Mommies are everywhere online.  Between BabyCenter, Babble and Mommy Bloggers, moms across the globe share secrets for everything from how to get infants to sleep through the night to how to parent those terrible twos and teens alike.

Why do so many moms carve out a community online?  A recent study linking maternal happiness and blogging might provide one answer.

Exploring the Transition to Parenthood

Brandon McDaniel, a Ph.D. student at Pennsylvania State University’s Human Development and Family Studies department, developed and wrote the study exploring the relationship between media and maternal happiness.

“While I was studying at Brigham Young, I got really interested in the transition into parenthood in general,” McDaniel says.  “I started looking at couples transitioning to having a child and all the stress that takes place with that.”

After the birth of his daughter, McDaniel says his wife, Jalisa McDaniel, started a blog as a way to express herself while also being a stay-at-home mom.  McDaniel began to wonder what kind of effect blogging had on new moms, inspiring him to conduct this study.

McDaniel designed the study to examine how blogging impacts maternal well-being.  He studied 157 new mothers with Internet access at home who were, on average, 27 years old with infants between 7 and 8 months old.  Most of the mothers were Caucasian and college graduates, and half of the mothers worked outside the home.

The frequency of blogging predicted feelings of connection to friends and family and, in turn, greater feelings of social support. These feelings snowballed into happiness and less marital conflict, stress and depression.

Blogging Moms Are Happier Moms

The study showed that mothers who blogged felt more connected to their extended family and friends, McDaniel says. Most of the mothers in the study said they blogged to document their children and to stay in touch with family and friends.  The mothers in the sample used the computer for three hours a day on average. The only activities that exceeded computer time were child care and sleeping.

The findings suggested that the frequency of blogging predicted feelings of connection to friends and family and, in turn, greater feelings of social support.  McDaniel says these feelings of support snowballed into happiness and less marital conflict, stress and depression.

Blogging as Social Support

Jill Smokler, the author behind Scary Mommy, lives in Baltimore and says blogging contributes to her happiness because it helped her create a community of like-minded mothers.

“I think is has become very much a sort of a virtual playgroup,” Smokler says. “We are all dealing with the kid who doesn’t want to go to school, the kid who should be potty trained but isn’t.  We’re all the same and [parents should not] worry about trying to be the perfect parent.  I don’t think that parent exists.”

Smokler says she started her blog as a way to chronicle her children’s lives, but soon she found herself connecting with moms and building relationships.

“It became clear to me there was more of a community than I thought,” she says.  “My wheels started turning about how this could become more than just about our kids.”

Sunday Stilwell, from Owings Mill, writes Adventures in Extreme Parenthood about life with her two sons, both on the severe end of the autism spectrum.  Stilwell says she started her blog as a way to find humor in everyday life and fell into a community of bloggers also parenting special needs children.  Stilwell says blogging contributes to her happiness because she doesn’t feel alone in motherhood. “It’s okay to say you’re struggling.”

Like Smokler, Stilwell says blogging helped her establish a community of support and gave her the opportunity to be a source of support for other parents with special needs children.

“At least weekly I get emails and Facebook messages from people saying, 'My sister’s son was just diagnosed with autism.  What do I do?’” Stilwell says.  “I answer every single one of those emails.”

Tell It Like It Is

Bloggers Julianna Miner and Kristin Keppler from Fairfax blog at Rants from Mommyland, where they share their humorous and honest adventures in parenting under the pen names Lydia and Kate.  They explain the blogging community provides an important source of support not only for themselves, but also for their readers.

“The impetus was unhappiness with both of us,” Miner says. “We were both really having a hard time dealing with the pressures of motherhood although we were at different points.”

What began as emails to each other turned into a blog that aims at writing about motherhood with honesty, sincerity and humor, Keppler says. “Our tenet was, if we were going to write about it, we were going to write about it how it really was.”

While blogging serves as a form of social support, the bloggers also say it provides them with an outlet.  Blogging allows Miner to share the frustrations and joys of motherhood.

“A lot of the things that really bothered us, we’ve both managed to work through.You have to sit down and think about it and give it a beginning, middle and end.  In doing so, you work forward to resolve that problem or issue.”

While the bloggers say they write about the struggles of parenting, they also write to share all those funny moments. Smokler says blogging helped her see the humor in motherhood.

“I see things with a sense of humor that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Instead of freaking out I can laugh at it.” She thinks mothers bond through blogging because new moms spend so much time alone. “Being a new mom is so incredibly lonely and isolating,” Miner says.

Blogging provides mothers with a sense of camaraderie and a validation through the shared experience of raising children.  All mothers can relate to taking care of sick children, feeling alone and dealing with tantrums, Stilwell says. “I feel we are all really lucky to have our village be blogging.”

In addition to giving and receiving support, the blogging community has given her the opportunity to spearhead and participate in movements to benefit children in need.

“Blogging gave me that platform and that confidence,” Stilwell says.  “It really is a sisterhood.”

The Negative Side of Blogging

According to Stilwell, although blogging provides a way for mothers to give and receive support, blogging can be negative when moms feel excluded. “I feel like blogging can almost at times become cliquish,” she says. “There’s no drama like blogger drama.  It is fierce.”

Keppler says she and Miner work to foster a supportive community where moms can laugh together and be a support to each other.“We don’t let the judgment happen. [Our blog] is a happy place, it’s goofy and silly.”

While McDaniel's study did not cover attitudes about competition and comparisons, the research suggests that blogging provides more positives than negatives. He says, “Those things might be happening but what’s interesting is that even if those things are happening, there is still some sort of relationship between blogging and their feelings of connection towards family and friends.”

Creating a Community Online

McDaniel says his study is an exploratory study into maternal happiness and blogging, and he plans to continue to research media and family life. “We can’t definitively say blogging caused all this, but right now the evidence seems to support that idea.”

For moms looking to start a blog and find a virtual community, Smokler suggests that moms seek out other like-minded mothers. “Find the people who you relate to, and read sites you appreciate and build your own community of supportive people who get you.”

Keppler says she hopes moms who blog find support within the blogging community.

“Find the funny, always find the funny.”  “Write what you know, write what’s honest.”


Sarah Bagley is a writer and blogger (sarahrosemary.com) living in Vienna with her toddler, husband and garbage-eating dog.