Chances are, if you’re reading this article as an expectant mom, your post-childbirth social calendar is pretty low on your priority list. Nurturing that life in your womb and delivering a healthy baby take up the biggest amount of your mindshare these days. I know it did for me.
But there will inevitably come a day when you get past those first weeks of survival mode and desire something...well…more. You will find that browsing Facebook while nursing doesn’t cut it, relationally speaking. And if there’s ever a time in life when one needs support and friendship, it is during this stage you are about to enter called new motherhood.
One mistake I made after having my first baby was shying away from any sort of class or group because I thought it needed to be geared toward my son. And what could he participate in? He who slept most of the day, and couldn’t walk, talk, sing or play a sport. It was years later that I realized that those My Gym and music classes that are for “0-6 months” are really primarily for the mom to simply get out of the house and connect with other parents. Oh, I know - the classes support visual and auditory development, but you get the drift, right?
So I encourage you - even now - to begin exploring the options that are out there. You may even be able to participate in some groups now, as a pregnant woman. Think MOPS or prenatal yoga groups. I had one friend that bonded so closely with her prenatal exercise group that they continued meeting after delivering their babies and then formed a playgroup once they were all toddlers. You just never know.
Before I lay out a few options for you to consider, I implore you to take this advice – don’t give up on finding the right group for you. If the first route doesn’t work, try another. And if needed, another. And if needed, yet another. It is so very important to build a support network around yourself as you go through this exciting but equally challenging journey of motherhood. And to the shy woman reading this, I’m speaking to you too! Get yourself out of your comfort zone and just go for it, keeping in mind, you automatically have a tremendous amount in common with these other ladies – pregnancy, childbirth, and life with a newborn. Worried about a conversation starter? You can get ANY mom talking by simply asking, “How did your labor and delivery go?” (Perhaps take a moment to ask what her name is, first though.) With that being said, here are a few options to consider:
Meetup.com – This site offers moms groups who share your interests and demographics. Everything from holistic parenting to stay-at-home-moms to working moms to neighborhood-based playgroups. Simply go to www.meetup.com and type in search term “mom group” plus whatever you’re going for.
Exercise Classes – Check your local gym listings or search online for groups like Fit4Mom or Stroller Strides. There are also an increasing number of prenatal exercise groups like yoga, pilates and barre. Make a point to strike up a conversation before or after class and eventually exchange contact info.
Music and Movement Classes - Think Kindermusik, Music Together, Gymboree and My Gym. This may be more about simply getting out of the house than making true social connections, but a change of atmosphere will be good for both you and baby.
MOPS - MOPS stands for “mothers of preschoolers” but actually caters to every mom from conception through kindergarten. Groups meet regularly, usually at a church, and feature relevant speakers and topics. MOPS meets both a need for parent education and social connection, as there is plenty of opportunity to chat with moms during the meeting. Visit www.mops.org to learn more and find a local group.
Local Neighborhood Groups – I found Red Tricycle to be helpful in directing Seattle area moms to your own local group, based on where you live and what your interests are. Visit http://redtri.com/seattle/moms-club/.
Start Your Own – See a mom out for a walk pushing a stroller? Go stalk her! Just kidding. Sort of. But I do encourage you to strike up as many conversations as you can with moms in your local world – from neighbors to moms at the park to, yes – parents whose walking routes happen to pass by your house. Round up some contact info and start a playgroup.
Also be sure to check out the Support Groups listed under the Referrals and Resources page of Prepare The Nest’s website.