App lets moms make the jump from online to real-life connections

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App lets moms make the jump from online to real-life connections

Helping moms make the jump from connecting through social media to meeting in real life is the goal of a new app being promoted on a cross-country tour that made a pair of stops in Calgary.

"They see the other moms who live nearby with kids the same age, they see the age of the kids, if it's a girl or a boy, and how many kids they have," said Audrey Poulin, founder and CEO of Social.mom.

"And the goal is for them to connect with each other, to create events, to take a walk, have a coffee or organize something bigger with other moms around them. The idea is not to stay behind the screen but to connect with other moms, be face-to-face and talk about real stuff."

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Poulin and husband David are crossing the country in a 35-foot pink RV dubbed the Mom-Mobile, helping moms in major cities set up events.

Dozens of moms and kids turned up at the Riley Park playground on Monday, including Nicole Mihaljevich and her own three children.

She says it's important for moms to socialize just as much as youngsters.  

"I do find it hard sometimes to find people with the same age kids," Mihaljevich told CBC News. "But when I have found people, I've really enjoyed connecting with them and being able to go out and do something with my kids but also have someone to talk to."

Mihaljevich said loneliness can be a issue for some new moms, particularly if their peer group doesn't also have children.

"Especially when you have a new baby, because the first few months are so important, so you spend it inside trying to figure things out then after a while it clicks and you're like, 'I need someone to talk to,' or 'I need to get out of the house' and it's a lot easier when you have a friend," she said. 

Poulin said the idea for the app came after experiencing loneliness and depression during her own maternity leave.

"A lot of moms feel lonely, but we are so connected on social media, we think we are connected and everything is fine, but we never know when a mom is feeling bad behind the screen," she said.

"The proverb says 'it takes a village to raise a child,' well, we want to re-create that so moms can meet with each other. That's what helped me when I needed it, to connect with other moms to realize they struggle with the same things I was."

The app is currently just for moms but plans are in the works to launch a similar app for dads down the road, said Poulin.