I’m about to admit something that I’m not sure I want to.
I am part of a mommy Facebook group.
Actually, it’s more like 3-4 mommy groups. I think. Because there is no shortage of them available to join.
So why am I so embarrassed to admit that? I think it’s because they come with a bit of a stigma. That these groups become a bit of a forum where the braggers brag, the showoffs show and the judgers judge.
Yes. That definitely happens. Especially that last part.
Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of being a part of the Facebook Mommy group.
Because I am part of local groups, most of the time I am able to get in touch with local vendors, small businesses and moms who are super-talented and run home businesses. If you have a need, there is somebody who can help you solve it.
I’ve met some great moms that way. Word of mouth really does a lot, and these groups show that tenfold.
Moms are never short on opinions, and so you are sure to get an honest review of just about anything, including children’s party venues, restaurants, vendors, schools, books, and more.
Aside from the never-ending stream of recommendations and warnings, there is always somebody around to lend some help. When I was trying to help my daughter while she was struggling with math, it wasn’t hard to find other moms who were struggling too. Following along on those discussion threads gave me some tips, tricks and links to links to aids that helped out. The best part was I found a local tutoring company that turned out to be what we needed to help her out. I’m glad I found the recommendation.
There are funny memes about housework, good recipe ideas and somebody always ISO (in search of) something for an upcoming wedding, baby, birthday or party.
There can be a sense of community. I know that when I was on my first maternity leave, I was alone. Facebook was alive and running, however these groups were non-existent. If I wanted to connect to other moms, I went to the free Mother Goose times at the library, or to the Early Childhood Centre for an hour of play and songs. And I went to those events, every week. But I only stayed an hour, once a week, and then found myself back at home.
Yes, I had friends and family, however I can see the ease of speaking to other moms, in a place where you all have something in common. There is a benefit of feeling like you are a part of something, with others who are like you. Even if it’s online.
However with the good, comes the bad….
Let’s start with the fact that I have turned off my notifications for each and every group I belong to. Like all notifications. My phone was ringing, pinging and dinging every minute on the minute with another mommy’s search, review, warning, video or whatever. So all notifications are OFF.
I take that one step further and if I have replied to a post, give a suggestion or share a link or a recommendation, I go back into those posts and turn the notifications off on that post too, or again, my phone lights up like it’s Christmas.
I wish that the flashing blue notification light was the only bad part. However, there are a lot more things I don’t like about some of these groups. Take for example, when somebody posts a picture of one of their kids’ body parts with a rash/bite/infection/issue. We are not doctors. I repeat – WE ARE NOT DOCTORS! Please don’t ask what the collective group thinks it is. With 9,753 members, you are bound to get 19,506 answers. It is safer to go see your doctor and not fill your brain with the possibility of what it “could be”, what it “looks like” and if anyone has ever had this happen to their kid before.
It’s probably better to search WebMD or Google, and you already know how bad of idea that is! However, moms continue to do this, and so I just scroll on by.
Everyone has a bad day. And sometimes so do your kids. And it happens at school and there are moms who feel the need to share the situation with their closest “friends” in said mommy group. I’m sorry that situation happened to you, but don’t publicly bash teachers, other kids at school, fellow parents, or best yet – strangers. So somebody at Walmart moved your cart because you were blocking the aisle and your kid was in it. It’s not the end of the world, or your kid came home without socks on. Stuff happens. Kids are kids. And Facebook (especially these groups) are not a place to discuss it especially considering that lynch mob comes out and suddenly we’re involving the school board.
Once in a while somebody starts a “game” that involves, find your birthday twin, or find your kids’ birth dates, or kids names. This involves asking the members of said group to share either your birthday in order to find another member with the same birthday. Or better yet, share your kids names and birthdays and see if anyone else’s kids have the same name or birthday. My ultimate favourite is when they ask to share where your kids go to school.
Here’s the MAJOR ISSUE I have with this exercise. Why are you sharing this information with 9,753 strangers? Once you put it out there, it’s out there forever! And yes, Facebook and the entire internet is not private (shocker!!), however don’t willingly provide details to other “moms”. Which brings me to my other point, and that while yes, administrators have to approve you to be in a group, and probably snoop your profile to ensure you’re a mom. But how do they know? My profile is private? I had a picture of myself as my profile pic? I got an emails asking “are you a mamma?” And I answered yes. Done. I was in.
Do you see the potential issues with this?
Perhaps I’ve been married to D for too long, but I trust no one in these groups, and am careful about what I share. And like my blog, I never share my kids’ faces, their birthdays, names or most certainly where they go to school.
It’s not safe and you shouldn’t do it.
So, how can it be worse than that?
The pushing of products. Now, I love home businesses more than the next mom. Heck, I have friends who sell Arbonne, Stella & Dot, Pampered Chef, ThirtyOne, shakes, wraps, jewellery, cakes, shirts and more. But if you try to sell me when I didn’t ask to be sold to, I’m out. Yes, everyone needs to make a living. Some choose to haul their asses out of the house and some choose to stay home and do it. I’m not judging. You do you.
But, don’t PM me with your elevator pitch, or pretend to be asking me about one thing and then drop the bomb on me. Not interested. Don’t want it. And as my mother always says, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.”
There are a few groups that allow for Business Posts, and I’m all for that. If I’m looking for something in particular, I’ll peruse that post, or bravely post my own question like “where can I find X” and wait for the answers and the PMs and the pitches that become a free-for-all with that kind of question. And I trust that most of the time, answers and links posted to recommended products/services are from those who have used such products/services before. While other times, people have paid that Facebook group to be part of their “brands” and then get pushed out and promoted, regardless if they are reputable or not. If I ask for a photographer, I don’t want the name of somebody who paid to be there. I want a recommendation based on somebody who had a great experience.
So, since I now know how it works, I no longer ask for recommendations on these pages. And it is the SOLE reason I have left one group in particular.
The bottom line is there is something for everyone, I just don’t need it in my face all the time. If I really like your business, I’ll follow your business page. And I’ll make my own recommendations. Force me to, and that’s the fasted way for you to lose me.
Possibly the ugliest part of these groups is the mom-shaming that happens. Whether it’s sparked from a comment, or a meme – or sometimes without real reason – moms are mean. Really mean! It’s bad enough that we beat ourselves up over the things we do and don’t do for our kids. The food we give them, the lotions we use, the lunches we pack, the guilt is endless! But to then have to read bashing posts from other moms – complete strangers – baffles my mind.
I know people judge. I’ve been THAT mom at Walmart getting a little too loud because my girls are running up and down the aisles and I can feel people staring me down. I don’t need you to judge/stare at me because I haven’t got my kids under control. I get it. I’m judging myself harder than you ever could as it is. But then to see 197 comments under a post from a mom asking for advice literally makes me sick. Everyone has their own story, their own situation. Shit happens and as we know, some moments are better than others. It’s hard enough to survive some days, so I can see the appeal in bonding with other mothers in a place where everyone technically has the same struggle. Where it’s meant to be “safe” to share your stuggles and get support from your squad!
I mean, what’s better than sharing the struggles of motherhood with 9,000 other strangers? When you’re feeling down and in need of support and then you put yourself out there to get ripped and shredded apart by these strangers, safely hidden behind their smiley profile pic.
No thanks. I’m out.
So I have happily left 3 groups. In fact, one I left WITH a friend of mine after we both discussed how we were starting to actually feel stressed out by being in one. I was starting to have a visceral reaction to seeing the administrators’ activity on my Facebook feed. So together we called up the group’s home page and UNLIKED that group. I never felt so good!
I am currently in 4 groups. I hover the UNLIKE button on one of them, but the remaining three groups are smaller, local groups that don’t try to sell me anything. The smaller of the two really seems to be the kind of online community that was sure to be the original purpose of the mommy group in the first place. A forum where moms come together for support, meal help, a few laughs and some time wasted.
Because we all know how much extra time parents have! And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather waste it in a place that isn’t toxic; isn’t trying to sell me anything and where people aren’t ripping each other apart.
How about you? Are you a part of these online groups? What are your thoughts about them? Good? Bad? Ugly?