The mommy diaries
MOTHERS OF MANY STRIPES are taking advantage of online networking tools to give advice, market their products, and share their travails with those who can relate all too well
Last week, they threw a margarita party where everybody stopped whatever they were doing and poured a drink.
On a daily basis, they listen to each other’s rants and raves about everything from errant socks and messy husbands to sleeplessness and school bake sales.
They plan playdates, exchange recipes and market their products. And they vent. Boy, do they vent.
They are mommy bloggers, a quick-growing online community of mothers, some of them new sleep-deprived parents on maternity leave, others seasoned stay-athome moms. Still others are entrepreneurs juggling the demands of parenthood and product development. They blog, they tweet on Twitter, using social media to keep in touch.
Twitter, the microblogging site that allows users to write text updates and publish them as short messages, now has a site called TwitterMoms. Last week, the moms tweeted each other to organize a continent-wide Twitter Party, with followers invited to mix up a batch of margaritas and go online to share stories and cocktail recipes (www.momsniteout.com).
Quebec has its share of active bloggers and twitterers: In Montreal, more than a dozen mommy blogs chronicle the lives and myriad interests of mothers.
“I tried for years to be the perfect mother, worrying that the pediatrician would discover my lies,” goes one of the self-deprecating and very funny blog posts on Mère indigne (Unworthy Mother), a French-language blog created by Caroline Al- lard, Quebec’s best-known mommy blogger. “Changing diapers 15 times a day. Does that encourage impure thoughts? Yes, totally,” she writes in another.
“ The chaos in our house is unreal,” Heather Armstrong writes on her blog Dooce, which made Forbes magazine’s list of most popular blogs. Armstrong is a former web designer from Salt Lake City, Utah, married with two children (age 5 and 7) and a dog. She started blogging in 2001 and was fired from her job a year later because she’d written stories about people from her workplace. It might have been the best thing that ever happened to her. Between loads of laundry, she began chronicling her life, from the “incredible swollenness and throwing up” of pregnancy to potty training and postpartum de- pression. With humour and panache, she’s blogged about breast milk pumps and a guy she once dated who talked like Elmo during sex.
She developed enough of a following to attract big-name advertisers, among them McDonald’s, and to get invited to appear on the Today Show. By 2005, the website was running enough ads that her husband quit his job, and now the blog supports the whole family.
Locally, there’s Banlieusardises (“life in the suburbs”) by Martine Gingras, a freelance journalist and stay-at-home mom in Rosemere who posts glorious photographs of her latest decor projects and detailed plans for growing beets from seed and throwing princess-themed birthday parties.
Momtreal is a blog full of tips and ideas for young families. Created in 2007 by Valerie Mayrand, it bills itself as “a one-stop source of cool ideas and resources.”
Kim Vallée is a Montreal blogger and social media expert who gives how-to blogging seminars. Her own site, At Home with Kim Vallée, is a sleek online decor magazine that tallies more than 5,000 visits a day, most of them from women who also follow her on Twitter.
Vallée says most mommy blogs start out small, as a way for mothers to reach out to other mothers or to keep in touch with relatives and friends. Not all mothers with blogs want to discuss mothering matters. Some offer windows into private lives, others stick to business.
“Most blogs will have one main area of interest – say, photography or decor or food,” she said. “But mommy blogs are different. They often cover a lot of ground, from childcare and parenting to home schooling, architecture or art. Women are great multi-taskers, and that shows in their blogs.”
Lianne Hogan of Candiac doesn’t call her blog, Baby Burrito, a mommy blog; she prefers the term “mom-entrepreneur” blog. She’s loathe to post personal pictures or intimate information. Instead, this baby clothing designer and mother of a 3-year-old son uses her blog, website and Twitter to feature her vibrant, contemporary collection of locally made baby clothes and accessories, and to showcase the work of fellow craftspeople. She’s relied on her blog followers to test-market new fabric swatches for her kimonos, hats and slings.
“As a mother and entrepre- neur working from home, I don’t get to see people that often, so social media is a great way of connecting,” she said.
Josyan McGregor uses her blog – called Look Who’s Drinking the Digital Coolaid – to exchange ideas about the digital world. A single mother with shared custody of a 13year-old son, Evan, she feels the need to “be around” evenings and weekends. So af- ter she arrives home from work and gets supper ready, she logs on to her Macbook and surfs the web, then shares her tidbits with 30 or so blog followers and the 580 who follow her on Twitter.
“Being online is a way to be out there without leaving the house,” she said from her home in Greenfield Park.
Recently, when Evan began worrying about losing touch with his old friends once he starts high school in the fall, McGregor taught him to chat on MSN. How cool is that?
Caroline Allard, with her daughters Clementine, 9, and Emma, 3, is Quebec’s best-known mommy blogger, thanks to her posts on Mère indigne.