For those of you who reside here in Spain, I’d like you to please sit back, close your eyes and relax just for a moment. No, I’m not about to demonstrate a meditation technique to help alleviate the stress of parenthood (although if anyone’s got one, please pass it on). I simply want you to take yourself back to when you first moved here. No, no, go back further, go back to the time when the idea to move abroad first began formulating in your mind.
Try to remember what it was you wanted out of your move. A bit of sun? A more relaxed lifestyle? Maybe a change of career? Adventure? We all have our own reasons and I’m sure plenty of stories to tell too, but on the whole it was most likely to make a few changes for the better, right? So, did the move live up to your expectations? I guess the majority of us have had to take the rough with the smooth, suffer a few hardships along the way, go through a period of adjustment. But all in all it’s not too bad, right?
Now I’m sorry but I’m going to have a little rant here. Why the hell is that that we all start complaining about EVERYTHING once kids come along? Crikey, it’s like someone pressed the negative switch and suddenly nothing in Spain is right, things are done so much better at home, blah blah blah blah blah…
So to re-strike the balance a little, I’ve compiled a list of how I personally think things are sometimes done a whole lot better in Spain:
1. The diet in Spain is 10 times better than that of the UK. Oh and did you know Spain ranked as the healthiest country in the EU in 2013? - http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2013/03/05/spain-is-healthiest-country-in-eu/.
2. OK so there’s not the same crazy quantity of kiddie specific activities and centres, but, is this really such a bad thing? What this actually means is that kids from a very early age get used to tagging along with their parents and just getting on with it. Of course I’m not talking about dragging the poor little mites around an exhibition of 18th century French art, but you can’t beat sitting in a plaza having a ‘relaxing cup of café con leche’ (sorry) watching your kid kick a football around with a bunch of other kids he’s just met.
3. Television is utter rubbish, which naturally forces us to be more social.
4. School hours. “Way too long!” I hear you cry. Really? Hang on a sec… Firstly, for working parents this isn’t so bad as we are able to work a few extra hours a week without the pressure of after school care. Secondly, well my boy is in P4 and I don’t see him coming out of school utterly exhausted. Rather, most days we head straight to the local plaza where he runs around like an excited puppy on speed for the next 2 hours until I reluctantly drag him home.
5. Spain works to a different rhythm and routine, meaning that days are generally longer. There’s none of this big rush to get home, fed, and bedded before 7pm. The afternoon lazily stretches into nightfall, dinner happens when it happens, and bedtime can be pretty flexible. This all adds up to us having a load more quality time with our kids, and what could be better than that?
7. There are a bunch of funny customs and weird traditions that baffle us foreigners and make us laugh. But laughing aside at least they have this strong link to their cultural heritage. Ever seen a teenager in the UK do morris dancing? No, me neither, but here they think nothing about doing the Sardana at the school fete. I like this, it puts a smile on my face. Saying that, I’m dreading the day my boy tells me he wants to try out Castellers….