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Social Networks Are the New Neighborhood for Moms

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Have you ever asked your friends to tell you the best play to see or to let you know if Lionel Richie tickets have gone on sale in your town? (Shhh, I'm his biggest fan.)

I have to admit that I am a mom cyber junkie that loves real-time updates as well as the ability to survey women that have been there, done that and bought that using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. On most days, I admit to tweeting, liking, and sharing but I never poke (I just don't get it) and I seldom tag.

Today, if a mom wants to know the best restaurant to visit from her family or friends, she might just tweet her question on Twitter. Or, if another mother is in the early stages of labor she might update her status on Facebook every 5 minutes to get advice or to just keep everyone in her circle informed. Truthfully, I wish I had this option 13 years ago in the delivery room with my first son. I could have used the advice of a mom that had been there and done that and who would have told me to walk around instead of lying down and waiting for my baby boy. Well, 7 hours later and after 4 hours of pushing, the baby arrived and this bright idea hit me: I needed some fans and followers to share some advice.

Mostly, I use Twitter to connect with women that want to specifically talk self-care in motherhood or for those who want to be accountable to someone else so they can take care of themselves. I love asking a group of mothers their recommendations for the best family video games (Dance Central 2 is the most recent pick) or their favorite gifts for teachers because I always learn something that I had never thought of before. Not all mom communities are the same -- I certainly have my favorites -- and your favorite communities may change depending on what stage of motherhood you are in.

Social Networks are an important part of motherhood and for many mothers, it is the new neighborhood. Many moms find it much easier to connect with new friends that have similar cyber interests as well as their own real-life girlfriends on social platforms. What started out as a trendy something-to-do has quickly become a must-do for all women to stay sane when life is quite the opposite. We turn to social media for easy dinner recipes or to blow off steam when things go wrong to an audience that is relatively safe. Moms are too busy to connect over the fence so many of us have pulled out our laptops, tablets and phones to visit with friends. I don't believe that social networking can replace the face-to-face girl time but I will admit that since Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I've connected and communicated with tons of people from high school, college and old neighbors and friends who I'm truly glad to have become reacquainted with.

Megan Calhoun, the founder of one of my favorite social networks called SocialMoms.com said:
"Women, especially mothers, seem to be naturally gifted community builders. The growth of social networking services like Facebook and Twitter has helped them expand beyond physical communities and family. Women can now extend their networks to connect with people they admire, trust, share a connection with or who simply make them laugh. While I'd argue nearly all women crave community and support -- particularly around the challenges of motherhood -- not all women are equally driven to build extensive communities. There is a need to build community, but the trend you're likely referring to is simply that some moms are driven to maintain highly visible, extensive communities and the world of social networking sites and blogs allow them to maintain a high number of relationships in an efficient manner."

Tracy Odell, Executive Vice President of Cafemom.com believes:

"One reason that social networking is important to today's moms is because the real-life support systems that previous generations of moms had have eroded. In the past, mothers lived with family and extended family and had lots of help raising their children. Today, many moms live in more isolated households so being able to go online to get advice or just have another person to talk to is a both a huge help and a sanity saver. We all need a shoulder to lean on and online communities offer that shoulder any time you need it."

So, to help you get started, here are my top 10 social networks for moms:

Babycenter.com: Extensive resource for new moms.

Parentsconnect.com: Wonderful resource for advice, humor, and to make connections.

CafeMoms.com: Tons of great parenting articles and a well-organized community. Smart mom bloggers and exceptional, relevant content.

SocialMoms.com: Great site to build your personal brand online with high integrity opportunities and an extended network of like-minded mothers.

iVillage.com: Great site with excellent content to help women navigate what is most important to them.

Scarymommy.com: This is just downright hilarious.

5MinutesForMom.com: Blogs, articles, and an extensive mom network.

LifetimeMoms.com: This truly entertaining site has videos, games, and more just for moms.

MomsWhoThink.com: A lot of great information with a focus on healthy living for families.

Disneyworldforum.disney.go.com: Because we love Disney and go every year.

And....for a bonus #11 and a little shameless self-promotion:

TimeforMom-Me.com: Mom network that focuses on the importance of and how to practice successful self-care.

If you have been fighting social networking, I encourage you not to knock it before you try it. If you are a veteran, share what your favorite sites are for women and mothers. Enjoy your new neighbors.