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

Montreal Gazette - - Arts & Life - SU­SAN SEMENAK THE GAZETTE

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?

DAVE SIDAWAY THE GAZETTE

Caro­line Al­lard, with her daugh­ters Cle­men­tine, 9, and Emma, 3, is Que­bec’s best-known mommy blog­ger, thanks to her posts on Mère in­digne.

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