Transitioning to parenthood can be challenging, especially as an expat, often someone removed from their “circle” or community. Not only is parenthood a huge change in general, no matter your location or home situation, but being away from family and friends can make it all the more difficult.
Personally, I survived my first pregnancy largely in isolation, meeting good friends individually and in small groups in appropriate situations. Even after returning to Beijing, I was more concerned with reconnecting with my “Beijing friends” than in meeting new friends who have more similar life situations as me. It didn’t matter to me that my friends here were mostly single, and all childless, because a part of me wanted to protect my old identity–the Jessica who was not pregnant or a “mommy”. It took me a while to grow out of this phase, and even as I dropped out of friend hangouts, ignored events, and even weeded out acquaintances, I slowly came to the realization that I should try making new friends with whom I could gush about kiddy stuff that I know my friends would tire of hearing.
With my second pregnancy, it became an urgent necessity for me, as there was no point continuing to live in denial. As soon as I felt up for it, I began to do research on how we can change our lifestyle to better suit our new family situation. After all, children also need socialization, and our son was reaching an age when he would benefit from playgroups and friends of his own–which he can’t have if mommy doesn’t have mommy friends.
I’m sure that most of you are not as stubborn as me, and probably do have your own circle of friends, associations, and organizations that you belong to, but we thought it would be helpful to round up a list of “groups” on WeChat so that you can burst out of your bubble, whether it’s by location or vocation, and “meet” other mommies in Beijing for support and care. I have learned a lot from the experienced mommies in these groups, and hope that you will as well!
1. Beijing Mommy Group
The Beijing Mommy Group is actually a WeChat group we had set up as a “starter”, invited all the mommies we knew, and let it grow organically from there. The group is for sharing news, local events, and for quick questions and answers. While it is moderated, the rules aren’t strict, and we try to keep it light with jokes, stories, and chats with the hope that mothers will truly make friends and form a community of support.
To join, add WeChat ID: kurikie
2. Beijing Women’s Network (BWN) – Pregnant Married Mothers (PMM)
Beijing Women’s Network (BWN) has their own sub-group, called Pregnant Married Mothers (PMM), which serves women working through pregnancy, marriage, and motherhood. The group shares inspirational stories about career women with families, and hosts separate dinners from the BWN to discuss relevant issues, reveal PMM needs, and identify the topics the community wants to grow into. Dinners will spotlight one of our members or invited guests. The individual hosting the dinner will lead the discussion by sharing their own experiences on the chosen topic.
To join, add WeChat ID: mariamski
3. Beijing Expat Entrepreneurs
The Beijing Expat Entrepreneurs is a WeChat group for mommies and other women who support each other emotionally and in practical ways. Members participate in sharing experiences, giving and asking for advice, tips, and information regarding small or medium businesses, such as Chinese law or how to start a business in China. Promotional material can be permitted with permission beforehand. The group meets once a month for coffee and to discuss a selected or suggested topic.
To join, add WeChat ID: perlitapengson
4. Mothers with Preschoolers (MOPS)
Mothers with Preschoolers (MOPS) is an international organization whose Beijing chapter is sponsored by Beijing International Christian Fellowship (BICF). The primary purpose of the WeChat group (there is more than one) is for meeting announcements, RSVPs, and other community based activities, but the group can also serve as a valuable resource for finding a new ayi, or other common queries. Members of the WeChat group are all members of MOPS, which requires in-person registration. This group is international and communicates in English, but MOPS also has bilingual and all-Chinese groups with separate meetups.
To join, add WeChat ID: kurikie (in absence of a WeChat ID)
5. La Leche League (LLL)
La Leche League (LLL) is an especially active WeChat community for pregnant and nursing mothers. The League has an annual membership fee to upkeep their meetings and brochures (RMB 300), but one can always join their WeChat group first and most of the time receive real time help for queries. The group shares meeting announcements (city and Shunyi locations), news about nursing, helpful website pages that answer common nursing issues, and can also be a platform for discussing other mothering techniques.
To join, add WeChat ID: averilht
If you own, or know of other mommy WeChat community groups, please comment below and we will add it to our listing! We also encourage all group owners to add their events to our event calendars.