It’s 2018 and many Aussie mums are part of online parenting groups. Nikki McCahon and Haley Finlayson, both 31 and mums of toddlers, are no exception.
In fact, in their first few months of parenthood, they started their own online Facebook mothers group: Mama Tribe.
The group, which was started just over a year ago, now includes over 30,000 mothers – and has 50 satellite groups across Australia.
As Nikki explains, it all started one afternoon when she was told that her 10-week-old baby was “too old” to attend the local, council-run mothers’ group.
“Apparently, you’re supposed to sign up at birth and you go through the journey together. That’s not an uncommon experience as resources are limited,” Nikki explains.
With that option for support unavailable, Nikki was determined to find another way to connect with mums in her situation.
“I just found it so isolating at home. Going from full-time work to parenthood was intense. And the strangest thing was, I didn’t hear anyone talk about it.”
Nikki realised her friend, Haley, was in the same position.
“There was no ‘village’ around us,” Nikki recalls, referring to the common saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’
“One day in my kitchen we realised we can’t be the only ones – there must be a lot of mothers alone out there.”
Together, the women decided to build Mama Tribe on Facebook.
“We created the Facebook group on a Friday afternoon. By the end of the weekend, 1000 mums had joined.”
Mama Tribe has a very clear mission: to connect mums face-to-face for support.
“It’s a way for local mums to find and meet each other. We connect them, then they usually make their own satellite group, which we administer, and they host their own meet-ups,” Nikki explains.
The MT motto is “No mum left behind” because Nikki and Haley know from their own experience that being with other mothers is the best support a new mum can have.
“The most satisfying part is that we get a lot of really lovely stories from mums who’ve made great connections, not only with each other, but their kids and their husbands are friends, too,” Nikki says.
“It’s so satisfying to know we’ve made a difference.”
The group has grown so large, and is so successful, that Nikki was asked by Facebook to take part in Facebook Australia’s very first Community Leaders Connect event which was held in Sydney last week. The event aims to recognise and celebrate the contribution group leaders make to Australian communities.
For Nikki, it was the ultimate experience to represent Mama Tribe.
“There were so many group leaders, and we had so much to learn from each other. We were all from very different groups, but we have the same purpose; connecting people so they can feel less alone.”