Mother’s Day Special : The Expat Working Mum

Mother’s Day Special : The Expat Working Mum

In our special feature for Mother’s day this year, we decided to interview 5 women who moved from their home countries to Switzerland, they wear many hats during the day and continue to stand tall. Sometimes, it is important to recognize the extra ordinary in between the ordinary. I have spoken about my move to Switzerland and how the definition of motherhood has changed or rather evolved for me over the years on the blog as well as on my social media handles.

When we moved from India, I had decided to take the plunge and do a masters and straight after that I went back to my corporate job. In the last 1 year, a lot has happened – I have lived in between 2 cities, managed IT projects, the blog whilst doing the laundry and cooking my daughter’s favorite meal. A lot of people ask me how I do it, I really have no answers but I have so many examples of women doing so much, and more.

This article is my ode, to all mothers out there – “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother” – Abraham Lincoln.


Table of Contents

Kasia Butty

“Being my own boss, and having an amazing team allow me to follow a less traditional path of a working expat mom and I love it!”

My name is Kasia Butty and I’m from Poland. I decided to move to Switzerland eight years ago to join my, then boyfriend, now husband. Little did I know back then that I would eventually think of Geneva as home. Today I live here, and I’m blessed with a wonderful 10 month old daughter. Also, I lead a dynamic, creative and playful language learning center for kids : it’s called Spell Languages

How do you strike a balance between managing your career and your family?

One of my motivations when launching Spell Languages was my, back then, future child. Passionate about language acquisition, I wanted to provide my kid with linguistic conditions in which she’d be able to flourish, but also, as a mom, I wanted to spend as much time with my child as possible. Moreover, I dreamt of a work place where I could come with my baby and it would be considered normal. It took some time to set up, but today I finally am a mom and I feel extremely happy to have a flexible work schedule. Whenever I need to work, my daughter loves to go to “the office” with me. She has a wonderful play zone at her disposal there.

How do you find your “me time” and what do you do with it?

In my motherly nature, I remain extremely Eastern European. I want to seize every opportunity I have to spend with my baby and I enjoy it. If I do get to do something for myself, it’s an hour long, warm bath with some fruit, candles and relaxation music in the background. Other than that, just being around with my husband in the evening when she is asleeps or working calmly all by myself helps me feel relaxed.

How different/difficult is this from your home country?

The maternity break in Switzerland is shorter and women are expected to return back at a 100% once they finish their leave. The situation is a little bit more relaxed in Poland and women can maintain a healthy work life balance. I really admire the spirit of the mothers over here; especially in cases where they work full time.

If there is one tip that you could give to other women in similar situations, what would it be?

To all the expat women with dreams, I say : dream big and go for it. Also, remember that love and passion are heavily contagious. Had I not taken a plunge a few years back, I wouldn’t live my dream maternity situation today… Dreaming works : this is what my mom taught me and this is what I want my daughter to know too.


Catalina Escalante

“I believe in myself and keep looking ahead.”

My name is Catalina Escalante and I am originally from Colombia. I have lived in Canada, the US (San Diego & Boston) and for the past 9 months I have been in Basel, Switzerland. My husband and our 2 beautiful daughters ( 7yr and 5yrs) moved to Basel for my job with Bio-Rad.

How do you strike a balance between managing your career and your family?

This is a constant juggle. I think the key is in quality and not the quantity of time spent. I try to be present 100% when I am with my family and give 100% of myself when am at work. Also key to succeeding at both is the support and strength I get from my husband.

How do you find your “me time” and what do you do with it?

I see “me time” as being relaxed and doing something nice for myself. I often describe my job as a circus juggler: always having multiple balls in the air and making sure none falls to the floor. As a working mom and wife this also translates to my personal life. I know myself,  and what I need, and I make it happen. Whether it is making a spa appointment for myself, getting a massage here or there, going to the gym, shopping or having a rare quiet moment at night or just in the tram.

How different/difficult is this from your home country?

In many ways Colombia is very different from Switzerland but in other ways they are similar. Colombia is beautiful, crowded, dirty, loud, colorful and like with any big country – dangerous. Switzerland is also beautiful but can feel empty compared to a big metropolis. Even though there are not many people in Switzerland, there is a lot of diversity as there are ex- pats from all around the world.

How does your family contribute to your career and your success?

My husband is my rock, my right hand and my advisor. I am successful first because my parents believed in me and gave me the best present a parent can give a child: education, education, education. Second, my husband has guided me all along and has supported me and our family through this journey.

If there is one tip that you could give to other women in similar situations, what would it be?

Be strong, know your self worth and your strengths. It is important to know what you want, don’t be afraid to go get it and always think about your next 3 moves in life.


Annahita de la Mare

“We have two daughters together who are 5 and nearly 7 years old and if you ask them where they are from, they look at you very confused! “

My name is Annahita de la Mare and I am a children’s book author. I grew up in the south of England, but my mother is from Iran and my father is from Wales. I moved to Switzerland 11 years ago because I met my husband through work, and he was living in Zurich then. He’s actually German and his parents are Czech.

How do you strike a balance between managing your career and your family?

It’s VERY tricky. On the one hand, as an author, I mostly work from home (unless there are specific events) so most of the time I make things work around my children’s school hours. As soon as they leave in the morning I sit at my computer and I pretty much stay there until 5 minutes before they walk through the door for lunch when I almost panic at them going hungry! They are at a good age where they play with each other and I keep squeezing in time for the family and my writing.

How do you find your “me time” and what do you do with it?

Given my working schedule, I don’t have a LOT of “me time”. But since I am doing what I am incredibly passionate about, this itself is my me time. Although, I do understand the importance of me time, I often go out to dinner with friends and attend the monthly book club which is an evening I thoroughly enjoy.

How different/difficult is this from your home country?

This is a really difficult question! Culturally there are a lot of similarities between Switzerland and the UK, there is a level of politeness that I find very similar between the two countries. But they are also clear cultural differences. The outdoors are much easier, we live a very different life here in comparison.

How does your family contribute to your career and your success?

My children are my biggest critics. Children are generally VERY honest, and this is GREAT for me, because I can read to them my stories as I write them, and they can tell me immediately from a child’s perspective if they are any good! Since writing is not the most lucrative profession (factoring in the illustrator costs and self publishing) – it’s going to take many years to break even. I write not just because am passionate about it, but also because I want to represent reality and churn out strong, diverse and inspiring characters. I would not be able to do all this if it wasn’t for the financial support of my husband’s job.

If there is one tip that you could give to other women in similar situations, what would it be?

I worked as a management consultant before I started working on my own, and I loved it. But after my children were born, I spent 5 whole years just raising them – and that was hard work, real hard work (let no one ever let you think otherwise). It was after this that I took a leap of faith and decided to follow my passion and have a balanced life. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t but it has been very fulfilling. (Finally my parents understand what I do, hehe)


Ilona Emanuelsson

My name is Ilona Emanuelsson, I’m Eastern European or the ScandiBaltic as they call it right now. I grew up in a small beach resort and Spa town called Palanga on the Baltic Coast.

How do you strike a balance between managing your career and your family?

It’s been tough, there is always this feeling of guilt of neglecting one part or the other. Fortunately, my business partners are also mothers, so there is a mutual understanding amongst us since for me family always comes first. I usually go with the flow, allowing my business to grow organically and do not overstretch my boundaries.

How do you find your “me time” and what do you do with it?

It took long to find “me time”…almost about 5 years after my youngest was born. I realized that I needed to make some lifestyle changes for my personal/spiritual growth and enrolled into a yoga teacher’s training. This became purely my time, and helped me remain grounded and allowed me to rediscover myself.

How different/difficult is this from your home country?

It’s all very different between the two countries, however, I am very used to this as I left my home country 20 years ago and I have always embraced new experiences. I call Switzerland home, and I no longer feel homesick. Frankly, I do not see myself living in Lithuania now, but like they say, “never say never”

How does your family contribute to your career and your success?

I get all my inspiration from my family. I feel extremely fortunate to have healthy children and a supportive husband who is himself an entrepreneur. My kids are understanding and are huge help since I mostly work out of home. My daughter has started to show interest in beauty products and client trainings, so it’s fun to have her around.

If there is one tip that you could give to other women in similar situations, what would it be?

Go with the flow. Have fun with what you do, it’s not about the money (since that will come eventually). Remain consistent and schedule in time for yourself.


Sunita Kour

“There is no shortcut in life and no easy money, so never loose heart. Always plan things in detail and remain patient. “

My name is Sunita Kour and I run a couple of cafes and salons which are based out of India, (@techiestime2tea @techiestimetotea @bistrologix @glamzasalon are my insta handles) remotely from Switzerland. I am mother of a 4.5 year old toddler boy who is always on the go and has a lot of energy.

How do you strike a balance between managing your career and your family?

I don’t believe in work life balance, I am usually awake till 2-3 AM every night to make sure I am completing all my deliverables. The time difference between the 2 countries adds to my complexity, however, since I am very passionate about my ventures – I always do it with a smile on my face.

How do you find your “me time” and what do you do with it?

For me, my “me time” is quite simple – sipping a hot cup of my “special tea” in silence refreshes me to a great extent.

How different/difficult is this from your home country?

I miss my home country quite a bit, cuz of family and close friends. I would never go to bed hungry in India, but here due to work pressures this happens a lot. But I also do enjoy a different lifestyle here – staying out for longer hours and meeting new people. It’s a mixed bag.

How does your family contribute to your career and your success?

My mom and my husband have been my rocks, they support me no matter where my decisions might take me. Their constant belief in me keeps me going.

If there is one tip that you could give to other women in similar situations, what would it be?

There is no shortcut in life and no easy money, so never loose heart. Always plan things in detail and remain patient.


I really hope you liked our mother’s day special. If you did, we’d love it if you would share it and do leave us a comment below.

Lastly a big thanks to the wonderful ladies who participated in this initiative, I loved reading and sharing their stories. Each of them, so different but so similar at the same time.

Happy Mother’s day!

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