I read somewhere that the people who are hardest on Moms are other Moms. I felt that hard. Although the only other people who can possibly understand what you are going through are other Moms, Moms often judge one another harshly. With my first child, I avoided Mom groups. I felt like I was an outsider who was doing everything wrong and feared that I would be shamed if I spoke up. With my second child, and with the help from a Mom I knew in real life, I was able to find the right Mom communities online that have greatly helped me in making genuine connections, save money, create amazing experiences for my children, and feel supported in my role as Mother. The internet is truly wild, and I hope my experience can help new Moms and other Moms struggling to find their online community go through a less troubling journey.
A Secret Community With Rules
There is a never-ending list of Mom Groups online if you simply search “Mom Group” in your desired area. I tried this and entered a world where so many comments began with “No offense, but” or “I would never” and other statements shaming the original poster. It wasn’t until I was with an experienced Mom friend, and she mentioned a group she belonged to on Facebook in which she was buying and selling used kids’ clothes. I asked her more questions about it, and she informed me that it was a “secret” group. The only way you could be in it is if someone invited you, and admins then approved you. It sounded so exclusive. I asked her to invite me anyway, and I joined. For months, I just hung out, trying to figure out all the acronyms and how it all worked. I came across a lot of “admins” that came in and corrected posters’ language. There were also a lot of posts saying “I hope this is okay to post.” It was the first time I experienced an outsider essentially policing the posts. I originally felt like it limited the community. The community was mostly for buying, selling, trading, and giving away child-related items, but Moms often came on and asked for advice on child-rearing topics. I felt like the post policing could limit the advice given and (maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist) possibly have a hidden agenda. The more I hung in the shadows, the more I realized that there was no hidden agenda. The policing was there to keep the Mom shamers out. The admins were there to make sure no one felt unsafe and that sellers/buys were being fair. I’m a rule follower, and I liked it.
No “Cool Kids” Table
The other part of this particular online mom group that worried me was that it seemed like everyone knew each other. Moms would ask about others’ kids by name and rally together to help out a Mom in need. I quickly learned that a lot of times, they didn’t personally know someone. They just treated everyone equally. Once I started selling and buying my own items, I also learned that you would come across a lot of the same Moms in the group because they had kids the same age or lived close to you. You would learn their names and connect over similarities but probably never even meet them since most pickups were done by a simple porch exchange. This worked great for me since my time out is often limited. I made the connection but didn’t feel pressured to schedule time to be social.
Making Genuine Connections
As I became more active in this particular buy/sell group on Facebook, Moms in the group introduced me to other communities that had great resources for activities for kids and ways to save money on all things kid-related. The biggest pro of the unsupervised Mom groups is that if I have a question and want an answer or advice fast, I can post, and other group members can respond quickly. A downside to Mom groups that have active admins is that each post needs to be approved, and sometimes that means my post will take a day or two to appear. I appreciate the careful curation of the posts over the speed of response.
Many groups also have rules about sensitive topics such as vaccinations, politics, and bottle/breastfeeding. Some allow you to discuss these topics, but comments will not be allowed that shame. Some groups don’t allow these topics at all. What this has created are communities that are respectful as well as helpful. I have created genuine connections with Moms outside of the group whose opinion I respect and can go to them directly when I need some advice or simple support when my kid is being, well – a kid.
Ask A Mom Not Google or Facebook
My best advice is to ask a Mom for her favorite online group instead of looking it up online. If you were like me when I had my first child and don’t really know any other Moms, The Milwaukee Mom Community + Connection group is run by us here at Milwaukee Mom has rules, is respectful, and is a great space to start building your mom support group. Also, know that you will probably always run into a Mom you don’t see eye to eye with. Sanity tip: do not take their views personally or feel like you need to push your views on them. After all, we’re all in the same boat just trying to stay afloat.