Facebook moms groups (like any moms group, apparently) are a tricky thing. The mommy wars are in full swing in many of them which makes them a very dangerous—but also enticing—place. I’ve seen even relatively drama-free ones blow up over topics like baby-led weaning and toddler boy “aggression.” But drama or not, there is one population that I’m not sure can survive without them: expat moms.
About a week after we moved to Prague I was at the park with another mom who I’d met through—you guessed it—Facebook. She was also from the U.S. and had a little girl just a few months older than Luca. As we were chatting she told me that before moving to Prague she never used Facebook. That changed two years earlier when she and her husband moved to Prague. I immediately got it. Although I used Facebook before moving, it was mostly for keeping in touch with people and rarely as a source of information. That changed with the move. Now I had to make an effort to do what had previously seemed effortless, but I didn’t want to waste a lot of time. (I’m sure that last part made my husband chuckle.)
Enter Facebook. Type in your European city + expat or international + kids or moms or parents in the search bar and you will almost certainly come up with multiple groups that you can join to get your questions answered. And if your city is Prague, not only will the groups be numerous, most of the members will seem to have ample time for Facebook and even playdates.
The reason these groups are so important isn’t that they will give you ideas for how to raise your children. In fact, I’d say that chances are pretty high that the majority of people will not share your parenting philosophy or your beliefs about things like safety. But when it comes to getting your questions about everyday “survival” answered, they are a godsend.
My first week in Prague was full of random, but crucial, inquiries. Where can I buy low-lactose, organic formula? Where can I find baby swimming lessons in English? And, most important of all, where can I find laundry detergent that doesn’t stink??? (The answer to that last one is dm. Newly arrived in Prague? Here’s a tip: the answer is always dm.)
Although many of my questions seemed silly, finding the answers to them was extremely important to my transition. And it was kind of fun to show off my life-in-Prague knowledge to my husband who was stuck at work all day with lots of adult interaction but not enough adults who worried about the same things I did. (In all seriousness, it did help ease my transition and is partially responsible—along with google translate and grocery delivery services—for me never crying in Tesco.)
Given how important the expat mom community in Prague was to my transition to life there, it’s not surprising that when we decided to move to Oslo the first thing I did was search for expat parent groups here. There are a lot fewer and I haven’t found them quite as integral to my life for various reasons (such as my child being a little older and the fact that stay-at-home moms are pretty uncommon in Norway). But without them I would spend a lot more time fretting over things like whether parents in Norway really need waterproof pants. (Apparently, the answer is technically no, but most people find them useful. So off I go to buy an insanely expensive pair of pants I’ll wish I didn’t have to own.)
And, let’s be honest, when you are living far from home, joining a Facebook moms group or two from your country of origin can help when you crave a sense of normalcy. Sure, you might not actually have access to the products you need to implement their suggestions, but you’ll know how much space to leave in your suitcase on your next trip back.
Death to the Stock Photo (woman typing)
Studio Firma / Stocksy.com (woman on laptop)
Anyone else obsessed with Facebook moms groups? Are they mostly local to where you live or are the members somewhere else?