MumAbroad? www.mumabroad.com

According to the latest figures from the Spanish Government there are now more than two million foreigners living in Spain, with around 750,000 of them coming from the European Union.


 


Not only are immigrants on the increase but the demographics are also changing. Whilst the majority of foreigners were previously made up of expats or those on short-term job placements, the country is now attracting increasing numbers of foreign families and couples intending to have children in search of a better life for themselves in sunnier climes.

Carrie Frais and Rebecca Laidlaw are two "Mumpreneurs" who have tapped into this growing trend. After having children in Barcelona, both discovered that there was a lack of information available for foreign families in the region, and so their online baby, MumAbroad (www.mumabroad.com), was born. The website is essentially a friendly, interactive, information resource for English-speaking parents living in the regions of Catalunya and, more recently, Madrid and the Costa Blanca, all of which have high numbers of resident expats. Users can browse information on a broad range of topics, including family-friendly holidays, maternity hospitals, and private and state education. The site also features interviews with local mothers, job offers, "Mumpreneurs", and local experts on subjects such as bilingualism or buying a property.

The website also provides a fortnightly newsletter and a forum which, according to former TV presenter Carrie, has created a busy online community.

"The Spanish tend to be very family-centric" she explains "They rely so much on grandparents and send their children to nursery at around four months so there is little need for the likes of mums and tots groups, ante and post-natal services or general mums meets. They do exist but people need help in finding them! We created MumAbroad to provide foreign parents with as much information as possible on anything from international schools to where to buy tasty, homemade cakes!?"

Rebecca and Carrie believe that the best advice any new mum can get is from other mothers, so absolutely everything on the website - whether it be an organic food shop or family-friendly day-trip - has been recommended by a resident mum.

"We spent months speaking to foreign parents about their experiences of living in their particular region of Spain" says Rebecca, also a director of a Barcelona-based internet Marketing agency. "We discovered that there is often a different level of expectation for their children compared to those of Spanish parents, so much of what has been recommended has been endorsed by a parent?s often idiosyncratic comments, which makes it more personal and relevant for the reader".

What has also surprised Carrie and Rebecca is the level of interest in the website from local mothers.

"Parenting sites are few and far between in Spain" explains Rebecca "and MumAbroad seems to act as a partial bridge between the local and International Community, which is also helping integration"

The number of children born to foreign families is expected to increase throughout Spain over the next few years, as are subscribers to the likes of websites such as MumAbroad. American mum of two Mum Tiffany Bishop, living in Barcelona echoes the thoughts of  many mothers in similar situations "When I had my first child five years ago, I struggled to feel part of any community. I have recently given birth to my second son, and, although at times I still feel quite isolated, the information and advice on MumAbroad has made me feel more connected, it has made a massive difference"

Rebecca Laidlaw

Rebecca is co-founder of the Barcelona based Internet marketing agency source23.com, having worked in both on- and offline marketing in Central and Eastern Europe for the past 10 years. She has a 21-month-old son, Oliver and is expecting a second child in January

Carrie Frais

Carrie is a freelance journalist. Having worked in television and radio for 12 years in the UK she moved to Barcelona in 2003. She also is director of the travel company intoBarcelona (www.intoBarcelona.com). Carrie has a 20-month old daughter, Poppy, and is expecting her second child in January

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