Support Groups for Moms

By Susie Michelle Cortright

This summer, my car died with my baby and I inside, so I pushed a rickety second-hand stroller nine miles to my mothers' support group. I didn't pack a lunch and the trail snaked deep through an alpine forest - far from the nearest McDonald's - so I raided my child's bag of Cheerios and graham crackers along the way.

When I appeared at the group, a little sweatier than usual, we traded stories about the obstacles we were willing to overcome to meet together each week.

In our industrialized world, children and moms too often stay isolated in their homes. Less industrialized countries, where moms spend more time with other moms, report far fewer cases of postpartum depression. In fact, researchers say women with support networks are at a lower risk for minor ailments, such as colds, as well as more serious conditions, such as heart disease. Experts agree that a support network provides mothers with the opportunity to share ideas, vent frustration, and compare notes.

These groups also provide a connection with the outside world for moms who are feeling cooped up and isolated with a new baby. Monica Jones, a stay-at-home mother of two, says, "Talking to others in similar situations helped me to realize it's okay to feel frazzled, and I shouldn't feel guilty for needing time for myself."

The moms in your group could become your best friends throughout your child's life. These networks also provide opportunities for your child to learn social skills. My infant has a much better day after our mom's group.

Some groups may also provide the opportunity to keep your professional skills sharp, or to serve the community through volunteer work.

Finding an existing Group

Check out local bulletin boards and newspapers for local groups. Or contact national organizations, which may have a local chapter in your area. Your local librarian, pediatrician, or social services office may know about an existing group of moms with children in similar age ranges.

Silvia Brugge is a stay-at-home mother of three who relies on the support of a diverse network of friends. "I think it's important to surround yourself with people who have kids around the same age as your own," she says. "However, I also think it's important to be with other friends whose children are older. I've learned so much from my more experienced friends."

Forming a new group

If a suitable group does not exist in your area, consider starting one of your own. Place an ad in your local newspaper describing yourself as a mother of young children looking to start a playgroup or mom support group.

Once you have more than one recruit, it becomes easier. Word of mouth travels fast, and there may be more home-based moms in your area than you realize. The best places to find people like you are the places you already frequent.

Getting the word out

Post notices in your church or synagogue, grocery store, and post office. Most groups meet once each week for two to three hours. If each mother is a regular, you might want to keep your group at four to five moms. Limiting the number of moms can help assure that you know them and their parenting styles. If one mother has an especially divergent parenting philosophy, she may not be a good match in your group. Look into securing a public meeting space, or simply rotate hosting duties, each week meeting in another member's home.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of More Energy for Moms, a book/workbook that features a revolutionary support community, and Rekindling Your Romance After Kids, as well as the Soul Snacks booklet series, featuring creative ways to nurture yourself and your family in 15 minutes or less. Each of these publications is available through Momscape.com, a website devoted to helping women celebrate and embrace their diverse roles. Visit Susie at: http://www.momscape.com


 
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