The Secret to Being Happy: Be Available

See how you can really fit everyone in.

by Anna Dixon | Wed, February 28, 2018

Does anyone else feel pretty guilty quite a lot of the time? Yeah. Us too. Between juggling work, family, your partner, your children, your friends, and valuable “you” time, it can feel a lot like you’re always letting someone down. Of course, you can’t always be around for everyone, all of the time, but with a bit of clever organization, you can balance your lives in a way that is fulfilling and benefits everyone in it.

We all get a different kind of happiness from the different people in our lives. Our children bring us pure and complete joy, our partners make us whole, our friends make us laugh and act like our silliest self, our parents bring us safety and comfort, and our siblings, a sense of nostalgia. All of these feelings combine to a full and happy heart, so let’s see what we can do to  fit everyone in.

Make dates and stick to them

Making dates is key to seeing everyone in your life. If you don’t lock it in, chances are you’ll go weeks or months without spending some quality time with important people.

This includes dates with your children, especially if you have more than one. A lot of our time is spent as a family, which of course is wonderful, but take your kids out on their own, grab a milkshake, go shopping, play games or go to the arcade. Make sure they know you want to hang out with them on their own as well as with their siblings. It’ll make the feel super special, and it’s a great time to ask how things are going in their life without distractions or interruptions.

Don't underestimate the importance of friends

Friendship

As expats, we don’t get to see our families as much as we would like. We’ve moved thousands of miles away and started our own family and our support network is different than it would be back home – our friends are our family here, so treat them like it. Host Sunday dinners, take trips away, do brunches, grab a glass of wine, take a stroll around the city, anything that means you get some decent face time with your self-made urban family.

Update the folks back home

Biking

Although a lot of us moan about social media – updates from people we haven’t seen in years and so on – it’s easily the best way to update lots of people in your life all at once. Update your status. Post a photo of the family. Let people know what your expat life is like.

Be regular

Date Night

If you have the time, try and slot in a weekly something with your bff. Schedule a Tuesday evening game of racquet-ball or a coffee at your favorite little café.

This rule also absolutely applies to date night with your significant other. They’re usually the ones who get easily forgotten and taken for granted because you sleep next to them every night. How often does the following happen to you? You scarf down dinner, mindlessly choose a movie when the kids are in bed, sleep on the couch, then drag your sorry butt to bed. That’s fine, and totally normal and inevitable, but once in a while, everyone needs a bit of a change, and a decent meal with a nice bottle of red. 

Once a month, make it your mission to try and new restaurant and a new dish you’ve never eaten before. Call the sitter, throw on your best threads, and make some time for yourselves. Don’t rush it either – go for a cocktail or two  first – you probably have a lot to catch up on!

Learn to say no

Reading with Child

Some of us here have very demanding jobs, and it’s often the case that we get bogged down and consumed in the world of work. There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to your career, but try and say no to working late at least once a week. Surprise the family, give the kids a bath, help them with homework, eat dinner together. Your children are only young once, and your job won’t be taken from you if you leave a little early once in a while.