s the cleanliness of its air. Whitehorse, the largest city in northern Canada, has some of the cleanest air in the world, compared to other urban areas according to the WHO.

Somewhere with shorter working hours and more family time

If you worry that you won’t have enough time for your family in your expat life, you may be interested in the family-friendly approach in the Swedish society. Sweden offers a very long parental leave for both parents that can be taken up until a child turns eight. Additionally, with always at heart the desire to improve the work/life balance, Swedish companies have tried a 6-hour working day for the past 2 years with a lot of success. The media have dismissed the experiment as being costly, but the social and health benefits to the Swedish households were positive. Who knows? The Swedish government might introduce a new regulation on reduced weeks?

Somewhere far away for a new start

If you are up for a brand new start in a new culture, you’ll love the idea to move to Indonesia. This is the life that this couple has started in Jakarta and they don’t regret a minute of it. They have household help at home, which a standard habit in Indonesia and they also enjoy a lot of free time together to visit the world and learn Asian languages. If you’re feeling inspired by their story, you might want to take a look at the real estate market in Indonesia, rumahdijual.com/cibubur/apartemen-cibubur-village. The cost of living and housing is cheap, and you can get a big property at a bargain price!

Somewhere warm and affordable

For all those who crave a warm spot in the sun in a country that isn’t too culturally different from the US, but that remains refreshing, give Portugal a chance. According to this expat guideline livinginportugal.com/en/why-portugal/one-of-the-best-places-to-live, this southern European country is one of the places to live and own a house. Not only is the climate extremely mild with around 3,300 hours of sunshine per year, but the cost of living is affordable too. Lisbon, the capital, is one of the cities in the world with the best quality of life, which combines as said the cost of living and the taxes, but also the friendly population, the relaxed lifestyle and the geographical location.

So with this abundance of choices, now’s the time to ask yourself where your expat life should take you.

General, Self-Care

What Does Self-Care Look Like For You?

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Life is a busy thing, isn’t it? Flitting from commute to commute, working eight hours a day in a stuffy office for the benefit of someone else only to come home and have a hyperactive set of children to handle is a lot for some.

Family life is wonderful, but sometimes it can be so full on that you want to take pause and breathe for a moment – not something that every parent gets to do! Finding and appreciating a balance is an important part of life, but when the days smash into each other you can find getting a balance very difficult.

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It’s important to feel compassion for those in the world around you, but it’s hard for a lot of people to feel that same compassion for themselves. When you are so busy looking after everyone else in your life, it’s often easy to overlook yourself and this can end up feeling like bricks stacked on your shoulders.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to grab hold of that moment to pause and take a second to remember that you are worth some self-love. Look at your daily routine and decide where you fit yourself into your own life. Is it during the commute? Is it during the evening housework? Nope, neither of those places allows for you to take a moment and appreciate yourself. You are important, too, and you have to remember that.

Adding self-care to every day, even if for just ten minutes every day, can be intimidating to some people. You may feel like you don’t have the time for yourself and that may be your first defense when someone asks you about taking time for yourself. The thing is, you DO have the time for yourself, you just have to decide to take it.

Adding self-care into your daily routine is the smartest thing that you could do for yourself. There are many ways you can care for yourself, and we’ve put some of those ways below for you.

Sleep

It’s something we all have to do every single day if we want to wake up and feel ready to take on a new day of tasks. However, you’d be surprised at the number of people who do not go to bed when they are tired. Your sleep space needs to be optimized for relaxation and therefore you should be looking at mattress reviews for your bed to ensure you get the best support you need for a decent night of sleep.

You should also be ensuring that your bedroom is decorated in muted tones with low, soft lighting so that you can instantly feel calm when you walk in through the door. Sleep should be a big part of your self-care routine, and to make that happen you need to leave the screens and smartphones behind and keep your bedroom routine timed. Give yourself the gift of rest for more than three hours a day and you’ll quickly feel the difference.

Mindful Healthy Eating

There is something so unhealthy about stuffing your face with food as fast as possible. Meals should be an enjoyable time of day, a time where you can sit and savor new flavors and textures. You shouldn’t be shoveling down cheap, tasteless and bland food just to fill your stomach.

You are what you eat, and if you’re living on ramen and toast, you aren’t going to feel particularly energized. Getting away from feeling sluggish is so important, and so you need to start planning your meals so that you are eating in a healthy and mindful way, careful of what you nourish your body with. This will not only help you feel more energized, it’ll make you feel worthwhile and that’s what the aim is here.

Related post: How to Teach Your Children to Make Healthy Food Choices

Recognize Your Wins

You – like a lot of people – spend a lot of time beating yourself up about the things you miss. The work deadline you didn’t quite meet, the track meet for the kids you didn’t get to on time and so missed. The to-do list housework items that never seem to get finished. You can spend a lot of time beating yourself up about the things you’ve done wrong, but what about the things you have done right? What about the times you spend with the children, making them feel happy and wanted and loved? What about the fact you cleaned out the garage and made room for the second car? Did you do the laundry? Each of these may sound like small achievements, but they are still wins in your life and you should give yourself a moment to celebrate those wins.

Unplug Your Life

We live in a digital world and it’s sometimes so easy to go from computer screen, to television screen, to smartphone screen. No matter where you go, you can sit and stare at the technology around you. If you want to practice good self-care, you need to take a step away from the tech and unplug.

Take yourself to the nearest beach and leave the smartphone at home. Sit down on the beach and pay attention to your senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? That sunset looks so much prettier when you’re looking at it with your eyes and not your phone camera. You can watch the crabs on the beach and hear the lull of the waves.

Unplugging from all the technology is a blessing that cannot be contained once you get started, so make a point of unplugging at least once a week to get connected with yourself.

Self-care looks different for everyone who participates in it, so never feel like the way you care about yourself is the wrong way. You can be a force of nature in your life but only if you recognize and appreciate who you are as a person first, and don’t lose sight of your identity along the way.

What little things do you add into your day for self-care?

What Does Self-Care Look Like For You? - The Southern Smiths: Practical tips for squeezing some YOU time into your busy day!
General, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in 5 Countries

Happy Thanksgiving! Today is the day we gather with friends and family, and really focus on how thankful we are to have survived another year. It’s definitely not about the food. Not at all.

I found some interesting things out this month! Did you know, the United States isn’t the only country to celebrate Thanksgiving?

I’m going to go over traditions in four other countries, and list out some of our own as well!

So, what country comes first?

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Japan

Today, while we’re celebrating our harvest festivals, Japan is having a different type of celebration.

On the 23rd of November every year, Japan celebrates   Kinrō Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day)

This holiday they commemorate labor and production, and they give one another thanks.

Different events are held throughout Japan, like the Nagano Labor Festival. This festival encourages peace and human rights, as well as caring for the environment.

It’s not uncommon for school children to create drawings and gift them to the local police stations.

Germany

In most Protestant churches across Germany, the first Sunday in October is   Erntedankfest or The Harvest Thanksgiving Festival

This is a Christian celebration where God is thanked for the gifts of the harvest. The date has been moved many times in history, but in 1972 the Roman Catholic German Bishops’ Conference set the first Sunday of October as a fixed date, without making it a stipulation across other communities.

There are various celebrations, from citywide parades to small church gatherings.

Canada

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Similar to the United States and Germany, theirs is a celebration of thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Though there are religious sects, it is a mostly secular holiday. It’s celebrated almost identically to the way the United States celebrates.

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are the only provinces that do not have Thanksgiving as a statutory holiday.

The United States

Most people reading today are probably from the United States.

We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. It is also a celebration of the blessings received through the year, including the harvest.

We get together with family and friends, watch parades, football, and eat pretty much the same meal every year. But it never gets old, at least not in my family.

This holiday is generally regarded as the start of the Holiday season for most Americans, though others might argue that Halloween is the true beginning of the season.

The Netherlands

Each year on the morning of the American Thanksgiving Day in the   Pieterskerk (a Gothic church in Leiden), a non-denominational service is held. This service commemorates the pilgrims who migrated to Plymouth Plantation that had resided in Leiden from 1609-1620 and left records of their births, marriages, and deaths.

In Protestant churches, the first Wednesday in November is Dankdag, or Thanksgiving. This is not a public holiday and those who recognize it go to church in the evening, or take the day off and attend the morning service.

Do you know of any celebrations similar to Thanksgiving? What are they?

Thanksgiving in 5 Countries - The Southern Smiths: I go over Thanksgiving Traditions across the world, From the United States to The Netherlands.
General, Self-Care

Are You Washing Your Hair Correctly?

Chances are, you’re not. Just lather, rinse, repeat, right?

Not exactly.

When I was really, really young, TRESemmé was the hot new thing. I remember there always used to be tips on the back of the bottle, and that’s what activated my interest in proper hair washing techniques.

Let’s get into a few common incorrect ways we wash our hair

                                                          Incorrect

Not soaking your hair

Just standing in the shower for a few seconds isn’t really enough to penetrate through the layers of hair. You want all of your hair wet, not just the top layer

Using the wrong temperature

If your water is too hot, it will open the cuticles and create more frizz. No amount of conditioner is going to reverse the effects of hot water.

Not brushing your hair before jumping in

Brushing out your hair before you shower is super important. It helps loosen dirt and removes any knots or tangles that might be hiding product.

So, what’s the right way to wash hair?

Brush your hair before getting in the shower, to detangle and loosen up the dirt and product from the day.

Make sure /all/ of your hair is wet before starting to shampoo. You want the water to break up and wash away some of the product that can prevent your shampoo from penetrating your hair.

When you begin, work the shampoo into your roots. This is where most of the dirt and debris is going to be. Scrub your scalp, not your hair.

Rinse the shampoo completely. In some instances, you may want to shampoo a second time.

To prevent frizz, switch to colder water before conditioning. This will close the cuticle and make your hair appear smooth and shiny.

Apply conditioner starting at the midshaft and working towards the tips. These are the areas most commonly exposed to the elements.

Rinse again, and dry with your preferred method.

Did you learn anything new from this post? Let me know in the comments!

Are You Washing Your Hair Correctly? - The Southern Smiths: The correct, and incorrect ways of washing your hair.