To celebrate Moomie’s new partnership with the Change Exchange, Jana Grobbelaar, owner of Moomie, shares her views, insights, and tips of the wonder of motherhood.
Landing that Job
Wonder Woman may be the movie superhero of the year, charging into battle with her shield raised, fighting valiantly in the field of fire in the midst of no-man’s land. But in real life, the true heroes are the moms who boldly raise their kids, battling to find time in their busy day to balance the relentless demands of modern parenting with the stresses and challenges of building a career. Happily, they’ve got lots of help – from each other, in the form of the hugely popular online parenting forum, Moomie. Offering friendly advice on every aspect of being a mom, from pregnancy to relationships to health and well-being, Moomie is the brainchild of Jana, entrepreneur, editor, and mother-of-three.
Where does the name “Moomie” come from?
My brother used to call my mom “moo-mie”. There were several different ways to spell it but I settled on Moomie, since it had a nice feel to it. It’s also super easy to remember!
Please tell us a bit about your family.
My husband is a helicopter and fixed wing pilot. We have three children, aged 8, 5 and 3. Our family isn’t complete without our Boston Terrier dog, who incidentally was the inspiration behind a series of children’s stories I did two years ago. We are very easygoing people and spend a lot of time at home.
What is your personal formula for happy, successful parenting?
Is there one? I believe in play, creativity and imagination for small children. My children don’t watch a lot of television. I encourage them to play outside and also be able to play on their own. Every parent makes mistakes, so I don’t think there is a formula. We all mess up in some or other way and that’s okay. Personally, I think we need to support each other, be more honest about our mistakes and struggles and create room for growth. We need to give each other a break and allow others to do things the way they want to. It doesn’t matter if I believe sweets are bad or if you believe your children must go to bed at 7pm or if you breastfed your baby or not.
What do you love most about change?
Change for me is quite scary but because of my impulsive nature, it’s something I embrace. I don’t think you have to over-think change. We have to be fluid and adapt to change and go for what we want. When you go for what you want, you have to sometimes think and life outside of your box. Change can be difficult, hard, challenging, but change can be beautiful and encourage growth in so many ways. Don’t ever let the fact that you are scared, prevent you from living the life you should.
What is it about being a mom that gives you the greatest joy?
When I can laugh at stuff my children do. When I watch them play in their own imaginary worlds. Having a conversation with my three-year-old. Seeing my five-year-old walk into his classroom by himself. When my eight-year-old creates a whole fashion show out of black garbage bags whilst I had a very elusive Sunday afternoon nap. I like the fun stuff that makes me stand still and go: “aw”. The hugs and kisses and “I love you’s” are a given.
What’s the greatest challenge or frustration of motherhood for you?
Being present. I have so many folders open in my head all the time. I always joke if I was a baby, I’d have colic. I also get overstimulated very quickly. Noises and listening to lots of talking – all at the same time, whilst listening to noise – tire me. Especially in today’s day and age, where we are all addicted to our cell phones, being present, in the moment, without any other input, to listen/talk/watch/play, is my biggest challenge.
How has technology, and the Internet in particular, changed the way parents bring up their children?
If you have a problem, you Google it. You speak to your friends, you WhatsApp your WhatsApp group, you ask advice on Moomie.co.za. We create these communities online and receive support and understanding from strangers who have become friends. We are no longer isolated or alone. That is one of the best things about Moomie. Receiving support from like-minded women, who knows what you are going through and who give you understanding, which the people in your close circle maybe can’t.
What is your big dream or vision for Moomie?
Moomie’s vision has always been to support moms. It’s a safe space, where you can still hide behind a profile if you don’t have the guts to speak openly. For me, the human psyche is very interesting and I love honesty. I love when we can be honest with ourselves and with others. I want Moomie to connect the whole world with support, understanding, love, compassion and allow women to put themselves out there. To be honest and real.
What role can and should fathers play in the broader Moomie community?
Fathers and father-figures are extremely important in children’s lives. I love how dads now hug and kiss and change diapers and are involved in all the mess and drama. Fathers aren’t just there to bring home the bread. They are co-parents, as they should be. Fathers should be involved in all decision-making and aspect of children’s lives. When a mom is supported, she feels more confident and loved.
What is the single scariest change you have made in your life?
When I started Moomie, I had no idea about anything online. I had no knowledge, no experience, I just dove in. I do that with everything in my life. When it comes to buying a house, I just do it. Run a marathon? Just enter and start training. I can’t really point to a single scariest change, because when I fear it, I do it.
What is the biggest and most important lesson you’ve learned from your Moomie community?
How important support is. The moms on Moomie have formed groups that have become life-long friends. I have made friends on Moomie seven years ago that to this day are involved in my life. It has taught me that everyone has struggles. Everyone has a story. Each one of us are going through things and when we let others in, when we talk about it, it makes everything less scary.
What is your own approach to the age-old dilemma of balancing a career with motherhood?
Delegating. It never used to be. I always wanted to do everything on my own. It’s just not possible. I have a team of wonderful people working beside me. They understand the way I work, they know how my mind works, and they just get on with it. Balancing a career with motherhood is hard. With three children, there are a lot of personalities to take into account and to make sure they are all well cared for emotionally as well. They have an amazing dad who is super involved. He baths and dresses and brushes teeth and puts to bed and cuddle and take them on outings. My children are very lucky to have an amazing father.
If there was one device or machine you could invent to make motherhood a little easier, what would it be?
A machine that would give me a few extra hours when they are asleep. This machine must give me the extra hours to get all my work done, the house neat and tidy, everything in order, rejuvenate me with enough sleep so that we all wake up fresh and relaxed with no rush. If I could push it, I would love eight hours sleep again. I have no idea how that feels!
• This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.