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Whether you need advice on how to cope with illness or a parenting catastrophe, or just a funny meme about the challenges of raising kids to brighten your day, these SA parenting communities have got your back.
Thanks to online parenting forums, you're never alone, even if you're a stay-at-home, brand-new or single parent.
There are loads of parenting communities that moms and dads across the world access through the internet, but here, we've brought you a variety of different social media groups where you can connect with other caregivers and parents that are unique to South Africa.
But first - learn how to manage your Facebook notifications from a group, unless you're up for hearing your smartphone beep every time a member posts a new comment or reply
Communities built around geographical area
Inclusive parenting groups
With over 50 000 members, Mamahood Gauteng is one of the biggest online parenting communities in the country. It's a closed group, which means you have to request to join it, but there aren't any barriers to entry (you don't have to meet any criteria), and, once you're in, there's almost no limit to the kind of advice and help you can get from fellow members. The group does allow advertising, but only on certain days, and there are restrictions on the nature of members' posts - no talk of inflammatory issues like abortions or vaccinations is allowed, for example.
There are other Mamahood and similar Facebook groups for moms around the country, so if you're in need of some virtual company, look up your nearest one and ask to join. It'll be a great "sanity check" for you when you've spent too many consecutive hours alone with your little one!
More restricted Facebook moms groups
There are other parenting groups on Facebook that are smaller, more exclusive and free of advertising. They're usually suburb-specific and are invaluable if you're new to an area. The other moms in the group can give references for service providers and local kid-friendly spots, as well as advice on which doctors to take your kids to and info on schools in the area.
These groups are all about local, relevant information and are deliberately kept as small as possible. If you're not one for receiving one notification after another from a bigger parenting group, search out the smaller, more restricted moms group for your suburb and petition to join.
Communities built around a trusted brand
The Facebook page has over 250 000 Likes, and calls itself "South Africa's biggest online parenting community." It's a great and popular space for parents (yes, that's moms AND dads) to chat, enter competitions and get advice on common issues that crop up when you're raising small humans. The website has some handy tools, including gender and child-height predictors, and the Chat section of the site lets you join a forum on a large range of parenting topics, from Relationships to Labour & Birth to Nutrition to Behaviour and, of course, the Holy Grail of parenting, Sleep.
This occupational therapist, parenting expert and author of the BabySense series of books has built a formidable brand around her trusted approach to caring for children. When you Like her Facebook page or join her online Community, you'll have access to regular posts on different parenting aspects, her carefully crafted toolkits, and the opportunity to join one of her webinars, live online Q&A sessions, or Meet Ups. We're a huge fan of the live chat sessions, as they give you a direct line to an experienced expert who can give you hands-on advice on those pressing parenting problems you've been muddling through alone. The Community will also connect you to other parents, and her live Q&As can be a great way to crowdsource advice from others in a similar position to yourself.
Communities built around group activities
Adventure Clubs is where families get connected to planned adventures they can experience with their young children (ages 6 months - 6 years).
This community started as a Facebook group and is now operating in major South African cities. It's an invaluable resource for parents who are tired of planning playdates and are running out of things to do with kids over school holidays. You can even create your own adventure that others can join, you can invite friends to join you on adventures you've chosen, and it's a space where you can interact with fellow parents.
There's now also an app, which is free to download and easy to use and is available for both iOS and Android.
Communities built around expert advice
If you're planning on or are already breastfeeding, this group is an absolute must to join. This is from their Facebook page:
"This group is for any person who is or who will be breastfeeding a baby. A Leader—an experienced breastfeeding mother—helps another mother with questions or concerns about breastfeeding, one mother to another. Our Leaders are experienced breastfeeding mothers who have completed an accreditation program and are familiar with breastfeeding management techniques as well as current research. They offer practical information and moral support to mothers. They are all volunteers:)."
This recently launched website and community aims to give mothers-to-be expert advice and help on one of the most challenging stages of their lives. They offer free-to-download ebooks on pregnancy, and you can follow their Facebook page for their curated content on issues like birthing options, as well as qualify for special offers on pregnancy essentials, such as ante-natal courses.
Did you know? As a Vodacom customer you can get FREE parenting and pregnancy advice and guidance straight to your smartphone? Find out more about Vodacom Siyakha's Mum and Baby service »