The online opportunity - why virtual Mama Circles tick all the boxes.

Having run many group programs before, I'll admit I was skeptical of how a sisterhood-style bond could be fostered online. Boy, was I in for a shock! It hasn't taken long for me to wish I had been invited to an online circle (or gathering, if 'circle' sounds a bit too hippie) when I had my own baby. Here are a few of my favourite features of online mama circles, starting with convenience and getting to the nitty gritty of deep connection.

1. No travel. For the first 4-6 months of my daughter's life I self-limited to a 12 minute driving radius from my home due to her car-induced hysteria. A no-travel solution would have been ideal.

2. Timing isn't an issue. Why do nappy blowouts always happen just as you're trying to leave home? Noone cares if you're changing a nappy during a video call. You don't have to fuss around with getting nap times to fit your activity schedule either or pack snacks for the big kids ahead of time.

3. Bras optional. I don't need to elaborate here.

4. Screens can be really kind. No one can see that you're wearing that beautiful headscarf because your hair hasn't been washed in weeks. The audio-only option is great too.

5. The mute function. No one can hear you wrangling your kids, and you can hear the person speaking better with your earbuds in than you would while stopping your toddler taking another child's food/toy/book.

6. You can go deep. We are better listeners without the opportunity to butt in. By taking turns at speaking and using the chat function for group comments we can provide one another with support without interrupting the speaker's flow, allowing mums to voice their challenges and successes and find personally meaningful solutions for themselves. We can also skip gossip, competition or "mum shaming" experienced in other environments, and consider our responses more carefully so we tread gently when someone needs our TLC. 

7. Greater group diversity adds depth to the conversation. Health-organised mums groups are often baby-focused in content and held in environments that make it difficult for mums of toddlers, preschoolers or multiples to attend. Online groups are for mums to be together as women riding the highs and lows of motherhood side by side, and having a range of mothering experiences to draw on helps reassure and centre those learning mothering skills for the first time.

8. When you move you don't lose your tribe. Moving during pregnancy and early motherhood can compound isolation and loneliness. It can be comforting for women expecting one or many moves (for example families affected by defence force postings) to know they have their support crew in their pocket.

If you've never tried an online Mama Circle before, now is your chance. I'll be running four free sessions across International Mothering Week (May 4th - 10th) in celebration of your wonderful selves. These will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning, with another on Wednesday afternoon (Sydney time). Spaces are limited to six women per session so get in early!


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