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Virtual friends

Without a doubt, it’s crucial to the sanity of mothers everywhere to have other mommy friends they can vent to, ask advice of and compare notes with. But when you find yourself the only mama among your baby-free gal pals, or all your friends with children are sending their “babies” off to college, it might...

Without a doubt, it’s crucial to the sanity of mothers everywhere to have other mommy friends they can vent to, ask advice of and compare notes with. But when you find yourself the only mama among your baby-free gal pals, or all your friends with children are sending their “babies” off to college, it might be necessary to reach beyond your usual circle of friends to find some women who are in the same boat as you.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to fire up your laptop and log on to an online community for moms—a center for moms to connect, debate, advise, support and unite. There are plenty of free communities that only require a simple registration process—usually involving just a username and password—before you’re accepted as a full-fledged member and given complete reign of the site. Once you’ve signed in with your new identity, you can post questions on message boards and add your two cents to the most recent forums.
Depending on the site, you might also choose to join a group, which often hosts special discussions tailored to a particular kind of mom (or dad!). For example, new moms might join a First Timers group, or moms of twins might join a Twice the Fun group. There are groups for stay-at-home moms, parents of children with special needs, step-moms and everyone in between. A quick glance at a website’s group list and you’ll surely find one—or even three or four—groups of other parents with whom you’ll have something in common.
One of our favorite aspects of online communities is their flexibility. You can log on as often and for as long as you’d like. You can chat for hours while your baby naps, or chime in quickly while your baby is temporarily distracted by his favorite toy. Absolutely no planning, diaper bag-packing, car seat-strapping or I’m-running-late-panicking necessary! While foul weather can spoil your plans for a playdate at the park or a sick baby can have you cooped up at home, the sun is always shining on these virtual (germ-free!) playgrounds.
The dozens, even hundreds, of virtual mommy meeting places provide round-the-clock conversation for moms across the world to vent, laugh and share. So when most of LA is snoozing but you’re restless after a 4 a.m. feeding, you can chat with moms who have just begun their day in New York, or mums who are on their lunch break in London—or, of course, the other Angelenos mommies whose slumber has also been interrupted by their resident infants.
Regardless of which sites you visit, what groups you join or how often you participate, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how connected you begin to feel to your e-friends. You’ll enjoy hearing about their day-to-day lives in their online journals and find comfort in their supportive and encouraging comments in response to your posts. Online parenting communities offer an incredible opportunity to new and expecting mommies to share experiences, seek advice and commiserate about the woes of parenting. And they’ll give your hubby/ mother/girlfriend a break from conversations revolving around spit up and baby poop—a win-win situation, indeed.
The number of mom-munities is countless, so we encourage you to surf the web until you find your niche. Here are a few of our favorites to help you get clickin’:
CafeMom
Pour yourself a cup o’ joe and stop by this cozy virtual cafe to catch up with friends via journals, photos and group forums.(cafemom.com)
UrbanBaby
Join in the uninhibited cosmopolitan banter of this site for super chic city slickers who love to talk strollers, nannies and sex.(urbanbaby.com)
Minti
Meet mums and dads across the globe, mate! Sign on to this Australian-based site that strives to connect parents internationally.(minti.com)
Many major social networking sites, such as MySpace, Facebook and Yahoo, also offer mom-related groups that are worth checking out, especially if you already have an account and are familiar with navigating their sites.