With the kids back at school, mums and dads will again be chatting at the school gate at pick-up time.
But don’t bother swapping parental tips; it appears the internet has replaced mothers’ wisdom and is the go-to for family advice.
New research has found that eight in 10 mums are more likely to log on than go to their own mums for parenting advice, turning to parenting websites such as Netmums, Mumsnet, Google and Facebook rather than taking advantage of their mum’s hard-earned parenting experience.
Surprisingly, it’s not just young mums who rely on the internet for family advice – the Growingupmilkinfo.com study found that 71 per cent of mothers over the age of 35 were most likely to search for parenting advice on the computer.
However, the social network savvy under-25s were the biggest Facebook users for parenting queries (15 per cent versus a 9 per cent national average).
Psychologist Dr Richard Woolfson points out that popular forums such as Mumsnet and Netmums are a key advice resource for new mums, while a third of mums (33 per cent) head to Google for parenting advice.
He says such internet use is good because it means parents have immediate access to valuable advice, exactly when they need it.
“Unfortunately, that also means the traditional source of parenting support – from grandma and grandpa – is less popular,” he says.
This is partly due to the younger generations moving further away from where they grew up, so parents and grandparents are less likely to live around the corner.
“Thirty years ago your family probably would’ve lived in the next street, but now they might live on the other side of the country, Dr Woolfson says.
“Yet I still tell new parents to ask granny and grandpa for their advice. you don’t have to take it but there’s no harm in listening.”
Siobhan Freegard, founder of Netmums, points out that six out of 10 mothers don’t live near their own mums.
“In the past everyone lived near each other and all learned from each other, so parenting was passed on in the same way that cooking skills were passed on, simply by being around other people with babies,” she says.
“But these days we don’t tend to live near our mums, and that fragmentation of society has happened almost parallel with the growth of the internet – when one door closes, another opens, and it has given us an alternative.
“The internet is never going to replace having somebody who can hold your baby while you go for a shower, but it does give you this village you can turn to.”
She says that sometimes your mother’s advice might be a little outdated, and new mums may not agree with it.
“It’s so emotional arguing about parenting with your mum,” she says.
“She’s your mum and she should know what good parenting is all about – it’s very emotional to not agree with her.
“But by going online you can find people who feel the same way as you – it might be a minority, but just finding them gives you the confidence to parent in your own way.
“It isn’t instead of using your instinct; it encourages you to use your instinct.”
She says the internet gives mothers access to thousands of mums on forums, instead of the few they could meet in their local community.
“It helps you feel like you’re not on your own,” she says.
Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, says that because families aren’t always around the corner any more, websites make parents’ lives easier, by providing a place where they can talk, get support and make friends.
“They help parents access the advice and opinions of many thousands of others who’ve been there, done that and bought the puree-stained t-shirt,” she says.
“None of us are trained for this parenting business, and it’s a huge help to know you’re not alone and have an army of big sisters available at a click of a button.”
However, Fleur Dorrell, head of faith and policy at Mothers’ Union, stresses: “Mothers’ Union doesn’t think it should be an either-or situation, as all advice sought is preferably a combination of various sources on and offline.
“Young parents undoubtedly enjoy time for real chats with their mum, family and friends as much as they do talking on the phone, texting, emailing or going on Facebook.”
She points out that while family members often don’t live near each other these days, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.
“Nor that advice given less often isn’t as significant as a Google search,” she says.
“It’s quality, not quantity.”