Tips on Starting Your Own Mommy Group

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Ancient wisdom dictates that it takes a village to raise a child. I find it ironic that while technological advances are flattening the world, most urbanites could name ten Facebook friends they’ve never met in real-life before they could name a neighbour.

Research would suggest that the nuclear family is approaching minority status in countries such as the US. Last year in the UK, for the first time, more children were born out of wedlock than in. Indeed, fewer and fewer of us are raising families that resemble “Leave It To Beaver.” More and more of us are raising families far from the traditional support of grandparents, aunts and uncles. That’s where friends can play such a key role in helping a new mom get through those first days, weeks and months of motherhood.

Expecting Expats - Tips on Starting Your Own Mommy Group

But as great as your girlfriends are, you may find that you lose touch with the ones that don’t have kids. And your girlfriends with kids — well they’re busy with their kids too. Plus, friends have a way of respecting your personal space in a way that relatives don’t. “Yeah! What’s wrong with that?” I hear you asking. Believe it or not, most new moms will tell you that those first weeks postpartum are some of the loneliest times of their lives. It seems to be that there is this obsession today with having it all and and doing it all; all by yourself. When did needing help from another person become a sign of weakness? And this has trickled down into motherhood. Whereas in the past (say 2 generations ago), you were more likely to have had your immediate family (your extended family, your neighbours, your community) literally in your front yard, now you don’t. A generation ago, it was the norm to spend 5-7 days in hospital after a normal delivery. Today, women are routinely sent home with baby in 24-36 hours. How fast we’ve come from a village mentality to sending a woman home where she’s going to be alone for at least 18 hours out of every day caring for a new baby for the first time. Obviously I am not a doctor, but I can’t help but think that this has contributed in some way to the rise in postpartum depression.

People stop dropping by once you leave the hospital. You’re on maternity leave so colleagues won’t be inviting you out for drinks after work on Friday. In fact, most people will stop extending invitations to go/do anything because you’ll be declining all the time. Spontaneity doesn’t just fly out the window; it’s gonna leave a Godzilla sized hole in the wall.

So what if you’re an expecting expat in a new country?

That’s exactly the situation I found myself in 4 and a half years ago. Luckily for you and me, a group of intrepid women found themselves in that very same predicament some 30 years ago right here in Bangkok. Together they founded BAMBI (Bangkok Mothers and Babies International). As their motto says, “Support and friendship through the common bond of motherhood.” Whether it’s finding a ‘buddy’ in your area, buying some second hand baby gear or looking for a nanny, this website should be your first port of call.

Who knew a playgroup could change your life?

I was living in the Ari neighbourhood at the time. It’s a great neighbourhood and I loved living there. However, all the mommy and baby groups seemed to be centered around the Sukhumvit or Silom areas. One day, out of the blue, I got an email from a stranger that would change my life. She was a BAMBI volunteer who lived in the area. She noticed one day, while looking at the member database, that there were actually at least a dozen members living in Ari. She sent out a blanket email asking if anyone would be interested in starting a casual playgroup. As the legend goes (at least when I tell it), she received 8 replies within the hour all saying, “YES!” I would say that about 2 weeks later, the unofficial Ari playgroup held their first meeting in a local coffee shop.

While friends passed into and out of our lives, at any given time our little community included about a dozen moms who met every Thursday. We took turns hosting at our homes. And when some of us eventually returned to work, playgroups were hosted in our absence by dedicated nannies. Those nannies in turn became friends and it wasn’t uncommon for them to get together with the kids for impromptu play-dates. It really was a wonderful open door policy that was created. Something I didn’t think happened anymore and certainly not in the big city. And it was truly a situation in which everyone benefited from (kids, moms, and nannies alike).

Together we celebrated “baby’s firsts,” birthdays, job promotions and new births.Those ladies and their babies were an integral part of my first year of motherhood. For their kindness, their compassion and their friendship I will be eternally grateful. Sadly, all but a few of us have now moved on from Thailand or out of Ari. But that’s not just part of the expat experience; that’s a part of life.

I write all this today to tell you that for your own sanity, you need to find a way to create your own support network. Whether you join one of the established local groups, ask around in your apartment building or whether you accost strangers with infants and ladies with bumps in your local Villa (something we were known to do!); you need to be proactive. You need to build your own village.


Why I Wrote This Article:

Meeting Other Moms:

The First Get Together:

My name is Jodie. I'm a 38 year old Canadian working and living in Bangkok, Thailand. My husband and I are both international teachers - though I'm taking this year off to be a full-time mom.

When we're not busy with other people's kids, we try our hand at raising our own very curious nearly four year old son and his 9 and half month old brother. When it comes to parenting, like most of us, I’m making a lot of it up as I go along .

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