We're not going to mince words. The solo dolo doldrums of new motherhood is real. Too real. We'd say it's almost harder to find your #momsquad than to master breastfeeding (which, power to all breastfeeding mamas and your boobs; it's no walk in the park).
This thinking is exactly what drove Michelle Kennedy, the former deputy CEO of European dating app Badoo, to develop Peanut, a social app aimed at platonically connecting mothers who feel isolated, alone, and often cut off from friends and their old lives. It's a pain point for many women (which means, there's a solve). "When you're up for a 2am feed and your friends are just leaving the club, those feelings can compound and you wonder 'What does Michelle the mommy look like? Do I have to change?'” the founder shares. The answer the mom and business woman arrived at was no. You certainly don't have to change. But that doesn't mean you have to feel alone.
Taking what she learned from the dating app space, Michelle applied to the same thinking to motherhood. As a generation armed with a fleet of apps at our disposal, from transportation to shopping, to dating and streaming music, Michelle, who was the first of her friends to give birth in 2013, decided that moms "should be able to have that too." And it didn't have to be through a patronizing or unsexy product. "I really learned a lot from working in the dating industry," she says. Including, a unique understanding of how, why, and when people use social apps. It's why the app includes a poll feature and a scheduling feature, making it easier for moms to meet up-- which is highly encouraged.
The founder says Peanut is not meant as substitution for grabbing coffee with a mom friend in person, but rather, the point is "break down the barriers to make it easier to have the conversation." For Michelle that means any conversation. "Yes, sometimes it is not all roses when you become a mommy and that is OK. It's safe to say that. It won’t make you a bad mom and no one is going to judge you. And sometimes you drop plates and you feel like the worst mom in the world or employee, or partner. Whatever it is we can keep having those conversations and it is all OK."
Peanut is the barrier to entry for many moms who are too anxious to approach strangers in the park. When she became a new mom, Michelle says, "I could never approach those groups of women who looked like they really have it together and like they were all so close. I couldn't put myself out there in case I got turned down. I used to mentally exhaust myself, as I judged them thinking about them judging me."
She recalls a bad experience in a Starbucks when her own son was tiny. She saw a woman who looked like she had it together and so Michelle gathered her courage and asked if they might want to get together. "She then said to me, 'You know what I’m so busy at the moment I don’t want to take your number incase I never get back to you.' I was so traumatized by this. So I thought is there a way to erase all of this and make it easy?"
It's also why Peanut uses the double opt-in model favored by dating apps. "You have to think about a woman and the position she's in and how rejection would feel-- especially if it's her and her child. It's one thing for you to reject me for a date, but if you reject me and my baby, that's a whole different ballgame." Michelle insists that the way Peanut works protects "your dignity and your pride. You can put yourself out there first and swipe right. The other mom will never know unless they swipe right on you too."
Though meeting a mom through an app might initially feel impersonal, it's the way we operate. And in this case, Michelle insists that a picture is worth a thousand words. "If you see another woman's profile, it is never about her picture. You are looking for the clue in her picture. Like is she wearing hiking boots, is that part of who she is, or is she eating food, where is she eating, what is she eating? You are always looking for those social cues, that look and acknowledgment that says 'let's play next to each and play together.'"
She also insists that, "Anything we do on our phones has to be an extension of what we are doing in our every day lives, otherwise we aren’t going to use it." And using it women are. After all, we all get by with a little help from our tech.
Follow Peanut on IG here. Photo credit: Peanut
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