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children, family life, humour, Switzerland

Reasons to be cheerful

According to researchers this week I have two reasons to be miserable.

First, a study in the US found that stay-at-home Mums are more likely to be worried and depressed than working mothers. Of course, if those chirpy employed ‘Moms’ saw the price of Swiss childcare they wouldn’t be laughing, but that’s another story.

I’m quite surprised it needed a Gallup poll to convince the world that motherhood is tough and prone to get you down. Imagine, if you would, the job ad:

Wanted: Mother (full-time).

Hours: 6am-8pm Monday to Friday. And Saturday. Oh, and Sunday. Also on call 8.01pm-5.59am.

Experience of the following roles may be useful: health and safety monitor, cleaner, hygienist, chef, teacher, moral and spiritual guide, counsellor, referee, bouncer, amateur paediatrician, chauffeur, jailor, play mate, party planner, human trampoline, artist in residence, amateur veterinarian (with special interest in gerbils and degus) and general slave.

Salary: none

Leave: none

Job share: possible (but unlikely).

Of course, the alternative is to go and get a job to pay for the childcare you need to get a job. No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either so I’m not going to bother, even though Gallup tells me I would be 7% less worried and 11% less depressed if I were employed.

Stuck at home in isolation; no-one to talk to – at least, no-one who understands a word you’re saying; struggling to accept your dependent status after giving up your job… no, no, I’ve moved on from life with a new baby, I’m talking now about being an expat wife in Zürich – that’s also fit to make you depressed, according to the second report I read this week.

The city’s Integration Service wants to provide counsellors for trailing spouses (as we’re charmingly known) to help them through those miserable early months when you arrive in a new place, don’t know a soul, wave your husband off to the office…

…and then try to go to supermarket but get on the bus in the wrong direction, can’t work out how to buy a ticket, don’t realise the supermarket doesn’t take credit cards, can’t find the bags, can’t make anyone understand you because your phrase book didn’t cover this cr*p…

…get shouted at by an old Swiss lady for no apparent reason, shout back until you work out that she’s just showing you where the bags are and her ‘aggression’ is actually just ‘German’…

…and go home feeling depressed because at home you were a brain surgeon and here you can’t even go to the damn supermarket.

So, yes, new Mums and new Expats probably do need help. Maybe from a psychologist or maybe just a tour guide for their strange new world.

About jofurniss

I'm a writer, living by the jungle in Singapore.


18 thoughts on “Reasons to be cheerful

  1. I saw that study too. For me, an ideal situation is to do a bit part-time work (paid or voluntary). Some sort of way to care for my child but still be able to do some sort of work that’s not child-related.

    Posted by Sleeping Mom @ Sleeping Should Be Easy | May 31, 2012, 9:00 pm
    • Me too – I wonder why we need to have something aside from the kids – after all, there’s enough work and stress and pressure right there… Mental stimulation? Status? Something to talk about that doesn’t involve bodily functions?

      Posted by jofurniss | May 31, 2012, 10:05 pm
      • Cooking can be not child related, although my kids always want to help ;-)…….Status what do you mean Jo? There is no such thing in Switzerland!

        Posted by Fergus Miller | May 31, 2012, 10:16 pm
  2. good one. keep blogging. it will help to keep your sanity. we love reading along with your struggles.

    Posted by momentsinminutiae | May 30, 2012, 1:14 pm
  3. Just out of curiosity…what is a degus?

    Anyway, I can recall when I finally took a job that had me back in the public again when the girls were very small. I remember when my manager took ill and had some colon issue that had her….well,…it was her colon, you can imagine. I had been SO un-climatized to talking to people outside of the pediatrician and yelling back at Blues Clues that I just starting talking about her “what was happening as a result of her colon issue” to some of our friends at a office party. Apparently this wasn’t appropriate. It was a glaring reminder that I wasn’t used to life on “the outside” and I needed to mind myself a little closer. No one else, but me, however, seemed to understand.

    I can only imagine how hard your integration must be…a dear friend of mine was blessed with an opportunity to work for Georgetown University creating training programs within their leadership division…in Qatar! Imagine going from a total Western upbringing and lifestyle into your mid 60’s then moving to the middle east completely cold turkey. Thankfully the place she is in is a total melting pot so some Muslim “rules and reg’s” are bent a bit to accommodate the whims and habits of the Expat population, however it is times like when she had to search 4 stores then pay what would have been $35 for 1 smallish bottle of a familiar laundry detergent, things get a bit wonky.

    I envy the journey you are both on, however I am also glad I cam meander pretty as you please down to my local grocery knowing that I don’t have to worry about where the bags are because the ever-so convenient baggers are there to worry about that for me.

    And finally, after hearing me grouse of months about the horrors of children growing up and older and not so cute anymore taking boyfriends with whom there had been a emotional/moral inner conflict with for months and telling their father before they tell you about it which makes no sense…..just know that you ARE getting paid. Petunia Pig and the like will be gone before you know it, and even though Petunia will never buy you a stick of gum….quite the opposite as I am sure she has a healthy line of merch for the kids to loose their minds over….it simply won’t matter when she is gone. I just finally released the last of my girls Disney DVD’s we had been holding onto. It was a bit of a moment.

    Good luck and much love, Mushroom!

    Posted by Vanessa (Wonder-V) Meadows | May 28, 2012, 9:18 pm
    • Ah, Wonder-V, the mysteries of the degu… I don’t really know either to be honest – yet another kind of domesticated rodent for children to abuse – but the name amuses me so I like to slip it into conversation.

      Posted by jofurniss | May 29, 2012, 4:10 pm
      • LOL…figured as much! It reminds me of a slang term that (thankfully) only withstood a few years in the 90’s which was “Dingus”. To call someone “Dingus” was to say that you aren’t that bright or quick on the uptake, and most likely stupid. Totally opposite from a “Degus” apparently, but it was enough to amuse me as well for a bit!

        Posted by Vanessa (Wonder-V) Meadows | May 29, 2012, 8:05 pm
  4. No salary, true. But I’m sure you’d agree the perks of the job are pretty rewarding.

    Posted by Lycra Mum | May 28, 2012, 7:50 pm
  5. Hi,
    You had me laughing, Jo!!!

    I also wanted to quick chime in a response to Fergus’ who mused, “Each to there own, but I just don’t understand why anyone should/would work to pay for childcare, as parents we should just do it ourselves, otherwise what is the point of being a parent or even having kid’s for that matter?”

    I work part time and I pay for child care (but we also have grandparent care in the mix too). Personally, I continue to work outside of the home because I enjoy the field of work that I’ve chosen. I put in a lot of hard work academically to get here. I enjoy the adult interaction. I enjoy having identities – coworker, employee, teacher – in addition to “Mom.” Provided that I still enjoyed my profession, I’m pretty sure that I would continue working even if I didn’t break even, which is admittedly a luxury of a two income family. Prior to kids, if I’d never found a job that does it for me, I’m sure I might be thinking differently. There’s also a part of me that considers the time when my kiddos are out of the home and I still have many working years ahead of me. At that time, I’d like to continue to work in a field of my choosing I suspect it will be easier to stay in my field if I don’t go out of it.

    But, as you said, Fergus, each to their own. I’ve know some pretty miserable and depressed mothers, well parents, on both sides of the spectrum.

    Posted by Rose | May 28, 2012, 1:24 pm
    • The reasons for and against going back to work are as many and varied as the circumstances that families find themselves in… If there was a ‘one size fits all’ solution, life would be too easy, heh?

      Posted by jofurniss | May 28, 2012, 6:46 pm
  6. Wowwee JO, what a cv – health and safety monitor, cleaner, hygienist, chef, teacher, moral and spiritual guide, counsellor, referee, bouncer, amateur paediatrician, chauffeur, jailor, play mate, party planner, human trampoline, artist in residence, amateur veterinarian (with special interest in gerbils and degus) and general slave!!! Who could feel down with all these amazing skills in the bag! Oh, and highly-skilled, insightful, amusing and uplifting writer/blogger/commentator/journalist must be added to that list:)

    Posted by Sarah Elliott | May 28, 2012, 12:54 pm
  7. Hi Jo,
    You are right about the Salary, but this stay at home “Mum” loves his Job!
    In Switzerland we have high wages & low taxes & that’s why child care here costs so much, kid’s start State funded Kindergarten at around 4 years of age & the system here is a bloody good one.
    Each to there own, but I just don’t understand why anyone should/would work to pay for childcare, as parents we should just do it ourselves, otherwise what is the point of being a parent or even having kid’s for that matter?

    Posted by Fergus Miller | May 28, 2012, 11:39 am
  8. Well at least you see things with a great sense of humour so I’m sure it’s not all that bad:-). The “Her aggression is just German” part made me laugh.

    Posted by Cécile | May 28, 2012, 11:38 am


  1. Pingback: More reasons to be cheerful « Glückspilz - May 29, 2012

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