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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Our Story: How Our Parenting Digital Platform Was Developed


I created this video yesterday and it got me reminiscing about how our parenting digital platform came to be.

I have been blogging a lot about enrichment centers, products, educational news and events. Today, I will take a step back and tell you about our story instead.

You are reading this because you are on my parenting blog - The Parenting Times. This blog was started way back in 2004. At the time, I started it as a personal blog. My firstborn was just a baby then and my second not born yet. At the time, I called it "Mumsgather" because I thought it would be a good place for mums to gather to chat as was popular during the old blogging days. The name stuck and I became known as MG among my online blogging friends. Many of them still call me MG to this day.

Two years into blogging, everyone told me that it was better to get a dotcom for my blog and so I did. I called my dotcom Mumsgather too for lack of a better idea, but I didn't have the heart to delete this first blog, so I changed the name to "Parenting Times" and kept it. I'm glad I did because it continues to be my favourite place to blog though I have several other blogs including my personal dotcom.

As my children grew and by the time they were ready for school, I had accumulated so many articles about my dilemma as a banana mom trying to send her kids to Chinese School. So much so, that I wrote an ebook. It's called "Banana Mom's Guide To Preparing For Chinese School"

However, that was not enough. I didn't have anyone to ask when I had problems as they started schooling. I wished I had a platform to ask other parents about how to register my child for school, where and what type of school bags to buy, co-curricular activities, school holidays, exams and even homework help. So I started a group and invited 50 of my blogger friends to join my group. The group is called the Malaysia Primary and Secondary School Parents On Facebook. The parents in the group are really helpful. Sometimes you get an answer almost instantly when you ask a question, almost faster than Google Search. You also get many view points. It is much better than picking up the phone or texting your query to 10 friends in those days before Whatsapp.

It seemed that I was not the only one that wished I had a place to go to for school and education related discussion. Soon the group grew and grew. It grew till the secondary school parents wanted to have another group to discuss their own issues. So we split the group, renamed it and created the Malaysia Secondary School Parents on Facebook group.

It grew till there were so many people selling their second hand school workbooks that we had to start another group just for trading in preloved school related items without spamming our main group. Not everyone wants to buy or sell stuff and it was getting too distracting. Our trading group is called the Malaysia Market For Children Preloved and Educational Items.

It grew till we needed another place to nurture ourselves instead of talking about school and kids all the time. We parents need a positive place to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our loved ones better. That's why Happy Mom Happy Dad was created.

When the group grew, our bigger numbers also meant that it was easier for us to get all sorts of deals, giveaways and discounts for our members. We have managed to get free parenting talks, story telling session for kids, free workshops for kids, discounts for books, free tickets to shows and events and more.

Along the way, I started Mumsgather Finds, the website to list workshops, enrichment classes, school holiday programmes etc. to make it easier for parents to find. I like to create printables like calendars, subject references etc so now I have a place to store them digitally for sharing with website members. By linking Mumsgather Finds to this blog and the Facebook pages,  we became a complete digital parenting platform. We are also on Facebook (page), Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and Twitter including about 4000 website subscribers who subscribe to weekly updates on group happenings.

To address some of the most frequently asked questions including search for tutors, transporters, day care etc, I started the Parents Helping Parents Forum to group the topics together so they won't spam up our wall as they would from being asked almost daily by members. I do weekly updates for those on the Facebook group wall so they continue to reach out to all parents in a more organized manner. Grouping them also makes it more easily searchable for example, in our transport forum, we group topics according to schools so both parent or transporter can find each other more easily.

There were so many members searching for test papers so why not share them with each other, and that was how the test papers bank was started. It is password protected for members only and free for members to download for personal use. Currently we have over 1000 test papers shared by 400 parents.

The latest initiative is the Exchanges and Giveaways forum. I dream that it would be a place for parents to exchange stuff to save space and money and for parents to donate stuff so that parents who need them can go and search for them there. That idea is starting rather slowly. I have learned along the way that not all projects or ideas work and some may need to be shelved re looked into but it should not stop us from dreaming.

Everything starts with a dream. Dreams may not happen overnight and may require lots of hard work to realize. With a little bit of dreaming and lots of hard work, today, our group of 50 has grown to 38000 members. Our parenting platform now consist of a website, 4 Facebook groups, a forum and a parenting blog.

To our blog readers, Facebook members, website subscribers, forum participants, thank you.
Thank you for your support!


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