But finding out how to join the quirky clique and meet some gal pals in your neighborhood isn’t as easy as just looking out your front door anymore. Where do you start and how do you know that it’s safe? The groups you spot on Craigslist or other sites — how can you be sure that it’s not just some creeper trying to snag sensitive information about you, or worse?
We tracked down the experts to find out how to discover and manage the secret moms groups in your neighborhood like a #momboss.
According to digital parenting and online community site BabyCenter, which reaches some 48-million parents each month, Facebook Groups is a top tool for modern moms. “That’s where most parents are finding other moms in their area,” says Rebecca Michals, BabyCenter’s global director of community and social media. “And once they find them, it’s how they’re arranging events and keeping in touch.”
To get to the Facebook Groups feature via desktop:
- Choose Home next to your name on the top right of your page.
- Scan down below Shortcuts — it’s listed under Explore.
- Click on Groups, scroll through your options at the top of the page until you land on Parenting.
- At the bottom right of the Facebook app, tap on the ‘More’ tab (could also be called ‘Me’).
You might not see anything that strikes your fancy right away. The top results for me were “Boymom Squad,” (I have a girl…so that’s out) and “Exclusively Pumping Mamas.” My daughter is 16. That would just be weird.
Don’t give up!
In the search bar at the top of the page, type in “moms” and the name of your area or city.
- Go back to the top of the page and choose Groups again.
- Now on the left, you’ll see Filter Results.
- Choose from Any Public, Public, or Closed Groups
- Below that, you’ll see Membership choices.
- Choose Friends’ groups to see all the mommy clubs that your Facebook friends belong to.
You can get more specific with your searches by adding topics like “moms + yoga” or “parenting + allergies.” And remember, there’s even “Secret” Facebook groups that won’t show up in searches. The best way to get invited to those is by asking fellow moms (whom you’ll meet using these very tips) for the skinny on joining.
Lauren Ready, Gannett’s senior digital video producer, found out I was writing this story and sent this note, “I am in Atlanta and mom FB groups are all the rage. Especially for selling used baby gear. It’s location-based, moderators check your location and legitimacy of being a mom (I suppose from photos?) before being allowed into the group.”
On the topic of safety and privacy, “sharenting” via Facebook Groups has become so popular that Facebook has just added new ways to help screen membership requests. This includes Admins setting free-form questions, “for all people who request to join your group and review the answers in the pending member queue.” Admins can now ask up to three open-ended questions. Pending members can type a brief paragraph to answer, and only the admins and moderators will see the responses. This feature is currently only available to Public and Closed groups as a way to weed out potential posers.
“I found my mom group on meetup. There are tons of groups on there for just about anything you can think of. My group also has a secret Facebook [Group] page to keep in touch with each other, but I couldn’t join it until i joined the Meetup group first.”
Meetup touts 33 million members, and 608,000 monthly meetups in 182 countries. Parents & Family is among the top three most popular type of community.
You can either join from a desktop or download an app.
I logged in via Facebook and the app automatically brought up a popular list of meetups near me, including a moms group of trail runners (!) that I signed up for immediately. (I go next week, wish me luck!) I also poked around the desktop site and did a quick search for mom meetups. That took me to a map of nearly 6,000 get-togethers. Just scroll down the page to find mom meetups near you or to see what the rest of the world has going on. You can also use the “Explore” feature to narrow it down even more on topics such as “Outdoors & Adventure,” or “Sports and Fitness.”
Remember Nextdoor? It’s that hyper-local social network where everyone you interact with is actually in your immediate neighborhood. It’s private — so you can only join if you actually live in the neighborhood you’re posting in — and it’s been a great way to meet neighbors and make friends. In my neighborhood, it’s pretty popular for nanny shares and last minute babysitting finders. I’ve used it a ton for everything from pediatrician referrals to finding kids music and sporting gear.
When you join a neighborhood on NextDoor it works almost exactly the same as Facebook. There’s a big wall for people to post on, share stories, ask questions, and meet each other. And because it’s SO locked down and private, you’re free to just ask things like “Any moms want to have a play date this week?” or “My child won’t stop sneezing! Is there a bug going around?”
Slack & more
I heard rumors that some savvy moms are using Slack to organize mom-groups, but I couldn’t find any myself. Other suggestions that popped up when I asked about it on social media included apps like Peanut — which is like Tinder, but for making mom friends — and Smile Mom, which pairs you up with other moms with similar interests and children in the same age range. For sports and events, GroupMe and TeamSnap were the most mentioned go-to’s.
When it comes to raising kids, the old saying “it takes a village” is still spot-on. It’s just now, our village is both global and digital. What new tech resources do you use? Be sure to let us know via comments or email.
*This column originally ran in USA Today’s Smart Life section, where Jennifer is a weekly columnist.*