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25th Nov 2015

Mums abroad: 8 differences to raising family in California

Kate and husband Eoin moved their family from Dublin to San José, California in Summer 2014.

They have three kids Olivia (7), Clodagh (5), Conall (3) and another baby on the way! Kate and Eoin had always talked about moving over to California (where Kate’s parents live) to give life a try and it was a good time for them to move when they felt the kids would be young enough to adapt.

We chatted about the main differences between raising her growing brood in California in comparison to Dublin – the results are very interesting!

Kate's kids

1. You can’t beat Irish ham

The kids adjusted pretty quickly to the move, their main complaint was the heat and the food. Apparently American ham just does not live up to Irish ham!

2. There is no craic like the craic back home

People communicate in different ways here. There isn’t the same type of interactions you’d have with people back home. There is no craic or banter with people. It really surprised me how people seem to be in a hurry all the time to get somewhere so you don’t have the same leisurely conversations that you do back in Dublin when you meet someone on the street.

3. Despite the hype, Ireland doesn’t rank highest in terms of cost of living

The cost of living in Silicon Valley is very high compared to the cost of living in Dublin. We notice this most in relation to basics in the weekly shopping (how can avocados – a California-grown crop – be more expensive here?), as well as the cost of accommodation, childcare and the cost of health care.

4. Irish family favourites are hard to come by

“The kids miss Jacob’s cream crackers, Cadburys chocolates and all manner of Irish biscuits. I managed to find some rashers (if you could really call them that, they were quite pathetic) at the shop one day and was dismayed to pay $7.00 for them! We definitely miss Denny’s and Superquinn sausages. We were glad to find that Dubliner cheese and Kerrygold butter is easily available here.

5. Breastfeeding isn’t an issue

Breastfeeding is much more common here and attitudes towards it are generally more open from what I have observed. I’m not sure what the hospital support is like after birth.

6. I have the right to choose

I am happy with my pregnancy care here so far. One of my first questions to my OBGYN was about the delivery (this will be my 4th section) and I was assured that I will have the baby with me in the recovery room (which I wasn’t able to at the NMH Holles Street), I will have immediate skin to skin contact after delivery and I will be able to start breastfeeding as soon as possible in the recovery room.

They also give comprehensive screening here for genetic abnormalities (My other pregnancies weren’t over age 35 so I don’t know how this compares with Ireland). I have been offered a blood test at 11 weeks, the nuchal fold ultrasound and a later blood test and comprehensive scan at 19 weeks.

So I feel like if there were any issues you might potentially be able to detect them earlier. And of course a major difference is that if you needed to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy that is legal here in the United States. Knowing that I have the right to bodily autonomy is a big deal to me.

7. Ireland has a generally higher standard of education in kid’s schools

My children attend a public school and I am very happy with the quality of the education. Parents here seem to be very involved in the school community and it makes for a nice atmosphere. In saying that, my eldest attended a Gaelscoil in Dublin, which was a fantastic community to be a part of, so we definitely miss that school and the friends that we made there.
Eoin Parsons

8. Family time spent together is just as good – except now we do it in the sunshine

Our favourite thing to do is family time with the kids and that very much revolves around getting out and taking in the fresh air and having a picnic of some manner. This is pretty much the same as to when we lived in Dublin although we were definitely more bundled up in our winter gear. We really miss our adventures in places like St. Anne’s or the Botanic Gardens but are looking forward to discovering new favourites here!

We also caught up with Offaly mum Claire Barnwell who now lives with her family in Alicante. Read her story here!