Without question, one of the toughest parts I've found about being an expat is raising children far away from my own family. When I was in hospital having my first child eight years ago, my parents could not be there. Of course, upon the happy arrival I emailed them some photos from the hospital ward and we were lucky that they were able to visit when my daughter was three weeks old. It was wonderful, not only having the help, but for them meet their grand-daughter. They stayed for a month, but then had to go back to the USA and so this meant I went back to emailing them and occasionally posting them photographs. Fast forward four years, and I was in the hospital having my son. I was in London, while my mother was in Florida. At this point, my mother had joined the social age and was able to see uploaded photos regularly of her grandson and granddaughter.
Nowadays many of my relatives are on social networks and so I am able to share details of our lives and photos of the children as they grow up. Moozles turned eight a few days ago, and I was able to share photos from her birthday party that very same day, my family did not have to wait long to see the fun she was having. My family always want to see photos of the children on special occasions and milestones - birthdays and Christmas are especially important when you are separated by an ocean. Both of my children have also had hospital stays, so it is wonderful to be able to keep my family updated during those times. It really lowers the amount of worrying when you can give live updates of a child smiling in their hospital bed.
When it comes to staying in touch, I think the same goes for my childhood and university friends. Most of us have families and share our loves online, this can be invaluable in a world where people move to different states and different countries. Sometimes the things we share are the pretty, glossy side of life and sometimes we share heartbreaks and loss. But the good thing is we are able to share, despite the fact that there are hundreds and thousands of miles between many of us.
Although social media has proven to be invaluable in helping to connect me to my family and friends around the world, it does have some drawbacks. It can be tough to organise photos and find old photos and at times you can't help but worry about who might be looking at photos of your children. With Lifecake, you can choose who has access to your family photos. You can also make albums/timelines for each child (with photos and videos), making it easier to look back on those memories.
It's hard imagining trying to stay in touch with family 30 years ago if you were living in different countries, it must have been so tough. Whilst it can be sad to be be far from loved ones, at least we can still keep up to date with each other's lives and thanks to apps like Lifecake - it's never been simpler.
Elfa Wilmot is an American expat who has lived in London for almost 14 years. She's married to a Brit and raising two small children who make fun of her accent. She writes about her life and family on her blog Californian Mum in London