This article was originally published in Family Matters magazine and has been republished here with their permission.
I’d hazard a guess that the wee hours of the morning is one of the most active times on social media for new parents. I’ve personally spent many hours in a darkened room feeding, changing, or soothing my babies, while simultaneously chatting online with other sleep-deprived parents.
Being a parent of young children can be an isolating experience. It can be hard to get out with a baby, and if you add more children to the mix it’s hard to schedule activities outside the home around dueling nap schedules.
Luckily we have access to social media these days, which is a great way to “talk” to other local parents even if you can’t leave your house. Heather Nolan of Timberlea is the Mommy behind the food focused lifestyle blog Mmm Is For Mommy. She says that social media has helped her stay connected.
“I’m a bit of an introvert, but also love to talk, so social media is huge for me,” she says. “While I learned pretty quickly to take parenting articles with a grain of salt, the camaraderie of just speaking with other moms who are dealing with the same issues I am is a huge comfort, no matter what we end up talking about.”
Nolan took that love of social media and joined forces with two other local bloggers to create East Coast Mom Media. They host public bi-weekly Twitter chats for parents (#ECMChat) and also award “door” prizes from local businesses during the chat.
Each chat has a different topic, although the conversation often meanders based on what’s on everyone's minds that week. The last chat I attended saw me confessing my crush on Anthony of The Wiggles – don’t judge me until you’ve seen him dancing to Dr. Knickerbocker … seriously, Elvis who?
If you prefer a less public venue to air your crushes on kiddie TV hosts then you can create a secret group on Facebook. I am a member of several large HRM parenting groups and I found a close connection with some members based on location and/or the age of our children. I’ve created private groups with these parents to share more personal issues, as well as make play date plans. It lessens the risk of having 30 babies show up at my house (with their “plus one” parent) after issuing an open invitation to a Valentine’s Party (true, yet adorable, story).
If you're looking for family activities that will connect you to others with similar interests, I recommend checking out the blogs at Urban Parent and Family Fun Halifax. Both create great locally based lists of weekend activities. They also post them on Facebook and Twitter on Fridays.
So the next time you’re up at night struggling with a teething toddler or inconsolable newborn, log on and start connecting – knowing someone else is out there in your own community dealing with the same thing can lessen the feelings of isolation. And, as a bonus, I’ve learned that the glow from an iPhone at night is the perfect level of illumination to change a diaper without fully waking a baby.