Chantelle van der Bijl, aka Bloem Momdoc, talks about keeping it real and the importance of having a ‘village’…
Chantelle, the momfluencer and author of the popular Facebook page, Bloem Mom-Doc is as candid and down to-earth as they come. But that’s not all. She is also a doctor specialising in Family Medicine, a mother of two toddlers, wife to her high school sweetheart, Simon, and by all accounts, a friend in a million. Chantelle started Bloem MomDoc some two years ago; within the first week, she had over 1000 followers – it now boasts more than 16 000 followers.
No mean feat for a woman who, during 2020, worked more weekends than she wishes to remember, studied long and hard at becoming a medical specialist, discovered that her four-year old daughter had an immunodeficiency, contracted COVID-19 and meningitis, and lost her beloved dad. She concedes that 2020 was “a terrible year” for her, but that she often reminded herself that it was a bad year “but not a bad life”.
When asked what prompted an already busy woman to start a mother-doctor Facebook blog, she says, “Being a mom, I know the importance of your ‘village’, and of having reliable sources of information when raising kids. Many of my mom friends would ask me for medical advice and I would send them links containing info. Then I thought, why not start a blog to share knowledge and assist a wide audience of moms with sound, evidence based advice?” Chantelle explains, “The Internet is a big place and there aren’t many credible sources of information. Also, I don’t beat about the bush. I say things as they are.”
Chantelle is adamant that she is “not a run-of-the-mill social media influencer, who only shows followers a perfect life. In fact, my Facebook page is not about me. I don’t think my followers want to see this perfect person. I speak honestly and openly about issues, such as my weight and my struggles as a mom, because I believe women should say be able to talk about these things. I’m here to empower them and myself… with sound advice.”
Above all, Chantelle considers her Facebook page a rewarding hobby. “I do this for fun. I’m not affiliated to anybody and I’m not paid by anybody. I’ve got to know amazing moms and have made good connections… and even some good friends. It warms my heart every time I see a like or comment on the page, or a post being shared.”
Another feature of Bloem Mom-Doc that Chantelle relishes is doing product reviews. “I review products in an honest way, and I love doing giveaways. It gives me a kick to help new and unique brands, and to give small businesses exposure, especially mom-driven businesses.” Chantelle knows all about small businesses, as her parents owned their own shop in Petrusville, close to De Aar in the Northern Cape, since they arrived in South Africa from Portugal more than five decades ago.
Chantelle describes her mother as incredibly hardworking, and as her “safe space”. However, she admits that growing up she did not always appreciate her mother. “We fought a lot, as we both have strong personalities, and there was a huge age gap. My mom had me at 40 and my dad was 50 years old when I was born.” Their relationship changed when she became a mother, which Chantelle calls “the hardest job in the world”.
Fortunately, for Chantelle she does not have to do this “job” on her own – she has Simon by her side. They have been together for 17 years – since Grade 9. “Our relationship is strong, although I can see why marriages struggle after there are kids. We have epic fights, but we always find our way back to one another.” According to her, “Simon is a great dad. The kids are his number one priority. He takes so much off my hands and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without him. He is my rock.”
Chantelle’s face softens even further when she talks about “the kids” – Lara, “a ball of energy”, and Alana, who “has a shoe-obsession and loves dinosaurs”. Chantelle reminisces about how she always believed that she would be “a boy mom”. “I was shocked when I had two girls and then I realised that I actually love doing girly things with them. But someone still has to teach me how to do hair!” Apart from having fun with her daughters, Chantelle concludes that she wants to set a great example for her daughters, “as my mother did. I want to show them that they should work hard but always make time to do something fulfilling for themselves.”