The Mummy Project: Linking parents to community

USEFUL: Reena Bilenhas filled a need for parents. Picture: Simone De Peak
USEFUL: Reena Bilenhas filled a need for parents. Picture: Simone De Peak

WHEN Reena Bilen first started her website, The Mummy Project, it was just supposed to be a casual hobby, a creative outlet that also helped other parents.

But almost three years on, it has become something else entirely. The Mummy Project has more than 3000 followers on Facebook, and attracts about 10,000 site visits each month.

"I first had the idea when I was on maternity leave," Bilen says.

"I realised that being at home with a baby was just so different, and because I didn't grow up here, I didn't know where all the good playgrounds were, or what events were happening, or where to go.

"I remember thinking it would be really handy to have a website that had all that information.

"I had all of these ideas, but because I was so busy on maternity leave, it wasn't until I went back to work and then later got made redundant that I thought, 'OK, I am going to do this'."

Shortly after beginning the website, Bilen was offered a role managing online IT systems and writing technical documents for the state government. But each Thursday and Friday when she wasn't working, Bilen would take her daughter on an adventure to explore a different playground, museum, art gallery, activity or local event. Then she would review the experience via her blog.

Now the website has evolved to include articles such as: 100 Fun Family Things To Do This Summer in Newcastle and Surrounds, Rainy Day Survival Guide, and 20 Tips for Balancing Work and Family.

"I never dreamed it would become this big," she says.

"The momentum is building and it's really exciting now."

The Mummy Project has become more than just a go-to for parents looking for things to do with their families.

"The one thing that has really blown me away is this sense of community," Bilen says.

"I've met so many incredible mums in the past couple of years. I am meeting so many people who have come to Newcastle from interstate or different countries and they've found my website.

"Even the readers who are in Newcastle have contacted me to say they hadn't known about certain things, like the Fairy Garden in Broadmeadow, even though it's been there for about 20 years."

Bilen, who lived in the UK until she was 10, and then Canada before moving to Australia as an adult, found running the website a great excuse to spend quality time with her daughter. There are pictures of them on steam trains and camels.

"In a way, it has helped me record the past couple of years with all these different excursions, and it is nice to have that."

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