Even childcare schedules can cause culture shock

After moving to another country, expat parents might discover that they have much more, or much less, time than they had anticipated.

Hello… and goodbye!

Global Connection consultant Ines Ahrens still remembers the day she dropped her daughter off to a creche in China. “The carers took her out of my hands at the door and said ‘thanks’. I realised that I was free to leave. As I made my way downstairs to the main entrance, I could hear my daughter crying the whole time. It was awful!” says Ines, who was reduced to tears outside. “I ended up being comforted by another expat mum.”

On the bright side

But, despite the trauma of day one, Ines’ daughter soon got used to saying goodbye to mum in the morning and spending half a day at the creche with her new friends. In turn, Ines was able to take on a part-time job. Of course, not every parent wants to spend time apart from their toddler. But daycare in China suited Ines. So much so, she actually got a shock when returning to her homeland.


That’s because in Germany, parents can’t just drop kids off at the door of a creche or kindergarten. They’re expected to come in and help ‘ease’ the child into the swing of things. At first the parent has to be present and the kid is only in class for two hours. “The whole process can take up to six weeks. This might come as a surprise to expat parents from Asia and other regions where full-time day care is readily available and where parents are not  expected to come inside,” says Ines.

Grand plans

“The bottom line is that for six whole weeks, a parent’s availability for other activities will be restricted. So, whether they plan to sign up for part-time or full-time studies, start a job-search or follow another path, they will have to be patient,” says Ines, who believes it’s common for parents to be unaware of differences in childcare schedules when moving to another country (or when repatriating). “Going back to Germany, it felt like I barely had time to get my groceries!” When moving to China, by comparison, Ines had plenty of time. Ultimately, the point is that going in both directions, she received a shock and had to adjust.

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