All parents rely on technology these days, but none so much as the expat mum. The smartphone isn’t just useful, it’s indispensable –as a tool for parenting, working and keeping in touch. Whether it’s sending the nanny a link to a YouTube video to encourage the baby to eat, or remotely delegating tasks to my employees while I take the little one to the doctor, here’s why I think technology is vital for expat mums...
Community support from Facebook mother’s groups
Even in the digital age, it takes a village to raise a child. Facebook mother’s groups have been my go-to forum since before my little girl was born. Ten months in, and I’m only just reaching a point where I’m confident enough to help fellow new mothers with pieces of advice. A majority of the members on these groups are expats themselves. That additionally contributes to the strong sense of community. We’ll occasionally meet up with our tots over breakfast and coffee (although as a working mum, I frequently have to forsake these for client meetings…).
Coffee table catch ups with the family through video calling
One of the most challenging aspects of expat parenthood is the distance from friends and family back home. A handful of flights home every year is my family’s best attempt at nipping round for a cup of tea on a Sunday.
But I’m big on family bonding and don’t want my folks back home to miss out on my baby’s major milestones. Video calling enables us to bridge the geographic gap. What was once my parents ringing in to catch up with me has become all about spending quality time with their granddaughter, even if it is through a screen.
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The power of remote delegation via email and voice messages
Gone are the days of leaving a meticulous to-do list taped to the fridge. While you’re sure to catch the occasional sticky note somewhere around my house and office, the smartphone is a much more efficient tool. When you’re a working mum, time truly is money. I’m shooting off emails when getting my hair done and recording WhatsApp audio messages when twiddling my thumbs at a traffic signal. It also helps keep my head above the water on particularly hectic days. Instead of waiting to get to the office, I quite often send off a brief via WhatsApp, and the task tends to be halfway done by the time I walk in! Like all mums, multi-tasking is my superpower, and technology makes me even better at it.
Google to the rescue for midnight medical consultations
When you’re a new mother, you’re flooded with tips and advice. You’re told to eat a protein-rich diet, swaddle your baby the Japanese way, and not exert yourself at the gym. What you’re not told is to steer clear of the internet after dinnertime. This is one areas where tech is definitely a double-edged sword, since WebMD and its search-engine siblings are as tempting yet damaging as eating carbs after sunset. My little girl’s got a medical condition that I’ve Googled the daylights out of. While there’s no doubt that these websites certainly make you more informed, we’re all familiar with the slippery slope of over-diagnosing a simple symptom on the internet, and more reasons to stress and worry is something mums do not need... The secret is to remember that doctors are human beings with heaps of experience and education and the internet is just a bunch of zeros and ones. At least, it helps me sleep at night!
Documenting everyday achievements via WhatsApp
You could sit on the couch staring at your baby all day and she won’t do anything noteworthy. Step out, even for a fraction of a second, and she’s grown her first tooth, bought her first house, and graduated with honors. Okay, I may have exaggerated.
Helicopter parenting isn’t my style, especially when I’ve got a company to run as well. I’m fortunate to have the support of a reliable nanny who keeps me in the loop with every development, big or small, that my little girl makes on a daily basis. In this way my phone lets me be working mum, without feeling like I’m missing out on my daughter’s milestones. One of the most interesting developments she’s recently made is learning how to pose for the camera. Guess that’s a cool evolutionary quirk of her generation!
Rosa Bullock is founder of Sociate PR, marketing and events company.
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