Virtual Village: Finding Support in Today’s Online World

. December 1, 2016.
tech

At some point, you’ve probably uttered the phrase “It takes a village!” when welcoming help while raising your children. In today’s world, though, the “village” extends beyond immediate family and friends to include a “virtual” community, thanks to social media. Parents easily access groups online; we’re all just a click or comment away from connecting with others 24/7.

In Toledo, so many resources – both on and off-line – are available to children and parents. Having lived on both coasts, I feel fortunate to have landed here six years ago; it is a wonderful place to raise children. When I first arrived, I had a small social network. Then I had a child and all that changed. Friendships were easily formed and my group slowly expanded into a great network of support – an immense advantage, as my closest relative is an eight-hour drive away. While playdates are great, I always feel especially recharged after a girls’ night or morning latte date with my mom-friends. Even a quick one-on-one walk and talk session to air our worries and frustrations makes a world of difference. If you’re a local mom looking for support, to connect, or just to expand your “village,” read on.

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Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo

Members of the local nonprofit organization include moms of newborns, toddlers, and school-aged children. The Mothers’ Center (motherscenter.net) is a place where moms can seek education, create friendships, share experiences, and receive positive reinforcement about their roles as women and parents. Members volunteer in the community, hold Moms’ Night Out events (think yoga, sushi, or game night), host Co-Ed Nights with spouses to attend local sporting events (Go Walleyes!), and of course, organize playdates for kids (i.e. Toddler Time at Sky Zone).

“We meet once a week…to offer ways for moms to find mothers in the same situations,” said Mackenzie Lonsway, member and the head of public relations for Mothers’ Center. There’s also a monthly evening meeting for working moms. “The group is extremely open to different ways of thinking, so it’s nice to be able to go and get advice on something while having other mothers’ support, without judgment. The meetings really help connect members and help start off those important and lasting friendships. When one of us is struggling with sleep deprivation, sickness, or even the joys and stresses of a new baby, our members come together to help make meals and offer any aid we can give them.”

Rochelle Roth, also a member of Mothers’ Center, felt immediately welcomed by the group, and was impressed by the sense of genuine acceptance and support she felt, one that went above and beyond. “When my father-in-law passed away a couple months ago, the group offered to set up a meal train for my family,” Roth said. “One of the ladies I got to know through Mothers’ Center came to my house at 11pm to stay with my girls (Jael, 4, and Rossalyn, 18 months) the night he was rushed to the hospital. I felt so blessed to have met these ladies and have them offer help when my family really needed it.”


PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The virtues of the Mothers’ Center ring true for this mom of now twentysomethings. I met my Toledo Parent News founding partner, Becky Harris, at the Center in 1991 when we both had toddlers. Based on our friendship, established through the Center, we explored different ideas for starting a business and we published our first issue of Toledo Parent in September, 1992. Toledo Parent celebrates 25 years of supplying a forum for information for families in 2017. We are planning to tell the entire story, including our beginnings at the Mothers’ Center, in an anniversary issue next fall.
Collette Jacobs, Publisher


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A “virtual” village: there’s a group for that

Some days, I’m sure all of us moms feel like nothing is easy when it comes to raising a child. I stumbled my way through many issues, both common (ear infections) and uncommon (hip dysplasia) on my journey through motherhood thus far. I’m grateful to have had access to other moms’ advice and support from various online groups. The best thing about virtual villages? You can belong to more than one!

Want to expand your virtual bubble? If you’re a newbie, Babycenter.com, perhaps one of the most popular websites, has a community page with pretty much any topic you can think of. It’s a great resource for any and all questions related to baby. Topics are grouped by name and ranked by popularity, making them easily searchable and accessible.

A personal favorite with over 50k members, First Time Mommy Group on Facebook is an open forum for discussions between moms on topics ranging from how long to do tummy time, how to deal with postpartum depression, tips on making it through baby’s first long flight or road trip, to rants about meddlesome mother-in-laws or those times when your husband just.doesn’t.get.it.

One of the perks of belonging to such a group is being free to air your grievances among people who don’t personally know you (or your family members), but who understand what you’re going through. There really are some great moms out there. And, for the most part, everyone is encouraging and supportive. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone is all you need to get through tantrum #42,795.

If you’re looking for events or ways to connect with local moms, Playgroups & Moms Groups in Toledo Hub on Facebook is a huge message board of events going on in Toledo and surrounding areas. It’s a great destination for moms looking to connect with other local moms and moms’ groups, and posts include events going on in the area. The group’s mantra? “Moms NEED other moms! We need to get out of the house with our kiddos, have adult conversations, meet up with like-minded mommas, and most importantly have some fun!” I like the sound of that!