You knew things would change, but now that baby’s here meeting for coffee requires a degree in logistics. A simple girls’ night out can mean weeks of planning. If keeping up with your former social circle feels like driving a three-wheeled stroller across Siberia, you’re not alone.
“I like to think of networking online as the new playground for moms,” says Nichole Smith, a site moderator at MothersClick.com and owner of her own site, theguiltyparent.com. “Social networking can be a powerful experience for moms because motherhood can often feel lonely.”
“We like connecting and talking to other moms; what better way to do that than online? I can log on and see what’s going on with my friends in a matter of minutes, which with kids at home, a few minutes might be all I have at any given point,” Smith adds. “I’ve fallen in love with online communities and social networks and the impact they can have on moms.”
According to a study by iVillage, Compass Partners, and BlogHer (an online women’s blog network), more than 42 million U.S. women participate in some form of social media activity online every week. That’s more than half of all U.S. women who use the Internet!
So if you’re craving some social interaction, get online! You’ll be amazed by the many ways you can connect with mothers who have the same questions and experiences as you.
A site for every mom
“My friend kept talking about the advice she got other moms [on Mamasource.com] and it seemed to really help her,” says Michelle Moss from Sanger, CA, now a member of Mamasource.com. “So I gave it a try. It’s nice to have an outside voice. Someone who, without judgment, can reply to your post and give an honest answer.”
Alicia Malknecht, from Owosso, MI, started using CafeMom.com three months ago, and now, “I’m on there every day!” she says. “It has the best groups to join and it’s the easiest site I have used yet.” CafeMom.com’s rich with interactive features and tools: You can write a journal, ask questions, or strike up a conversation with thousands of moms and moms-to-be in one of the site’s more than 60,000 different groups.
Overwhelmed by that much choice? You can find communities with a narrower focus. No matter your interest, there’s likely a place for it. Mothers balancing working life with family time can check out Workitmom.com for support and advice. You can get local with Mamasource.com, just enter your zip code and find moms in your area. Read articles from real-life moms—and publish your own experiences—at Type-A Mom (typeamom.net). If you’re planning to breastfeed or are already nursing, check out Breastfeeding.com—there’s supportive community of like-minded mamas and the site offers several experts and medical professionals to provide advice. But Moss offers a smart reminder, “You can get great answers very quickly, but nothing should take the place of your doctor.”
Shall we meet?
Computers are convenient and safe, so do online moms take the extra step to meet IRL (in real life)?
“In July of this year, I got to meet a number of moms I network with online at a conference held by BlogHer in Chicago,” Smith says. “Some of those moms I’ve shared very private things with and it was the best experience of my life. I met a whole family I never knew existed.”
Moss agrees. “As long as you are in a safe environment—and you feel the people you are meeting are safe—it could be a great way on making new friends. I’ve been trying to get a playgroup going in my town.”
“I’ve run two marathons with two women that I met on CafeMom.com,” Malknecht says. “I talk to them every day on CafeMom and on the phone.”
“The best part about the network is you get to read some funny stories,” Moss says. “You realize that there is at least one other person who’s gone through what you’re going through. And you feel you’re not alone, even if it’s just by having people to tell about the wacky thing your baby did!”
— Eve O’Neill