Why We Moved Our Family to Mexico for One Year

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It was a Monday afternoon, my husband and I were in the kitchen watching an episode of House Hunters International, we turned to look at each other and our eyes said it all, at that moment we decided to grab our children and go on an adventure.

From the moment we knew we were going to be parents, my husband and I knew that our children would be bilingual. But at that time we did not imagine how challenging it would be to live and nurture our children in a multicultural and bilingual environment.

The language that my children learned first was Spanish, obviously, as they were with me all the time, little by little we started using the  OPOL method by chance, everything was fine until my oldest son started school and decided he did not want to speak Spanish anymore. When my second child made his appearance, the favorite language to communicate between them was English.

I didn’t stop reading to them in Spanish, putting music in Spanish and introducing Spanish to them as it presented in our lives, however, despite my efforts, English was winning.

When my husband and I decided to launch into the adventure of living in another country for a few months, we did not hesitate, we decided to go to Mexico. I left my country in 2001 and had gone back to visit only for short periods of time, the idea of living with family, enjoy the food and immerse my children in Spanish was very tempting, so we opened our arms to the world and sent out our desire…

After nearly eight months in Mexico these are three things I have learned from this experience:

Every child is different: a relative of ours and bilingual educator as well said “in five months your kids will level with other children their age and in their grade.” Yes and no, my oldest son started speaking Spanish in only five weeks! It took my younger son 5 months.

You have to be patient and then more patient: My kids were happy the first week, when they saw family, enjoyed the delicious food (and pastries) and immersed in their new surroundings. The second week was more difficult, let alone the third, when they realized they would not return to California for a while, their reaction made me doubt our decision for a moment. Listening to Spanish all day long was tiring and they felt pushed aside, not understanding what was happening around them. But nothing lasts forever, and our patience paid off.

If opportunity knocks at your door, take it: I remember that when we shared our plans with my mom she told us, “Silvia, have you thought this through?” To which I replied “Of course not, Mom! If we think it through, we’d never do it. “And this is what I like to share the most. Sometimes you have to be courageous and take a leap of faith. If not, how would you know what will happen?

We also felt fear, doubt and uncertainty, and now that we’re only a few weeks from going back to California, all these feelings seem unfounded. This experience has given our children unbelievable memories, allowed them to experience first-hand their Latino heritage, their culture, their roots. They’ve eatenpan dulce, ice cream, tacos, tostadas, fresh orange juice, quesadillas with salsa verde to the max. This experience has made them feel they are part of a Mexican family, has exposed them to a lifestyle very different from the United States, but most of all, it has made them 100% bilingual. Every time I hear their beautiful voices speak to me in Spanish, my heart swells with pride.

¡Lo logramos!

{Photo by schlaeger}

Silvia Martinez is founder of award-winning Mamalatinatips.com, a Spanish-English bilingual blog, where she writes about kids, health, fashion, beauty, Disney and yummy Mexican food. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Disneylandiaaldia.com, the first Spanish-language blog in the United States covering the Disneyland Resort. Mom to two rambunctious, bilingual boys, Silvia’s recent adventures include taking close-ups of piñata smashing, photographing tostadas before they go soggy, celebrating Dia de Muertos in Mexico, and riding Toy Story Mania at Disney’s California Adventure…nine times in-a-row!


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