When I move again I will make friends and be popular by....

(32 Posts)
squashedandboshed Wed 10-Nov-10 14:19:21

meeting lots of people;

smiling all the time;

never mentioning how tired I feel, stressed with 2 children under 2 with no family support, do better at hiding my PND (the tablets help);

say nothing intellectually stimulating, never come across like I read a newspaper, know what is going on in the world (assuming you can manage a conversation that gets further than "how long have you lived here, what does your husband do, how many children have you got, what are their names, where did you move from");

go to coffee mornings a bl&&dy well look like I am enjoying the inane conversation;

(more seriously) not see people for the sake of the children being occupied and meet up with people because you enjoy their company

on a serious note - we are probably moving soon and now I feel I am getting through a difficult period with 2 very small children (though sleep and energy) do allude me - I do want to make some friends - I have lived where we are now for 2 yrs - big expat scene in europe and I have made no close friends, no one I enjoy being with (freely admit I have not been a barrel of laughs myself) - so any wise words please?

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Francagoestohollywood Wed 10-Nov-10 14:25:03

It sounds like you need a real friend, and I understand that, I had the same need when I moved to a different country than mine.

My advise would be: keep being friendly. Be yourself. If you have more "me time" find an activity you'd enjoy doing. Learn the language of your new country. Escape the expat bubble!

All the best smile

slim22 Wed 10-Nov-10 19:34:30

Very difficult with young children. Seems like you want part of your life back and that's still early days with 2 under 2 s. I felt exactly like you and you have to accept this is a year or 2 that will feel like a big blur in a few years time.

My first move with ds the 18 months was crushing and felt very lonely. There I was in this exciting place, totally unable to be part of the vibe.
I made it through that year by a strict routine of going to same playgroup 3 or 4times a week and ended up making a few friends there.
You have to accept these friendships revolve around your kids because at the moment your life is all about that.
Why don't you ask them out? You may find after a drink or two that they feel the same as you and Actually have a thing or two to say.

As kids grow, moving gets easier. They go to school and make friends so less maintenance and more time for you.

I think what you are describing is more related to lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion/boredom with your daily grind which is very common wherever you are when dc are so little.

squashedandboshed Wed 10-Nov-10 19:50:32

I agree entirely - real friends are very hard to come by. For me, baby/toddles groups and coffee mornings just do not work as a way of making friends. If you can sustain a conversation for more than 5 mins before one of you have to go to one of your children or you can hear yourself or concentrate on the conversation then you are doing better than I have. It lends itself to superficial conversations and if people don't regularly attend the same groups (and I am certainly guilty of not consistently attending stuff) - then you end up with lots of acquaintances and no friends.

What I have found really frustrating and indeed depressing is a lack of interest generally in anything of any substance. When I talked to one lady (who I had known quite a while) about my concerns about the type of environment my children would grow up in if we went back to the UK (over commercialised, growing up too fast) she looked at me as if I was a nutter and something wrong with me for having "deep" thoughts!

I need to get out on my own without the children and find stuff I enjoy and hope to meet people that way.

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squashedandboshed Wed 10-Nov-10 19:52:52

Hope I don't antagonise anyone too much by saying - it appears that the stepford wives or airheads seem the happiest here!

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Francagoestohollywood Wed 10-Nov-10 20:45:06

Squashed, I found toddlers groups really depressing, as I didn't particularly want to talk about small children all the time and other mothers seemed to take the parenting business a bit too seriously.

slim22 Wed 10-Nov-10 21:03:01

So what you are going to stay home and talk to no one at all rather than suffering bad company? Is that going to help feeling less isolated?


Francagoestohollywood Wed 10-Nov-10 21:07:38

I think the best move is to find an activity for yourself, where you could find remotely like minded people.

slim22 Wed 10-Nov-10 21:21:55

Thoroughly agree with Franca, if you have a sitter, do get out on your own.
When ds was very little,We used to get a babysitter for one weekday (me day) and for Saturday or Sunday (us day). Found money was best spent on that than aN evening out.
It's all very frustrating right now but it will be over soon. It's a just a year or 2 before they are off to school.

Missymoomum Thu 11-Nov-10 07:57:15

If you're a SAHM then it can be difficult to meet like minded people as these tend to be the people that you would find at work. I also agree that if toddler groups are not the way to go for you then you need to find an outside interest if it is possible for you with 2 small dc's. If not, then i think you will have to accept that perhaps toddler groups are the only avenue for the time being. Your children won't be that little forever and before you know it you'll have so much more time on your hands when they go to school. It's just one of those things that goes with having young children.
Personally, i have found toddler groups a godsend. I moved to my new country 6 weeks ago and these groups have enabled me to meet lots of new people quickly. Rather than just sticking to the once weekly toddler group, i have exchanged mobile numbers with people and we meet up at each other's houses or go down the park with our dc's. This has helped get to know these other mums much better and become friends. I'd much rather do this than sit at home as i think i'd go completely mad!! Oh and by the way i am in no way a stepford wife - far from it!!!

Francagoestohollywood Thu 11-Nov-10 13:47:48

IME, it was exactly when the children were pre schoolers that I needed friendly adults around the most!

You never know, you could find the friendliest toddlers group ever at your next destination.
Also, you could attend a course to learn the new language, where you could meet different people. And if you manage to learn the new language, you'll be able to chit chat with the natives too!

Francagoestohollywood Thu 11-Nov-10 13:48:29

(is natives the right word? English isn't, as you can see, my first language)

thumbwitch Fri 12-Nov-10 03:17:03

S&B - I'm afraid I had the opposite experience - all the friends I have made here have been from playgroup. Either mums there, or ladies who work with them. So don't rule it out as a possibility - when I started the first playgroup I went to, there was a large clique of mums - but also a couple of non-cliquey ones, and I spoke to them. The cliquers buggered off and went to a different place, the non-cliquers stayed and we have a lovely atmosphere and I have some good friends. The other playgroup is a church one, run by church ladies - so wouldn't suit everyone - but they are so lovely and not particularly pushy with their religion. Lots of non-religious mothers there too, and I have a nice group of friends there as well.

And we don't just talk about mumsy stuff - far from it! our conversations sometimes have to be moderated when little ears come within earshot. grin

I would say - don't wait for people to approach you. Go and talk to them, smile (as you said) and ask them about their DC.

I do realise I have been very lucky with the people I've met - but it might be because I'm in a provincial town rather than a big city. Not sure I would have fit in with some of the expats in Sydney, although the ones I've met via MN have been lovely!

Franca - yes, natives is the right word in that context.

ZZZenAgain Fri 12-Nov-10 07:28:35

a gymn with childcare facilities? What did me a lot ofgood when dd was small, was leaving her with dh one weekend morning and going to sport. It gave me energy forthe week and I was with people who were not child orientated. Could you imagine doing something like that? Maybe something like aerobic/dance-gymnastic type course? Or yog? (Not sure what there is where you are).

Playgroups/toddler groups vary so much because really they are the people who attend them. I went to one where I met the people who stayed my real close friends right through my stay. Went to another (mostly American) playgroup where I felt out of place. The people were nice and friendly but we had to do artwork each time (the mums, not he dc who were too small to do it) and I don't know, just bugged me all the faffing about... Look aroundat a few different ones if they are accessible to you.

I also met nice people when dd began kindergarten, in this case local mums and dads who I am still friends with (in theory since I live somewhere else now). My dd went to local (non English speaking kindergartens).

Two dc under 2 is always going to be hard though. In a couple of years, it will all be a whole lot easier.

Missymoomum Fri 12-Nov-10 07:32:06

Perhaps i've been lucky like you Thumbwitch but most of the mums that i have met through playgroups both in my new country and in the UK have been great. Yes you do talk about your DC's as initially that is what you have in common but they do also have more than 2 brain cells to rub together and are generally intelligent women when you make the effort to get to know them with professional careers. We're not all airheads and can read lol!!!!

natation Fri 12-Nov-10 17:56:02

Squashedandboshed, where are you moving to? If it's Belgium, it shouldn't be difficult to find a niche of friends. My 2 best friends here are Belgian, I love them enough to want to keep the family here as long as possible, one has become replacement family for me and her parents are virtually grandparents to our younger children. I think it's just a case of finding somewhere you feel comfortable in, then you're more confident at making friends. My 2 best friends are staff at our girls' school, most other friends are parents of children at the same school and the rest are friends made through an anglophone parents' group.

The family spent 3 months previously in Moscow, god I disliked the place intensely, was hard to jump outside the expat bubble there, though we travelled aroud Moscow more in the those 3 months than families who had been there 3 years, I just didn't like it there and not surprisingly only kept in touch with one family once we had left. I know if we ever end up back there, I will make the most of what I do like about it there and count the days to leaving!!!

Good luck to the OP, hope your next place of abode is a happier one.

squashedandboshed Fri 12-Nov-10 19:36:20

Thanks for all of your replies - I was being facetious when I talked about airheads (though a few women I know do not stretch themselves past Heat magazine) - but I have found it intensely frustrating here to seemingly never (or very rarely) have conversations about anything going on in the world. The women are nice people but talking about Sindy dolls is not my thing! No one seems to know or care what is happening in the news - either here or back in the UK. Ok people want to keep things light and don't want heavy conversations but smiling all the time and saying everything is lovely and fine is very stepfordesque. Even talking about something interesting on the telly would be a start. Obviously I have just not met many people on my wavelength and maybe the one or two I know who are I have not made any effort to get to know - had I met them at the beginning of my time here rather than the end then it might have been different.
I am in an expat bubble and do not know any locals - I have also not learned the local language (much to my shame - typical brit abroad - but so much english is spoken it is really hard).

I have also found that I never see anyone outside of the children - when I once suggested to one woman (who I had known for a while) if she wanted to meet on a morning her son was in nursery (me pop round for a coffee) she was not interested. I feel they are playgroup friendships and not real friends, I am not wanted for who I am - just another woman with young children. I have tried to be friendly (ok not made huge effort, absolutely knackered most of the time and stressed with 2 very small children). I have sat through women who have talked about themselves for 10 mins or more and have asked me nothing about myself and I have come away thinking - why do I bother?

I know that things will be better when the children are older and I can join things of interest to me and I know that young children are not that conducive to intellectual conversations. Do not get me wrong - it is a lovely place where I live - far too many brits and expats but a lovely area and I regret not having made more of it and not sure where we are moving yet but I may very well really regret not making more of the opportunities here.

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elvisgirl Mon 15-Nov-10 12:10:56

I could have written your posts virtually word for word squashed...feel exactly the same but with only one DC & not in an expat bubble. You have to be so incredibly self-resourceful & it is exhausting on top of being a mum but never give up as you never know when a potential proper friend could cross your path, & don't be afraid to be selfish.

I recently started seeing a personal trainer (though not a hardcore fitness nazi type) so I could do something other than be with my DS all his waking hours, altho he is usually at the child area in the gym. It is pretty expensive but there is benefit in improving fitness/health & my state of mind has improved. For intellectual stimulation I listen to podcasts when DS is asleep whilst cooking etc, stuff from Radio 4, comedy, random ones I've found online - it's my replacement for proper conversations, & hopefully prevents me picking up the local accent grin

squashedandboshed Mon 15-Nov-10 13:52:26

local accent - not wolverhampton by any chance? (am yer a west midlands girl?)

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elvisgirl Tue 16-Nov-10 04:50:54

nope, it'd be the aussie strine, just me being ultra-snobbish grin originally from mid-Kent so I convince myself I have no accent at all hmm

YunoYurbubson Tue 16-Nov-10 05:35:14

I think you are being very negative OP, and although you say you are joking, it's not all joke, it is? If you go to a toddler group secretly feeling that you are intelectually superior to everyone else there, then you are unlikely to make friends.

Suspend the superiority, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. No one likes the toddler group gauntlet, but it is a necessary evil to endure to find some people who you can be friends with outside the group.

I am an expat, and have amongst my girl friends lawyers, directors, surfers, professional cyclists, a tri-lingual pianist, a tv producer, gardeners, marathon runners, teachers, and god knows how many different languages, nationalities and religeons. The point being that we all met in a hellish toddler group, and began by making polite conversation about potty training and nap times while shoveling boobs and rice cakes into our children. If I had rolled my eyes and given up I would have missed out on a lot of fabulous, funny, intellegent and interesting friends. The most unlikely people can turn out to be brilliant. It is useful that we all have young children, but our friendship is based on a genuine mutual enjoyment of each others company.

slim22 Tue 16-Nov-10 10:39:55

I agree that you seem quite negative although I understand where you are coming from. It seems you are grieving your former you.
But like Yuno just said, don't just dismiss everyone. To many of us, this motherhood forced bonding was very alienating, very different from the expectations that we might have had for yourselves.
But remember its a phase. Company is better than nothing when you have to go through loooong days of trying to entertain them and playgroups can be a relief for a few hours that you do not have to be the sole source of entertainment.
just keep an open mind as Yuno said. They might also think that you are as boring as they seem to you......

squashedandboshed Tue 16-Nov-10 13:00:41

If Yuno had read my post I said some of it tongue in cheek. It is not about being intelluctually superior it is about saying that we have not got past the superficial and I find that frustrating. I have not found the friendship based on mutual enjoyment of each others company and whilst you have - others don't - it does not make them deficient - it just says that it is perhaps not the best environment for some people to make friends. I have also not rolled up my eyes either - I am speaking after over 2 years of trying this route to finding like minded people. I also did not say they were boring - I said I did not have a lot in common with them.

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squashedandboshed Tue 16-Nov-10 13:02:55

Is it intellectually superior to wonder why - with everything that has happened in the world news in the 2.5 yrs I have been here - I have met very few people interested in talking about it?

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slim22 Tue 16-Nov-10 13:22:54

Maybe because they are just shattered by lack of sleep like you and see that you are likewise edgy and maybe not the best discussion to have with a total stranger that seems very reticent to mingle?

Come on don't be so defensive. We understand what you are saying, we are just asking you to be persistent because from experience we know you might get lucky at some point.
The only other option really is to lock yourself up in your tower with your children and wait it out. If you have the strength to do that then hats off!

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