Networking 101 for Moms

Whether you are a newly minted mom, new to your community, or feeling isolated for another reason, you may wonder how to connect with other moms. Parenting in isolation without moral support is lonely and emotionally debilitating. One of the most important ways to take care of yourself (and by extension, your family) is to maintain a thriving social network that provides a healthy dose of physical, mental, and emotional support.

Why support matters.
Isolation can contribute to feelings of depression. According to a Gallup poll, stay-at-home moms are at greater risk for depression than mothers who work. And, PostPartum Support International reports that one in eight women suffers from postpartum depression. Just a short burst of time spent with friends can boost a woman’s oxytocin levels, a natural hormone that decreases stress and anxiety.

Join a mothers’ group.
In the “Better Mom, Better World” research study commissioned on behalf of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International by the Barna Group in 2010, researchers found that mothers believe they are more optimistic and resilient to life’s daily stresses and occasional crises when surrounded by a community of support.

Moms’ groups come in a variety of sizes, philosophies, and commitment levels. From faith-based organizations and moms of multiples’ clubs to attachment parent and stay-at-home-only groups, options abound. Shop around to find a group that fits your personality and parenting style. Visit the group as a guest. Ask the membership director questions like:

How often does the group meet?
Does the group schedule moms-only events?
If mom-only activities are scheduled during the day, is child care provided?
What types of play groups and activities does the group plan?
How does the group support members? (For example, educational speakers? Meals for moms of new babies?)

Billie Carlson, mother of five, is the MomTalk coordinator at First Lutheran Church in downtown Fargo. MomTalk is a non-denominational, Christian-based organization for moms to make connections with other moms. “Being a mom can feel kind of lonely sometimes,” says Carlson. “Our group is a great way for moms to meet and share experiences in raising kids.”

One Dozen Blogs Moms Recommend

My Life in Transition:
www.julia-transition.blogspot.com

Navigating the Mothership:

www.navigatingthemothershipblog.com

Mommy’s Me Time:

www.mommysmetime.com

Little Baby Garvin:

www.littlebabygarvin.blogspot.com

The Messy Art of Parenting Autism:

www.standardprocedures.wordpress.com

The Wise Baby:

www.thewisebaby.com

Dooce:

www.dooce.com

Bursting the Bubble:

www.burstingthebubble8.wordpress.com

The Amazing Trips:

www.theamazingtrips.blogspot.com

Renegade Mothering:

www.renegademothering.com

Momastery:

www.momastery.com

Mommy Shorts:

www.mommyshorts.com

Schedule activities.
Losing yourself in the day-to-day rotation of feedings, naps, baths, and playtime may be fine for a while. However, injecting your calendar with a sprinkling of activities throughout the week—for both you and your child—will energize you, give you something to look forward to, and help you feel connected to the world outside your home. You’ll find one of the best resources for activities in Fargo-Moorhead in the events calendar of this magazine, starting on page 24. Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes offered through Moorhead Community Education are another opportunity to get you and your little ones out of the house and having fun. Dani Wright, Moorhead mother of two, has attended ECFE classes for three years. “ECFE has been a network where I feel strengthened and supported in parenting,” says Wright.

If you work full time, talk to other working moms about meeting up at the park or indoor play area for a short weekend playdate. ECFE holds Saturday classes, too.

Click into social media.
Still in your pj’s at 3:30 in the afternoon after being up all night with your colicky baby or a sick child? During the toughest times of parenthood, we can find comfort knowing others can relate and that we aren’t alone. Thanks to social media like Facebook, Pinterest, MeetUp.com, and mommy blogs, you can click into the land of the living without feeling the need to put clean clothes on or even brush your teeth! Two of Wright’s favorite blogs are Momastery and Mommy Shorts.

Get active.
Schedule time for an exercise class when your spouse is home or join a gym that offers quality child care. Not only are fitness classes a fun way to get in shape, you’ll feel mentally refreshed, more patient, and more positive in general. And the more you go, the more you’ll get to know the other participants, which will make you feel more accountable about showing up. Contact the YMCA of Cass and Clay counties, your local park district, or any number of fitness centers in Fargo-Moorhead.
If a gym is out of the budget, find a friend or two to walk with a few times a week, either around a park, the neighborhood, or a mall on inclement-weather days. As your children grow older, schedule time during or at the end of the walk for them to play at a park or indoor play area.

Share your talents.
You may feel tempted to push your personal interests aside due to overwhelming family demands. Negotiate time with your spouse to pursue your hobbies and other interests. Share your interests by inviting friends to join you for a gardening or cooking class, or to start a book club. Moorhead Community Education offers a variety of adult enrichment classes. Visit their website at: https://communityed.moorheadschools.org.

Create a calendar.
You write everyone else’s appointments on your calendar. Take yourself seriously, too. Honor your personal needs by making appointments with yourself, including fitness classes, walks with friends, moms’ meetings, dinner with a friend, classes you’ve signed up for, and so on. Sure, sometimes a sick child will throw a wrench into your plans, but isn’t flexibility one of the first lessons moms learn? When necessary, share your appointments with your spouse so he isn’t caught unaware.

Christa Melnyk Hines is a freelance journalist, mom of two, and author of Confidently Connected: A Mom’s Guide to a Satisfying Social Life. 

Filed Under: In This IssueLifestyle

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