Ashley Rice was all ready to return to work last February, after taking a year off from work. Her resume was ready. She was ready.
Then COVID-19 hit. Schools closed. A Newark mom with a 13-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 4-year-old (with another now on the way) at home, she had to re-focus.
“I held off [looking for a job], thinking it would be over next month or by the end of the summer,” Rice told Technical.ly. “I was waiting for it to get better, and eventually it was like, ‘OK, you don’t know when this is going to get better.'” While thinking of ways to do work at home, she realized that other moms were in the same boat and feeling isolated. That was the problem she decided to solve with a startup.
She started looking for other mothers around Delaware who might be interested in joining her in launching a new online platform for moms. Through social media networking, advertising, and searching for Delaware moms on Instagram, she found nine other mothers to team up with.
“We wanted to make sure that there were moms from all over the state, not just here in Newark,” she said. “Moms from Wilmington, moms from Dover, from Magnolia, Rehoboth Beach — we’re all so different in our daily lives, we want everybody to be represented.”
The site aims to bring local moms — many of whom are navigating a new reality of balancing working at home while kids are in virtual school — together for support and social networking.
“We want to make sure moms know that they’re not alone,” Rice said. “One of the things I’ve been talking about to the moms [who contribute posts] is don’t just do fluffy stuff. Talk about the stuff that’s hard. Talk about the stuff you do quote-unquote ‘bad.'”
She includes herself in that kind of self-reflection.
“I started a post about being a ‘yelling mom,'” she said. “I’m working on that, but the truth is, I yell. And it’s real and that’s life and I’m not alone. Preteens are hard.”
“If a person is living their life and truly trying to be the best mom that they can be, I don’t want anyone to jump down their throats and make them feel like they’re a horrible person for any decision that they’re making,” she said. “If it’s something truly harmful, you try and help. But especially with pregnancy, people can be so judgmental about everything.”
While there are popular mom blogs that do something similar to TheDelawareMoms, it’s the local aspect of it that makes it different, Rice says, especially as some of the big Delaware mom groups of previous decades have gone away: “I think doing it locally changes the dynamic. Eventually we want to connect with each other and do events, but I also think that when you’re trying to figure out the whole schools process and things like that, it’s really helpful to have somebody local to tell you their experience.”
For now, TheDelawareMoms is hoping to draw new moms to the fold, both as readers and contributors — and that includes nonprofessional writers. Rice herself has a background in reporting, though not print: Her last job was a TV reporter for an NBC affiliate in Milwaukee.
The inaugural set of posts, many written by Rice herself, deal with everything from the COVID-19 vaccine process to an online grocery shopping guide to a piece on perinatal depression, as well as a cathartic rant about presidential traffic jams (“No,” Rice says in the post, “it doesn’t compare to the vice presidential traffic jam of the past.”)
She’s also seeking advertisers, as the site has an ad-based business model — but not just any advertisers.
“We’re looking for mom centered ads, things that are useful to us,” she said. “I’m not dealing with the weight loss stuff, none of that. I’m very particular about the advertising.”-30-
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