2 years ago on the 20th of July I wrote my first post here. I had the vision and the passion, but not the time or the energy, and I had no idea where to start. I tried for a while but after 3 months I admitted defeat, it was all too much for me, so I focused on the writing that I loved and growing my baby and my own business.
Little did I know that the same frustration I faced as a mommy-to-be, trying to become a part of a community and find everything in one place, would rear it’s head on entering mamahood too.
In fact, the loneliness and isolation I felt at moments was completely overwhelming, particularly to a brand new first time mom. And this, even though I had other mommy friends; because trying to find time together to talk was incredibly difficult when we all have kids of different ages and jobs and well, life.
I had found a small community of incredibly precious mommy friends online through this little blog of mine, but the large majority of them were in Joburg; so while the internet brought us closer together, there was still a sense of distance. And when it came to looking for local advice – pediatricians, pharmacies, restaurants, activities to attend with baby, exercise classes, small businesses with niche products – well, you need a local community for that.
And so begins the actual story of today. Two stay-at-home moms, Lizanne Oved and Candice Littleford, had a very similar dream to me and their idea of connecting local mamas in a forum-like set up on Facebook resulted in the birth of the Mamahood groups. And the response was phenomenal, growing to a user base of over 40,000 in one year – they celebrated the Mamahood birthday on 20 June.
Lizanne and Candice have been friends since 2002 and had wanted to work on a project together since meeting as students. Their goal was to do something that allowed them to work from home so they didn’t have to leave their kids; Lizanne has two boys, 4 year old Julian, and one year old Zac, and Candice has a 3 year old named Rocco.
The idea for the groups came about when they were asking each other for advice, talking each other through difficult times, sharing recipe ideas, and sleeping sympathies and breastfeeding support. They recognised the value that having a local support group could provide.
The result is a collection of locally-focused, non-judgemental, safe closed Facebook groups; where moms can vent, ask questions, share experiences, and seek advice about being a mom. Advice and support from somebody who has been there, is heading there or is right there with you, can be invaluable.
I joined the group when the numbers were still low and watched in awe as it just grew and grew. I have to admit I was a little jealous that they had got off the ground with seeming ease, what I had wanted so badly to do, and then had taken it national too! But having tried to do it myself, even briefly, I also had huge respect for how much hard work and time it must take to create, manage and moderate it all.
And then, as if they lived in my brain, they started taking all the mommy suggestions and questions and building databases for all things mommy and baby. The huge amount of effort this must have taken to set up, and now to maintain, is incredible. The business listings on the Facebook groups are for anything mommy, baby and kiddie related.
“We have been working on this for over 6 months. When we started our free business listings on the group, our businesses started sending us their information,” says Lizanne. “We get roughly between 20 – 40 new businesses for the listings every week, and this is for 7 separate areas – which makes it a full time job to maintain.”
And they do it for love, not money! They have yet to make a cent from all the blood, sweat and tears they have put into this project.
Because we have such similar visions, it was an absolute no-brainer when Lizanne approached me to join the Mamahood “team” through trialling and reviewing Mamahood Approved products and services.
The concept behind “Mamahood Approved” is to help support mom-owned businesses and local mommy bloggers. By securing and gaining a Mamahood Stamp of Approval, you are recognised as part of the Mamahood Village and can be trusted as reputable. The goal is that the stamp symbolises a high standard of quality and service.
To get the Mamahood Approval stamp, you have to be a mommy, but your business doesn’t necessarily have to be parent or child related.
The addition of having bloggers review these services allows an additional checkpoint, ensuring that they are living up to the Mamahood promise; and allowing the local bloggers to spread the love of mom-owned businesses to their readers.
The Mamahood village just keeps on expanding, including the addition of Lizanne’s mom Joan who came on to help them manage the increasing amount of work. What was once a general forum that could get incredibly difficult to follow, has been streamlined by the team by creating focused features each day of the week. This has channeled the heaviest conversation flow, leaving more room for mommies needing to share, vent, question or support others.
There are always trouble-makers on the Internet, but those who break the rules in the groups are removed to keep the integrity of the Mamahood ethos of love, security and support.
The Mamahood website launched in July.
“The vision for the site is to create an entire village for ‘everything mommy,” says Lizanne. “We want to create a place where you can feel connected and easily meet new friends, learn new things and easily find a product or service you are needing. When creating Mamahood we did not want to have just another forum or business group, we always planned to have a platform that could connect our moms to the businesses, bloggers and experts first on a local level and then on a larger South African level. It is so challenging being a mom so we want to make a awesome resource which makes life just that little bit easier.”
Sending all the love xx
*Most of the information is out of date as of January 2016 as the rules and how they work are no longer relevant