Proactive parents will all know about the class mums’ WhatsApp group – the 24/7 group ‘chat’ on the ubiquitous phone messaging system, in which mums discuss anything from homework to lost items and how much to give kids for the bake sale.
I’m all for it (mostly) – it helps me stay on top of things, and any questions you post on the group are usually answered within seconds. I’m now included in four motherhood WhatsApp groups: two school groups and two groups for the baseball teams my sons play on.
The corners of my mouth did twitch upwards, though, when I found myself discussing these memberships with the working mums at my office – because, if I’m perfectly honest, there’s nothing quite like coming out of a meeting to a phone screen full of 26 messages about head lice.
Or getting home, tired, and hearing…
Ding, ding, ding, ding!
… As messages download about all the homework you haven’t had time to do with your children as you’ve been at work.
I’ve also come to the realisation that it’s an incredibly powerful medium. Just as social media has been at the core of some of the world’s biggest protests, WhatsApp brings parents together in a way that can actually overthrow teachers.
I was talking to V, full-time at my office, and the mother of a little girl. She was looking harassed – a slight flush to her cheeks so I asked her what was wrong.
Her eyebrows snapped together. “It’s the mums in H’s class,” she said. “I’ve got all these messages on my phone about the replacement teacher – they want someone other than the person who’s been chosen.”
She gave a half shrug. “I just think the woman should be given a chance.”
See what I mean? The mums in her WhatsApp group were planning a COUP.
Then there was my chat with A, mother of two boys and currently juggling a new job with a mad dash out of the office at midday to do the school run followed by a full afternoon back at her desk.
“There’s this WhatsApp group,” she told me.
I gave her a knowing smile. I could tell by the way her face had contorted that she was getting a little frustrated with the nature of some of the messages (“My son always forgets to bring things home from school!” “Yeah? Mine too!”; “I’m the first one to arrive for parents-teachers day!” *picture of empty school hall* “Reserve a seat for me!”).
“I got home the other night,” my work colleague A told me, “and there were 58 messages from the class mums – trending tennis coaching.”
Facepalm – but then again, as I’ve come to realise, the Mummies’ WhatsApp group is also incredibly useful, and who wants to be the only mum who has to be sent separate text messages from the virtual motherhood circle (that is, if they remember – I mean, do you live under a rock?).
Peer pressure, I’d say, and the fear you’ll get everything wrong are enough to make most of us get with the programme.