WeChat groups are a vital resource for Beijing’s international community, not only providing information, but bringing together people with shared interests. Each week we’ll be highlighting a thriving group chat, so whether you’re new to town or just looking to expand your networks, you can find your people.
Chef, writer and woman-about-town Pauline van Hasselt will be a familiar face to readers of beijingkids, having written for us until very recently. Van Hasselt has always been a mover and shaker in this city, and a passionate advocate for the needs of moms, so it’s no surprise to find that she runs a lively WeChat group, the Beijing Mothers’ Guild (not to be confused with the Beijing Guild, the long-running knitting and handicraft group we featured previously). We asked her to tell us more about it.
Tell us about yourself, and how you came to be admin of this group.
The Beijing Mother’s Guild (BMG) was created on a sunny day when Kaci and I decided to leave our kids at home and come down to the compound with two glasses and a bottle of wine. I told Kaci about a blog I wrote called “Mother’s Guilt“. Kaci understood “Mothers Guild” instead, and asked me how she could be part of this “Guild”…
The joke was not lost on us, and Beijing Mothers Guild was born. We felt a need to have some time for ourselves on the compound without kids around. A trend was born and we decided to branch out, organizing gatherings with drinks with more mothers in more places than just our residential compound. Kaci has since moved back to the USA, but she remains my partner in crime and the better half of the original Beijing Mothers Guild.
BMG is not about drinking wine: it is an unofficial organization that gives each mother a chance to be herself for a bit. BMG gatherings are organized in many places: on my couch at home watching Suits, at the hair salon reading a juicy magazine, or at one of the mothers’ favorite restaurant with all the mommy friends. BMG is about filling up your happy cup, after which you can return to the demanding chores as a mother and wife.
BMG is a space without an actual address, a space for mothers who need time to reflect, relax and recharge. BMG is a space where mothers can vent, laugh, cry and be honest. BMG is a state of mind. But most importantly, BMG is about not feeling guilty about the time a mother spends on herself.
I have discovered firsthand what can happen if I don’t take care of myself after becoming a mother. I am a survivor of severe postnatal depression. But the day my friends and I created BMG, something changed in me: the guilt got a bit less, and I realized taking care of oneself first benefits everyone – it is a duty. By taking care of herself on a personal level, allowing herself time to breath, time to have fun, time to laugh and enjoy life, a mother becomes better at taking care of her family.
Who’s in the group and what do you talk about?
Cool international mothers in Beijing have joined the group, and we mainly talk about momstuff and fun things to do.
Do you meet in real life?
Yes. Sometimes we meet at restaurants, or organize events like our “Bad Moms” movie night at Ramo. My biggest pride is connecting women. I connected two of my dear friends, and they are supermoms who have connected on a deeper level and are really best friends in Beijing. They met at a Beijing Mothers Guild dinner. If you are a mother in Beijing looking for a laugh, an ear, a drink or a shoulder, come and join us, to feel a bit less guilt and a bit more Guild.
To join Beijing Womens Guild, add ID: paulus155 on WeChat.
Photos: courtesy of Pauline van Hasselt