Facebook mum groups get a lot of flak from a lot of people. It’s easy to see why: between the endless parade of confusing acronyms, the drama over everything from sleep training to vaccinations to fluoride toothpaste, and the cringe-inducing baby butt-rash photos — not to mention the poop pictures (SWEET JESUS, THE POOP. MAKE IT STOP) — there’s a lot to hate on. For a long time I was firmly parked on Team Mum Groups Suck, but I recently had a revelation, and it was this: I actually love them and always have.
Case in point: I’m still in the groups. And if you’re reading this, maybe you are too.
Because they kind of rule. Here are just a few reasons why.
Why Facebook mum groups are actually the best
I’ll take a little online mama drama over the latest episode of The Bachelor any day of the week. Watching in wide-eyed bafflement as total strangers share intimate details of their personal lives (apparently forgetting that a “private group” with a population larger than some small towns can never be truly private), or tear each other apart over whether or not it’s okay to pierce wee Sneauxflayke’s ears, is the ultimate guilty pleasure. Am I horrible for thinking this? Maybe. Does enjoying the drama make me complicit in it, even though I’m not directly participating? Quite possibly. But admit it — you love creeping on those threads too.
Voices of reason
For every armchair diagnostician who’s only too happy to dispense medical advice in response to a posted question, there’s always at least one sane person piping up with a recommendation to contact a real live doctor. While I’d never advocate seeking medical advice on Facebook, at least those who do it in a mums’ group are usually directed to the nearest health professional. I’ve seen this play out positively at least once: in one of my groups, members urged a mum to take her child to a doctor, and when she did, the child was diagnosed with a serious (but still treatable) illness. That’s a huge, life-saving deal. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t posted the question in the first place? Fortunately, there’s always a voice of reason in the mix (and incidentally, sometimes that voice comes from an actual doctor in the group who knows better than to issue diagnoses via Facebook, because some mums are doctors too because FEMINISM).
Facebook mum groups are a great way to crowdsource solutions to life’s little annoyances, like how to remove those practically-welded-on IKEA crib stickers, or how to organize all the crap in the trunk of your car. While, yes, Google is also an option, a lot of the “life hacks” posted online are complete and utter BS. Your mum group friends can help by offering advice based on their own trial and error. Think of it as a curated life hack list where you can ask specific follow-up questions. And if their suggestions don’t solve your problem … just squirt breastmilk on it, or maybe some essential oils. That stuff always works, according to my mum group friends.
Again, I’m not talking about easily Google-able information. Questions like “what time does Costco open tomorrow?” are annoying. But sharing tips and experiences in your local group, with the opportunity to ask clarifying questions, can be invaluable. As an example, during our last election my local group’s members were incredibly helpful in sharing wait times at various polling stations — I can’t tell you how much easier that made timing my trip to the polls with an infant in tow.
It takes a village
Social isolation is on the rise, and we’ll never again see the days when communities gathered together the way they used to. Some might argue that technology is responsible for that — but I’d counter that it can also help alleviate it. Online mum groups are a new way to create the community that many moms lack. Being a new parent can be incredibly isolating, and sometimes it’s tough to get out there and make the connections we so badly need. Facebook mum groups fill that gap by providing a more convenient way for women to reach out to one another. These connections often morph into lasting in-person friendships, and even those that don’t can still be a great source of support for struggling mums. So let’s not look down our noses at those who are lucky enough to find their village in the virtual sphere — it’s a necessary lifeline for many people.
I get it: there are some truly toxic groups out there, and you should absolutely avoid those (except for entertainment purposes, if you’re horrible like me). But I’ve come to realize there are some huge benefits to these groups, and I certainly won’t be leaving mine anytime soon. And given their continued existence, I’m willing to bet you won’t either.
With that in mind, I’d like to propose a toast: here’s to online mum groups — we really do love you, rash pics* and all.
What’s your take on Facebook mum groups? Do you love them, hate them, or love to hate them … and why? Let me know in the comments.
*Not really. Please stop with the rash pics.