Why You Need Online Mum Friends

Opinion, Parenting

I have a group of friends who know almost everything about me. They are my go-to in times of worry and anxiety. I’ve poured out my heart to them in hopes, fears and dreams. We’ve been there through amazing times and terrible times. I talk to them most days. Yet I very rarely tell anyone about them.

You see, these are my online mum friends.

They are the very best of women. In fact, I have two groups of online mum friends friends: a group who I’ve known for 5 years, and a group who I’ve known for just over a year. And both groups are brilliant.

Nearly 5 years ago, I signed up to Mumsnet. I was in the early stages of pregnancy, hadn’t told anyone except Tim, and really didn’t know what to expect. I quickly found my way to the antenatal clubs, and joined one for August 2012.

On those boards, you’re pretty much anonymous. You can ask questions about pretty much anything you like, safe in the knowledge that someone else is probably going through it. When you put a certain number of women together – even online – who are at the same stage of pregnancy, there’s always someone else going through the same as you.

Around the time of the babies births, that group progressed on to Facebook.

That shifted things. All of a sudden, these anonymous women had profile photos, partners, husbands, existing children. They were posting photos of their newborn babies. It became easier to remember who was going through what.

One by one, each of the babies were born, and all the friendships deepened a little.

This group was like no other group of women I had ever really met. There was such openness and honesty. They have been a huge part of my parenting journey, and I know I am a better mum because of these groups.

Why you need online mum friends

Why You Need Online Mum-Friends

I’m a part of two online mum groups: one for each of my children. Here’s why they are brilliant:

They are going through exactly the same thing as you

In real life, it’s very unusual to find several mums whose babies are exactly the same age as yours. Even within an NCT group, there can be 2-3 months between babies. So when you join a group of mums whose babies are born within a month of yours, there will always be someone going through exactly the same thing. You will be able to share your hormonal ups and downs, your weaning struggles and your naptime dilemmas with other mums who are in exactly the same situation.

Their support is incredible

I have seen these women support each other beyond anything I’ve seen in real life, to be honest. Yes, we’ve asked for and given advice about the usual parenting milestones: breastfeeding, weaning, potty training, sleeping, napping, childcare and so on.

But actually, it’s gone much deeper than that. We’ve dealt with premature babies, miscarriages, IVF, babies born with long-term medical conditions, fears about our relationships and marriages, worries about our health and our families health. We’ve talked about finances, and the fulfilment of work, and fidelity. Nothing is taboo.

They go far beyond the expected

There have been collective mercy-missions: a whip-round to send an online shop of luxuries to a family who were going through a tough time; flowers for those who have experienced loss; and the anonymous donation of an extra-large pizza to someone who was in dire straits. This week alone, the group managed to get a Hatchimal from one end of the country to the other – no mean feat, I can assure you.

There have also been the real-life visits, meeting up with someone who is lonely and isolated. Visiting the new mum hours after the birth of her baby when her partner has had to go in to work. Even meeting up for a birthday party and seeing all these long-for children playing together.

Their knowledge and experience is both diverse and wise

The mums in my groups come from a really wide range of backgrounds. They are from different parts of the country and the world. They are trained in different jobs and professions. This has been both fascinating and really helpful so many times.

This is particularly helpful when they have older children, especially if you’re a first time mum. Sometimes, just knowing how long a phase will end, or what to expect, is really valuable.

They allow you to express things you can’t in real life

Those frustrations that seem so insignificant? The worries that your husband just laughed off? The actual pain you are in because your baby just grabbed your nose? You can tell your online mum friends. They’ll get it.

They’ll challenge you when you need it

It might just be me (perhaps my real-life friends are all too polite), but if there’s something controversial that comes up, it’s very rarely openly challenged. In my online mum friends groups, there has been a bit of challenge, and it promotes interesting discussion. Challenge and disagreement aren’t always a bad thing, but perhaps they are somehow less intimidating online.

They might just save your life

Without going in to too much detail, one of my online friends posted a few worries she had about her husband. After a few members of the group said, “I think he needs to see the GP, just to be sure,” she took the advice. Now he’s recovering from the removal of a benign brain tumour which may not have been found if she hadn’t posted. While that’s very unusual, the fact is, it happened.

Very often, mums online groups can be seen as cruel, nasty or spiteful. They don’t have the best reputation.

But actually, that’s not my experience at all. These two online groups have become a significant part of my support network. They have really enriched my experience of motherhood. We know that it takes a village to raise a child; they are part of my village. My online village.

So this is the advice I would now give to new mums, or newly-pregnant women, would be to find one of these groups. Yes, you have to be patient. It takes time to build up these relationships (although women discussing their experiences of childbirth and morning sickness tends to do that). You get out what you put in, like with most relationships. But their support will be invaluable.

There is nothing quite like being able to reach out to 30 other mums of babies the same age as yours at any time of the day or night, and being able to get support and advice. In both groups, no question is too stupid – someone else will almost certainly be thinking of it. No nagging suspicion is too little. In the same way, it’s probably one of the few places I can genuinely share my children’s achievements (or mine) without feeling like I’m at risk of unpleasant comments or seeming like I’m showing off.

So here’s to my online mum-friends. I’m very, very lucky to be part of such a brilliant community. If you can find your online mum friends, good on you. I’m going to celebrate mine.

 

 

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By Naomi

Comments

  1. Reply

    This is so true Naomi! Us mums wouldn’t survive without the support from other mums. And to start with the anonimity of online mum friends make you feel safe & then you realise it’s totally okay to let your guard down & discuss all aspects of your life!

  2. Reply

    I think I missed a trick as I joined baby centre during pregnancy and it was good to ask questions but I found it quite addictive and deleted the app after my daughter was born because I thought I was getting a bit obsessive and comparing to everyone about everything. I’ve got quite a few friends with babies similar age so I’ve always just gone to them for advice and support. I did meet some girls from the breastfeeding cafe and we chatted via Facebook messenger for a while but I didn’t really click with some of them and the messages were so often I found it all too much and so I left the group. I’m glad you’ve found some nice friends online though. Since blogging I’ve found some like minded women who I think could become good friends. Xx

    1. Reply

      What a lovely comment. I’m so sorry you didn’t find a little online community. I preferred Mumsnet to Baby Centre to be honest. But I’m so glad you have found the online community xx

  3. Reply

    You are so right! I have had a few groups of friends that I had when my son was a baby, it was so good to be able to ask them questions quickly and easily. Plus I think people are more honest online then they are face to face, so more likely to show their having a bad day and then make you feel normal for having a bad day too!

    1. Reply

      Yes to the online honesty! Isn’t that strange? In fact, when I met some of those mums in real life, I was a bit shocked at how put-together they all were!

  4. Reply

    Couldn’t agree more with this. I love my online friends. My husband doesn’t really get it, but they are such a strength! xx #maternitymondays

    1. Reply

      I know, my husband talks about ‘My Mumsnet Friends’! He doesn’t get it either! xx

  5. Reply

    There’s nothing like peer support. I found mine at a local yummy mummy group. But it shows that if these groups aren’t your thing then there are online options that are equally fabulous.
    #MarvMondays

    1. Reply

      Yes, I think a lot of people who would be intimidated by a yummy mummies group would be happier with an online group. I actually like to have both! xx

  6. Reply

    That’s great that you have such a supportive network of online friends! I was fortunate that my NCT group all had babies within 6 weeks of each other so from that perspective we were able to share experiences. But it would be nice to have some impartial friends to talk to about finance, relationships etc. I feel I am forming some online friendships but I don’t have a core group. Perhaps one day since it sounds like it would bring even more richness to my life. Guess it’s like in the ‘olden days’ when we had pen pals… #MarvMondays

    1. Reply

      I did have an NCT group but the babies were all born quite far apart. And there is an honesty that you can get online sometimes. I think there is a lot of lovely community in blogging, especially in parent blogging. I hope you find your core group soon xx

  7. Reply

    It sounds like you really have an amazing support network online which is good for when you need an escape from everyday life! I too have found the online community such a help since becoming a mum! #marvmondays

    1. Reply

      Absolutely – this is now the no1 piece of advice I give to new mums xx

  8. Reply

    This is so true. I often think online mum friends see the whole you because you are much more inclined to
    Share more. What a lovely experience you’ve had. Support networks are invaluable especially when you’re vulnerable after having a baby #maternitymondays

    1. Reply

      Thanks for such a lovely comment. The response I’ve had on this post is great – most people have had wonderful support from online friends that they wouldn’t have got without the Internet xx

  9. Reply

    Aww this is lovely, online friends can sometimes form a bigger part in your life than real life ones. I feel I have made some lovely mum friends through blogging. I always find mums net a bit confusing but you’ve made me want to join xx #maternitymondays

    1. Reply

      I think Mumsnet can be a bit intimidating to start with, but you get the hang of it! I know Netmums and Baby Centre also have baby boards xx

  10. Reply

    Here Here to online Mums and the support we gain from eachother. It’s so reassuring especially in these times that we can find genuine support and friendship. A positive use for social media!!
    #marvmondays ?

    1. Reply

      I honestly think – and I didn’t, before meeting these ladies – that this is one of the best aspects of social media. Thanks for your lovely comment x

  11. Reply

    I could have written this myself! After not really making any mummy friends I’ve found myself in a FB group similar to yours, it’s exactly how you’ve described it but my god we’ve had some drama along the way… after some arguments the creator deleted the group so we had to start a new one!!
    Luckily 5 of us are in South Wales and we’ve met up!

    Also joined a local mums group and am in the early stages of making some new friends that way too…. so thank god for the Internet!

    Loved reading your post! Xxx

    1. Reply

      Thank you for such a lovely comment. I’m so glad you’ve found a lovely group of mum friends – I agree about the Internet! xx

  12. Reply

    Awww Naomi this is such a lovely post. I’ve recently found a group of other mums just like this on twitter and for the first time in three years since I started blogging, totally understand what you mean. Its so nice when you find other mums and dads that you can talk to, and I mean really talk to without fear of judgement. Great post, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    1. Reply

      Thank so much for such a lovely comment Emily. It’s definitely been a post which has struck a chord xx

  13. Reply

    Love this! I couldn’t agree more and will be sharing this with my online mum group! 🙂

    1. Reply

      Ah, thanks! It seems to resonate with lots of people xx

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