Monday, October 18, 2010

Connecting with Other Expat Moms

It can be lonely living overseas. So whether you're single or married with or without kids, having friends when you live abroad is vitally important even though finding them can sometimes be hard.

I mentioned in my post Recovering from Small World Syndrome that I found it difficult to connect with other expat moms in Egypt.

Here is why I thought this was important:

Having friends who understand the struggles of being an expat mom in Egypt. The other moms I already know in Egypt have been a great encouragement over this past year, and I hoped to find more.

Socialization for my son. My son hasn't had a lot of interaction with other babies his age. So it would be nice for him to make some friends too.

Networking. There are a lot of activities available for babies around Cairo, but they are not always well advertised. Most of these places rely on word-of-mouth. So finding things to do with my son has been a bit of a struggle.

My difficulty in finding other expat moms has been mostly a logistical problem. Everyone I knew who was involved in moms groups and activities for babies lived about an hour away across town in Cairo.

And for months my efforts to meet other moms on my side of town (Heliopolis) didn't meet with much success.

My problem seemed to be that since I didn't already have a community of expat friends that it was even more difficult to find them now that I had a baby.

Now the good news is that in the past month I have joined not one but two moms groups on our side of town! One is a startup playgroup and the other is a moms' Bible study/book discussion group.

I'll let you know how things go.

So here are a few things I have learned so far during this process of trying to connect with other expat moms:

Don't give up. It has taken me nearly 4 months to finally find some other moms who want to meet together once a week for a playgroup in Heliopolis. That was longer than I expected it to take, but now I wish I had started earlier. Now my son is close to a year old so he's starting to get pretty active so playgroup time is basically me following him around the room while trying to have a conversation with another mom at the same time.

Ask. Any new meetings we went to where there were expats I asked if they knew of any moms getting together. I sent out emails to Yahoo email groups I had joined for foreign women living in Egypt asking if there was interest in starting a playgroup in Heliopolis. It took a while to generate any kind of response but the important thing was to start small and not to set my expectations too high.

Go to where moms go. Someone suggested that I visit a local nursery or daycare center to meet other moms. And this was my next step, at least before I was contacted by another mom who wanted to put together a playgroup.

Now I had considered walking up and introducing myself to complete strangers I saw in the mall with children around my son's age. But I wasn't quite ready for that kind of extreme measures... yet.

Be friendly. I am not that sort of outgoing person who finds a friend around every corner. But things are different now with a little one because he is always smiling at everyone and they're always smiling back. It definitely gets me out of my comfort zone... in a good way.

Let someone help you. I met one expat mom who ran a nursery in Heliopolis. She gave my contact info to another mom who was also looking to start a playgroup. This kind of networking is important in Egypt. So find one mom who is connected to other moms and ask them to help you. Even if they have older kids they might be able to help steer you in the right direction.

Stay connected to expat communities. Whether it's meeting other moms with babies around my son's age for playgroups, attending moms support groups, or just finding out about anything baby-related in Cairo, I never realized until now how important it was to stay plugged into the local expat communities until now.

The good news is that right now I have joined 2 groups for moms. One is a playgroup that meets once a week in different homes. The other is a mother's Bible study/book discussion group associated with the local international church that also meets weekly.

And just after only a couple of weeks, I can already feel myself relax. It is tough being an expat mom feeling like you're kind of out there on your own. So having other moms around to talk to face-to-face is definitely a great thing.

Because if there's one thing I know about being an expat, it's that the journey is much more fun when you have people to share it with.

I think that's probably true about being a mom as well.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I am an expat mom who would love to come to Heliopolis for playtime! Our office is near the Royal House and Meryland park, although we live near the Obour Carrefour.
    I emailed you last I hope it was the correct address and you can contact me that way.



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