She Says… Mommy Groups

Prior to having the baby, I hadn’t given a lot of thought to what I would “do” during my maternity leave. I mean, taking care of a newborn is a full-time job, that I was sure of, so I just didn’t plan to “do” anything else. For someone whose dance card is usually booked weeks in advance, this black hole in my calendar was both scary and exhilarating. As Benjamin and I settle into our new routine with the baby and he begins to take more jobs that will force him to be gone during the day, he thinks it’s important that I plan some activities outside of the house to maintain my sanity. At the moment I am perfectly content to spend every minute focused on little Owen and tending to his needs (because frankly, it’s tough to do anything beyond a short walk with the dog when I only have 1 hour of peace between each feeding). But as Owen’s nursing times stretch longer and I’m able to leave the house more, I see Benjamin’s point that I might really enjoy a bit of social interaction beyond babytalk.

So he suggested I join a “Mommy Group”.

Now, please don’t take this the wrong way if you are in a Mommy Group and love it, but I’m just not sure I’m the Mommy Group type. I hate small talk. I don’t want to sit around and compare babies. I am very picky about who I spend my time with… I find a few close friends and love them dearly, but I don’t enjoy faking relationships for the sake of having a group of women to have lunch with. Call me a grouch; but it’s the truth. That said, when I do find friends who I connect with, they are friends for life. I guess I just wonder if I could get over my preconceived notions about Mommy Groups enough to join one and make a few friends. Mom friends.

Currently I can count my Mom friends on one hand. Since I’m relatively young, I’m the first of most of my friends to have babies. I kind of love this — I don’t feel like just because I have a baby I have to immediately have only Mom friends. However, as Benjamin keeps reminding me, it would be nice to have people to turn to with questions (other than my mom and sister), and people to hang out with who would not mind scheduling around nursing schedules and nap times. Also, since I’m lucky enough to have a few months off from work, I’m going to have a lot of time to kill during the day that I imagine would be way more enjoyable if I spent it going to the park and taking walks with other Moms rather than sitting by myself.

So what’s a new Mom who is nervous about Mommy Groups to do?

There’s a place around Boston that is infamous for having wonderful Mom & baby classes. Almost all of my friends have joined groups there and really enjoyed them. Chances are, I will too… if I just stop focusing on it being a “ladies who lunch” group and more like a class. Anyway, they have several options, from daily playgroup drop-ins (not so useful at this point since Owen is so tiny) to Mom & baby yoga (not so good since I can’t exercise for a few more weeks) and a 6-week long Great Beginnings class. The Great Beginnings class is probably the best option right now (it’s for babies 2-10 weeks old and is run like a class). It’s $180, which seems a little steep for 6 classes, but as Benjamin pointed out, we spent more than that on childbirth classes and breastfeeding classes, and this may be even more important for me if I can make some friends going through similar challenges. They also have a breastfeeding drop-in class, which I think might be very useful as I work towards being able to breastfeed in public (easier said than done!).

I’m going to give it a shot. Wish me luck!

Any thoughts/suggestions before I sign up? For those who have had babies, did you join a Mommy group? Where did you meet Mom friends? For those who have not yet had babies, are you interested in/excited about a Mommy group, or apprehensive?

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22 responses to “She Says… Mommy Groups

  1. I’m the same as you – I don’t really love the idea of mommy groups (probably because I don’t like most women…haha). But also like you, I don’t have any mommy friends, and several people in SF have told me that mom/baby groups are really helpful in finding people who understand what a new mom is going through. Luckily, a lot of them seem to be like the one you’ve found – you can be as active as you want to be, and it’s not all about getting together and comparing baby cuteness. Too bad we’re on separate coasts or we could form our own awesome, non-annoying mom group…

  2. I feel the same way as you about the mommy groups. I’m just not sure…BUT I am the first out of my friends to have a baby and DH’s friends I’m not that close to have older kids. So I dunno. I have a little while to decide since baby isn’t due until November.

  3. I did ‘great beginnings’ with my daughter and my feelings were mixed. There were times when I loved it and times when I was not a fan. We were strongly encouraged to go out for lunch or coffee with our class and I went most times. It was nice to be with people who didn’t care if your child cried or if you needed to nurse. I didn’t agree with a lot of people’s parenting opinions but it was still nice to hear and interact. It was actually almost the opposite of small talk (which I hate). People were really honest and open and shared really deep, profound things. Of my great beginnings class, I only still see one mother/child. Juliet is so comfortable with him and I think it is because they have know each other so long. I took some time off and then went back to classes there. It is great to learn about child development and ways to do promote growth/development in fun, creative projects. Sometimes, I interact with the other moms a lot. Sometimes I just watch Juliet and now Finn play and explore and change. It is really nice to get out of the house. I will say that, at 27, I am much younger than almost every mom in every class. The closest people in age to me are 5 years older. Sorry this comment is so long…I have tons to say about mommy groups, especially around Boston. I also want to join the Somerville Mother’s online group…I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! Good luck!

  4. It’s important to me to find some friends who have children, but not ONLY have friends with children.

    I must admit, I’m a little worried about feeling isolated once Liam gets here and and Rob goes back to work (which won’t be until mid-Oct b/c Rob gets an amazing 6 weeks paid paternity leave!!!).

    I’m taking a prenatal swim class now and I’m very hopeful that I’ll meet at least one person that I’d like to hang out with, even if it’s just doing laps around the zoo with the babies to get in shape!

  5. i’m due in about 6 weeks…a lot of my friends are already moms, but i’m not BIG into just hanging out. i really like my “alone” time at home, so i’m not sure i’m even going to be one that gets together with other moms. however, in my church there is a play day once a week for a couple of hours that i might go to since i know a lot of women from chuch.
    also, the past few months i have been going to le leche league meetings once a month. i’d encourage you to check that out in your area since it’s all about breastfeeding 🙂 i have heard that some groups do play dates as well.
    http://www.llli.org/
    good luck!
    -alli

  6. I’m not too sure about Mommy and Me groups; in fact I wouldnt even know how to go about looking for them around here! I’m pretty good at filling my days (my motto is get out of the house at least 3 times a day and go places). But I’m lucky with tons of friends and family in the immediate area. I was pretty proud of myself for going up to a girl (ie stalking) who lives up the street from me and asking if she wanted to be my “mom friend” this fall since we both are taking a year off from teaching.

  7. My little man is 8 weeks now, and I never thought of joining any mommy groups this early. With his napping & feeding, I’m not sure I would enjoy it… I think it would be more stress than it’s worth for me. Eli is really only awake for about and hour and half to 2 hours at a time, with 20 or 30 minutes of that spent breastfeeding… so by the time we get anywhere out of the house he is just about ready to sleep again. Tough to interact with him when he’s sleeping! I definitely want to join some mom/baby classes when he is older, can stay awake longer and is more scheduled/routine. I think we will both enjoy it more that way!

    One of the most surprising things to me as a new mom is that it is actually difficult (for us) to take baby anywhere… he’s not as portable at this age as we thought he would be. Hopefully that gets better!

  8. I did not join a Mommy Group when Lydia was born because my husband was marginally employed at best and we couldn’t afford it. Instead, I was incredibly fortunate to have some women in my lives who made a point to come over and spend time with me–my doula and another now-very-good friend whose son is six months older than my daughter. I made a point to get together with women in my life who had children, and as a result, a handful of them have become good friends and confidants. I have also learned to make playdates (more like mommy chat dates) with women that I did prenatal classes with, that I work with, etc. Sometimes a friendship blossoms, sometimes not… I have also fallen into a book club that is a group of women I really enjoy, many of whom are parents. I get a lot of Mom support from them, but that’s not the focus of our gatherings.

    Now that Lydia is a toddler, I am actively seeking Parent/Child activities like toddler yoga and music classes, partly for the interaction with other families and partly for structured activities that we can do with her to keep me from getting restless with our play routine and expose her to new environments.

    I would say that outings and social interaction is important both for you AND Owen–we credit our early outings and social time as one of the reasons that Lydia has always been adaptable and relatively calm in new and different settings–but you’re not just limited to Mommy groups that sit around and talk. You’ll find your own niche and it will be wonderful!

  9. I have heard “good things” about the Isis Great Beginnings class. Even if you don’t end up loving it (or making lifetime friends) the least it could do is give you some practice getting out of the house with the little guy, right!? 🙂 And some new experiences to chat with Ben about at the end of the day. I say go for it!

  10. I have never even thought about this. I’m four weeks from my due date and I just assumed I’d be spending my time with my baby. I do have many friends who are moms and at 23 I’m the youngest that I know of!

  11. Good for you! Just think of it as a class – I’ve definitely learned a few useful things in the two sessions I’ve been to so far. The instructor will encourage the group to go out for lunch or get together after the class, and I recommend going once or twice to get to know the other women. If you click with a few of them (or even just one), great. If not, you’ve at least tried a new restaurant! 🙂

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  13. amy anderson

    Kate, I never did the mom group thing but only because I didn’t have time. I wasn’t off long enough to get involved and since most of the classes/meetings happen during the day, it wasn’t an option for me. BUT … I have heard from several ladies, even ones who thought they would hate it, that these groups were a life saver and they are still friends with many of the women so many years later. I just spoke to someone yesterday who was telling me how they have saved her sanity. You will see very soon that the isolation and lonliness (even with an awesome hands on hubby) can be very depressing. Having others close by who can provide insight, advice, a shoulder, whatever could be a huge bonus in your life. I got to the point where I thought if I made one more trip to Target for “something to do” I was going to shoot myself. If I had the luxury of more time, I would certainly join a group. Good luck!

  14. I’m glad you’re giving it a shot.

    Go to the baby group at your local library!

    It’s free. You can sing and read with your baby and then chat with other moms. Or you can just leave when the program is done.

    I’ll try to say this gently: Just because a relationship starts in a mommy group doesn’t mean it will be filled with vapid smalltalk, comparisons of baby benchmarks, and designer strollers.

    You might be fine, but like the above commenter suggested, you might also find very soon that you need a routine, a place to go, something to do, a reason to get out of your pajamas, conversation with an adult, etc. Most likely, a lot of your friends are working during the day. You may feel disconnected from them anyway because you have a baby now. Your relationships with them might shift a bit. You might need to find a new “kind” of person to relate to.

    I hope you don’t need any of that, of course, but I’m glad you’re open to trying things out instead of pooh poohing them.

  15. So, not being a mom…I can’t speak to this, but my job is coordinate such types of classes. Whenever I’ve observed our classes, or talked with women from them, they all seem to be enjoying their kids playing, and the “liked minded” adult interaction that they get during the class (most of our classes are for ages 1.5 and up).

    Also, I find it interesting that you are one of your only friends with a kid. I live in Boise Idaho, and while it’s technically considered a “metro” (ha freaking ha) area, most of my friends HAVE children, and many of them are younger than I (i’m 27). I think it’s a rural vs. city thing. I would LOVE to live in city where I can find women who AREN’T moms yet!

  16. I was stunned to hear that you have to actually pay for childbirth and breastfeeding classes nowadays – or is it just because, in addition to having had my kids over 25 years ago, I live in a Canadian backwater?

  17. I understand your hesitance to attend something that feels like a “club”. When my first daughter was born, I was invited to join an informal group of moms who met a couple of times per month. They primarily had toddlers, but I still enjoyed their company (in a revolving home) and asking questions, seeing what stages were ahead of us, etc. After a few months, we hadn’t clicked very well personally, so I sort of stopped going–one other mom, who had a son the same age as my daughter invited me to play at the park one day. We have been friends ever since–13+years. From that group of about 10 people, I gained a cherished friend for myself, and a constant companion for her son who is an only child–we have traveled together over the years, parented together while our husbands worked their busy seasons (wine industry), etc. I say give it a shot with an open mind, and don’t stop trying. Knowing some other moms at home can be helpful if you need a couple of hours of babysitting, or to borrow something for a trip, etc.

  18. All I’ll say is that most of the people I meet at baby/mommy groups say that they are not mommy group types! It does really help to have a good reason to get out of the house, and the older Owen gets, the more *he* is likely to want to get out of the house. Now Moo is 18 months, there is no way on Earth she’d let me stay in the house all day, but that probably started very early on.

    Here in the UK, antenatal classes tend to be the main place to meet mummy friends. But I’ve also made a lot of local friends, who happen to be mums, online, through blogging and twitter.

    And in both cases, it’s rarely about small talk. It’s about sharing some pretty important experiences and feelings. And getting out all of that mummy chat and child obsession that you really don’t want to submit your child-free friends to!

  19. I too have been pondering mothers’ groups. I did join the Golden Gate Mother’s Group here in SF but so far all I’ve done is read the dozens of posts people write every day – which have just helped me to learn that NOTHING stays the same with babies, just when you think you have it down they change everything up. I used to go to a prenatal yoga class that I LOVED and I’ve wanted to start going to their postnatal classes but so far it hasn’t happened – mostly because I’m taking a grad school class and the Saturday class is when my daughter is sleeping, so I like sleeping then too! But I do plan on joining something, especially when summer ends and all my teacher friends (I’m a teacher too) and my mom (also a teacher) go back to work. I’m sure you’ll post about it when you join one, but let me know what you think… Congrats again on your beautiful baby boy!

  20. Kate,
    Just stumbled on your blog — I have a 2 year-old and am due with baby #2 in two weeks:) I was exactly like you — I hate small talk, and really enjoy my alone time. However, I really benefited from some Mommy and Me classes during my maternity leave. How long are you off? I live in Canada, so we get a full year (I’m a teacher, so I have been lucky enough to time both pregnancies to have 14 months off….woohoo!). Anyhow, I took a Mommy and Me fitness class (step aerobics) and then in the warmer months I took a Strollerfit class. Both were awesome as they forced me out of the house, got me sweating, and I made a great group of new Mommy friends. I totally recommend it! All the best and congrats on your beautiful boy!

  21. I didn’t think I was the mommy group type either, but as Charlotte got older, it became increasingly important to me to find a group of women who were my age, had children my age, were married, and were like-minded about parenting. And honestly, I’m glad I made the effort. It took awhile, and sometimes finding a mom group felt like going on dozens of first dates lol, but it was worth it. I met a couple really great moms, women who challenge me to think about parenting outside the box, who inspire me to try harder when something doesn’t work the first time around, who love my child, who give advice and support and encouragement when I need it and simply listen when I don’t, etc.

    Now that Charlotte’s a little older and I’m more entrenched in my small group, I find that the small talk phase has ended. We have more in common than I do with some of my pre-baby friends and we see each other more often than I see most of my relatives. We talk about everything – sex, marriage, friends, parenting, home ownership, recipes, etc.

    So I totally recommend it. At the very least, give it a try. (Actually, more like four or five tries. It takes awhile to figure out whether or not you like someone enough to keep it up, you know?) If you try it and don’t like it, hey, mom groups aren’t for you. But you never know, you might try it and wish you’d tried it earlier.

  22. I went to a hospital moms’ support group that met once a week when I had my first son, partly because I was looking for reasons to get out of the house, partly because I wanted to learn/share experiences with other new moms, and partly because I was new in town and didn’t have any friends.

    I know all mommy groups are different and not everyone has the same experience, but I have nothing but good things to say about my group. I learned so much that first year – our group was moderated by a nurse so we could ask any questions and if she didn’t know the answer, she would email us later with advice or information. We started a Yahoo group with about 50 members (maybe more) and for the first year or so, we traded all kinds of information, commiserated, and asked each other for advice.

    We planned social get-togethers for our families and got to know each other pretty well. After we stopped going to the hospital group and when the kids got a little bigger we started a couple of play groups (which have been great because our kids have lots of friends to play with). Now people have gotten into their own schedules, had second and even third children, moved away, and gone back to work, so we don’t meet like we used to. But people are still involved in the listserv and it has been a great source of information and support for me.

    Now, almost 4 years later, the group that gets together socially on a regular basis has shrunk to about 6 people, but they are some of the closest friends I’ve ever had (now we often get together without our kids). We still go to the playgroup we started, and both of my sons have a great time with the kids they’ve known since they were born.

    Based on my own experience, I strongly recommend moms’ groups for every new mom, but you need to find one that’s what you want, so you aren’t just making small talk about your kids (there are definitely groups like that – I’m lucky to have found the one I did). It might not be for you, but it might be a great opportunity to make lifelong friends (who have a big thing in common with you), share your experience, and learn as you go!

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