Social networking sites are popping up left and right to help mothers connect, find playdates and just plain socialize. One of the newest is Mom Meet Mom, which aims to take the awkwardness out of "dating" other mothers.
"Becoming a mother, especially for the first time, is hard, and without the right support system in place, it can be incredibly isolating. We tried different ways of meeting mothers like mothers' groups and chatting on the playground, but found that even when everything was supposed to be perfect, it could still be very awkward," says Mom Meet Mom co-founder Meg Gerritson.
Users of the free website answer questions about themselves and their families so they can be matched with other users based on things like shared interests, parenting styles, family challenges or kids' ages.
"We operate very much like the high-profile dating sites. But if a user wants to be proactive, she can use the MomFinder to search for friends based on the criteria most important to her at that moment. And users who want to build their networks quickly are why we launched our newest feature, Socials, which offers users a chance to browse or list their own group playdates, workouts, nights out, community events and more."
Gerritson says Mom Meet Mom helps mothers deal with the challenge of trying to stay social when their kids get older and life gets busier.
"Scheduling conflicts, work-life balance, raising kids as a single parent or coping with autism, childhood diabetes, food allergies or other childhood health concerns make meeting and keeping friends hard. Mom Meet Mom helps people stay social and find the support and community they need to really enjoy the experience of motherhood," Gerritson says.
About 40,000 moms from all 50 states are actively using Mom Meet Mom, and hundreds more join daily.
Moms are making connections on other sites, including Meetup, which brings together people with similar interests, from Spanish speakers to social introverts. Users just complete a profile and look for Meetups in their area using keywords. For example, in Ankeny, Iowa, the Ankeny Area Moms Meetup Group has about 100 members and includes working mothers, stay-at home moms, and those who do some of both.
"After moving here from St. Louis, I didn't know anyone," says Jen Chalstrom, an Ankeny Area Moms Meetup Group member. "So I searched on Meetup.com and found a local moms group. It's been a lifesaver for me and my 3-year-old son. We've met so many people through the playdates and events organized by the group, and I've made some great friends."
Other social tools get moms together before baby even arrives. Preggieapp.com, a free mobile app, starts as a way for pregnant women to connect with others and to get their prenatal questions answered. Then it morphs into a way to learn about baby care and to join scheduled playdates, picnics and more.