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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NOLA Mom Feature - Ashley Bond of NOLA Parent!

My name is Ashley Bond. I am the founder of nolaParent.com, an online resource created to engage and support the local parenting community.

I’m not from here but my husband is and so are my kids. We have two daughters, 4 and 1 and it appears we will be adding a third to our brood come July -- a delightful, yet unexpected surprise.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I took a prenatal yoga class at Wild Lotus (www.wildlotusyoga.com). At the beginning of every class, the instructor would pose a question or thought of the day and invite a conversation. One particular day the question was this:

Does anyone know of any resources or support groups in the city for new, expecting moms? If so, please share with the group.

Dead silence.

So at the end of class, I raised my hand and offered to coordinate a get-together.  I passed around a sheet of paper, collected email addresses and created a Google discussion group called nolaMommies.

We used the discussion group to coordinate activities, commiserate and share information. Within one year, our little group of 15 had grown to over 100.

Clearly there was a need for this type of support network and since we were all asking the same questions and sharing the same information and research about nannies, daycares, schools, resources, etc., it just made sense to create a public, central repository for this great information.

Thus nolaParent was born.

Three years later, nolaParent has over 1000 registered site users, 1500 newsletter subscribers and 1300 Facebook Friends. It is a very vibrant, very engaged community of parents.

My hope for nolaParent is to create a conversation where we learn from each other’s successes and failures. As parents, we are our greatest resources.

One of the most valuable experiences I have had in developing the nolaParent community is that I have come to appreciate other people’s choices and perspectives.

The more our conversations with each other grow, the more understanding and tolerance we have for each other.

It is my hope that nolaParent will be the conduit for these conversations.

Parenting can be a cruel, judgmental, and often times lonely world but if we take the time to listen to each other’s stories and learn from them, we (and our families) benefit.

nolaParent maintains a Resource Directory of relevant local businesses and organizations, an Activities Calendar, a library of articles written by local experts and parents, and a Classifieds section where parents can find local babysitters or sell old baby furniture.

Anyone can list their business for free in the directory (bit.ly/ListYourBusiness) and submit an event to the Activities Calendar (http://bit.ly/ActivitiesCalendar).

I publish a weekly newsletter every Wednesday that highlights upcoming events, fun facts and features new articles written by local experts and parents. You can register for it here: http://bit.ly/WeeklyHighlights

nolaParent also has a very active and engaged Facebook community (http://facebook.com/nolaParent). I’m always posting fun and interesting content to the Facebook page and it is a great way to seek out other parent’s opinions.

I’m a stay-at-home mom with a toddler at school, a baby at home and one on the way. People always ask me how I “do it”.

The only answer that I have is that I love what I do. Developing the site, publishing the newsletter and finding new ways to support our local parenting community brings me joy.

We’ll see just how joyous I feel come July when Baby Bond #3 arrives...

Ashley Bond can be reached at ashley@nolaParent.com.

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