I communicate more electronically with friends and family now that we live overseas, than I ever did back in the states. I’m not kidding when I say my evenings after Georgie goes to bed are spent with google messenger and whatsapp up as I chat with friends from South Carolina to Hawaii and everywhere in between.
Expat lives can be lonely and even once you've made friends in your new home, there are no friends like old friends. Personally, I rely on my oldest friends to keep me sane. (Which they do, quite admirably too, I might add!) In talking with an Air Force wife on instagram, she agreed with me when it comes to raising babies and living away so far from your friends and family, life can kinda suck. But, like all good expats, we agreed that what doesn’t break us simply makes us stronger. As we live our time overseas, we’ve gotten pretty inventive with keeping in touch with family and friends. This means texting conversations at 1am simply because we're all awake, a Facetime schedule with friends, email folders full of hilarious conversations, Facebook calls (I never ever knew this was a thing!) and group whatsapp chats, just to name a few. When your friends and family are spread out all over the world, we ignore bedtimes to stay up and talk because I believe that family and good friends are worth sacrificing a little sleep for.
Without a doubt, the easiest way to stay in contact with people is Facebook. Especially for large families, friends, etc. But, early on in my pregnancy, Aaron and I decided that we wouldn’t share lots of picture of Georgie on Facebook, Instagram, this blog, etc. It just wasn’t something we felt was necessary. We would rather she create her own digital footprint of pictures she approved of, instead of us posting pictures for potentially hundreds of people to see, that she may not appreciate later on! Instead, we made a private photo album that only 24 people or so can see and there we post the occasional pictures that we know aunts and uncles and grandparents and close friends would appreciate. But of course, grandparents probably aren’t thrilled with getting one picture a week or so of their granddaughter…
Thankfully, I’ve discovered TinyBeans which allows me to safely upload daily pictures or videos to the app and the pictures can either be accessed by people we’ve given access to or they can receive daily, weekly, or monthly emails. I think this might be a big hit with the grandparents and the great grandparents. ;) It's convenient and easy to use, which is a total win for everybody. As an added bonus, it's a great incentive for me to take daily pictures of her and document her growth.
Now, since we’re overseas, we can’t always text people without incurring TONS of charges, or worse yet, sometimes the text just won't go through. As someone who is probably addicted to texting, this was a problem until I started using WhatsApp. Thank GOODNESS for WhatsApp. I use this all. the. time. Basically it's a free texting app. No frills, just texting.
Also, Snapchat. Yeah, I hopped on the snapchat bandwagon. What better way to send your sister a picture of your dinner than snapchat? It’s kinda brilliant. While I don’t get into doing stories for public consumption, I do love the random chats and while sometimes I forget what the conversation was about, it’s a pretty entertaining way to stay in touch!
And lastly, I can't forget about Facetime. I have a schedule for friends that I follow nearly religiously (hey, it works!) and of course we always appreciate the random calls. But Facetime is the closest we can talk to people face to face without being somewhere in person. I love Facetime and now we set Georgie in front of the screen so she can coo and babble to our family and hopefully begin to recognize their voices and faces.
In the States, I took for granted having family literally next door or right down the road. Coffee dates with friends were a weekly thing. Now instead, we do weekly (or bi-weekly) Facetime dates complete with the free hot beverage of our choice. As we enter the holiday season, I'm even more grateful for family and friends, their willingness to be flexible with different apps, our frequent conversations, and the many ways we can stay in touch.