Thursday, 12 January 2012

Where do you go for advice?

Where do you go?  Every mum has questions, niggles, worries.  Who do you turn to for advice, support, or a reality check?

Every child under 5 in the UK should have a named health visitor.  They're specialists in children's health & development and are trained not to laugh when you ask them daft questions (I should know, I've asked some corkers!)  But the reality is, each health visitor has a big caseload, they've got loads of families to see, and they're only available certain times.  And while some of them are fabulous, they're human, and there can be clashes, or other reasons why they're not always the first port of call.

Our own mums and families?  A generation or two ago, Granny would have been there, on the doorstep, any time night or day.  People move though, I live about 150 miles from my mum, and while she's on the phone, she's got her own life to lead as well, so mums can't always turn to their families for help.

Local Mums?  Mum & baby groups can be a huge source of support, and coffee!  They're not for everyone, and they're not everywhere, but groups can fill the gaps left by moving away from family.

Where does the 21st century mum go, then?  Here's a clue... you're doing it right now.

The Toddler Census revealed that an amazing 80% of new mums turn to google, facebook, and online forums for parenting advice!  That's incredible!  Sites such as Netmums & Mumsnet have a wealth of reference materials as well as advice forums, chat (and a bit of gossip), it's just a case of finding the site that best fits your personality, or preferred amount of swearing!

There's a few differences among us, though.  71 % of older mums (like me. I'm ancient) - those over 35 - were likely to turn to the internet for advice, but more under 25's use Facebook for their queries than any other group (15%, the average a mere 9%).

I'm not sure what turning to Facebook really entails - and that interpretation could well apply to the answers in the census too - does a status update of "Oh For Goodness Sake child, SLEEP!" constitute seeking advice, or is it just venting?  Depends on whether you get answers, I guess!

Apparently 75% of Southampton mums turn to their own friends & family for support, while 47% of their Plymouth sisters turn to forums.  21% of Brighton mums seek help from their Facebook friends, and 10% of London mums rely on YouTube.  And apparently that's not relying on YouTube for videos of the Tombliboos brushing their teeth, Mr Bloom singing Meet The Veggies, or a cat falling off a washing machine.

So, tell me.  Who do you speak to?  Me?  A little bit of all of them.  I work with a couple of Health Visitors, even though they're not my daughter's named HV, so I do ask them.  I ask my mum, my mummy friends that go to the same groups as me, forums, blogs, parenting books, magazines.  There's plenty of advice out there, just find the ones that fit you.

More info can be found at  pop along, they're lovely!

Cow & Gate Growing Up Milk are sponsoring me to attend the CybHer conference in May 2012.  The statistical data in this post came from The Toddler Census, a questionnaire answered by over 1000 parents in July 2011.

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