How has it been living in such close proximity for almost a month?
Not as bad as I feared, but not as great as it could be, but we’ll get there.
The kids have been awesome considering they have no space. Neither do Nat and I for that matter. In fact the kids have more space than we do, and we did that for self preservation reasons. There were a few scratchy days where they complained they didn’t have any space, so I created them their own cubby holes. Lennox in the pantry in the kitchen, and Alpha took the laundry cupboard. They don’t use their space very often, I think just knowing it’s there has helped them be more tolerant of each other. There hasn’t been as much fighting with each other as I expected. I think they realise they really only have each other so they need to rely on each other for fun, and to escape ranting parents. Ahem.
So yes, we’ve been on their case a lot because we’re trying to get across the fact that they need to fit in with locals. Kids are quiet here, so they need to follow suit. It’s a great lesson about reading social norms and body language. They’re not great with that (to be expected) so we’re speeding up the learning process. I feel to be good citizens of the world means being able to look around you, absorb what others are doing and follow suit (without losing your particular viewpoint/personality). It’s easier to be welcomed if you’re not pissing people off! So when the kids are stomping on the floor, yelling and fighting, listening to their stories really loud… well that’s not helping. We’re on their case a lot and that drives them crazy, which means lots of snipping and “whatever’s”, stomping and not listening to us. So the fighting is mainly between the kids and us.
What about Nat and I? We have our moments. It’s not easy. We’re around each other every second of the day. Well it feels like it most days. We do try and give the other a break when we can. For example, whoever is working in the afternoon gets an hour or two of quiet when the non-working parent takes the kids out to get food or the playground. Nat has also taken to washing the dishes by hand most nights (he started doing this in Blenheim) while listening to a podcast with headphones on. For me, I go for a walk or workout in the morning. I need it. I’m grumpy when I don’t get my space. VERY GRUMPY! I haven’t had a lot of space lately, so you can read between the lines on that one. I need to figure out how to get more space. Not quite sure how that’s going to work.
So how are Nat and I with the business? On that front we’re doing ok I reckon. We’re working on the same projects and try and jump in and help each other where we can. To be honest we need a few more different projects under our belt before I can really make a call on that one. I’ll have to update more on this one as time goes by. Right now on the business/money side of things, we’re still in the ‘free pass zone’. This is the period where the rent is already paid for (paid a few months ago) so it’s not too taxing. When money becomes an issue, that’s when things are going to get interesting. This is likely to happen sooner rather than later. We’re not broke, but the amount we spend on food, is eye watering and Latvia is a cheap country! This is not new to me, and something I need to figure out. Gluten free is not cheap and we eat a lot so that combo is not a good one.
What’s great are the kids are helping out more around the house (sometimes happily, mostly begrudgingly). I have a list of things they need to do each day before they can listen to audio books:
- Finish School work
- Go for a walk
- Make/create/build something
- Play with sibling
- Tidy up and then ask Nat or I for another job to do (dishes, washing, sweeping, rubbish etc).
So everyday (in theory) the kids are tidying up and doing something if they want to listen to books.
On the keeping the house tidy front, our place is small (good precursor to tiny living), and when we dump our stuff in the dumping grounds, I lose it. I really don’t like piles (cord piles especially) so that happens frequently. I also seem to take over the chores when things aren’t flowing and that means I get grumpy. I know it’s a lot to ask, but my dream has always been if you see something that needs to be cleaned/put away/dealt with, to just do it! I don’t want to dictate what needs to be done, or assign chores, I just want house dwellers to SEE the issue and deal with it. This particular dream of mine rears it’s head from time to time, it seems these travels have brought it top of mind again.
Nat and I have got into a rhythm when it comes to making dinner/clean up though. Whoever is not working in the afternoon makes dinner and the other one cleans up. That works pretty well. But sometimes I get grumpy doing that too, especially if the house is driving me batty and no one ‘sees’ the things that need to be dealt with.
It would be great if we had friends around, or people to hang out with, I think that would make us all more relaxed, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world. You don’t go up to a random Latvian and say “hey lets get a drink and chat.” You don’t look people in the eye, you do not smile, you do not ask a question unless you’re buying something. I have no idea how a foreigner would actually make friends here unless you are introduced by a mutual friend. Our hosts are nice to talk to, but they have young kids and multiple businesses so chatting with them isn’t all that easy. Plus we never see them. The people we see around where we live, just scatter as soon as they see us… hmmm? Another good reason to actually do some Skyping with people.I know, I know, we’ll get there.
So overall we’re doing much better than I thought we would be. I’m sure I need to work on my communication and ask for what I want (‘space’ and magically things being cleaned up). So I guess Plan B is figuring out what I need most of all and focusing getting that. I know I need to get up early again, I miss the early mornings. However, this house is tiny, with no doors. Nat and I are sleeping in the living room on the couch (like we did in Norway and most likely every other place). Which means when I get up and go to the toilet, everyone wakes up. If I try and open the door to go outside everyone knows, I can’t boil the jug without waking the house. I’m not sleeping all that well, since I’m not going to bed until late. It’s light for longer so harder to sleep. Since we have to make up the couch every night so if Nat is up, I don’t want to ‘send him to bed’ just because I want to sleep. We’re working on it.
We’ve been doing this less than a month, so there’s still time to figure it out.
Oh and we’ve been asked about UK exiting the EU, and the reaction here. Since we don’t have a TV and we listen to music only stations, the news we get isn’t local. So no idea. Plus everyone is still recovering from Ligo the other night so we haven’t heard too much. Also, if people did talk to us about it, we wouldn’t know what they’re saying.