I’ve heard meeting other prospective mom friends referred to as similar to dating. You see someone at the park (bar) and start up a conversation about your kids (anything but kids) and when naptime (closing time) rolls around, you awkwardly say goodbye and exchange numbers. How awful is that? We are grown women. We are married. We have created life. We do not need to go around awkwardly “dating” each other. That is why I would like to share my experiences and helpful tips about how to find a mom’s group while eliminating some of the awkward “date” scenarios.
I have found three major factors that help ensure a quality group of mamas: Children’s ages, Proximity, and Common Ground. While none of these guarantee BFF status, these components will help get you find a mom’s group and started toward building real and lasting friendships.
Children’s ages: In the first mom’s group I joined, my daughter was far younger than any of the other children by a wide margin. At the time, she was 4 months old and the next youngest child was 18 months. The problem with such a wide spread is that I was invited to many play dates and outings which were inappropriate for my daughter’s age. While attending princess tea parties and puppet shows sounded like a lot of fun, they would have been wasted on a child who was just learning to sit up.
As children get older, the range of compatible ages increases, and families with more than one child may be familiar with finding activities that span a wide age group to help include everyone. However, your best bet is to find a mom’s group with children of a similar age. One helpful tip is to look for groups with titles such as “2013 babies” if your child was born in 2013. This helps ensure that the largest age difference between children would be about 11 months.
Proximity: After learning about the difficulty with ages, I resolved to find a mom’s group in which there was a child close in age to my daughter. I was successful in meeting a mom in a group who has a son only three weeks older than my little girl. This, I thought, was perfect. I had used one of my own helpful tips and was feeling quite successful. By this time, the children were 8-9 months old and us moms had a blast watching them crawl around and enjoy playing outside. Unfortunately, we finally got around to discussing our home locations and found that we live about 25 miles apart. The group meeting place was about halfway between our houses, making it fairly reasonable for each of us. However, we have different local libraries, local parks, and other local events. While it is not impossible to make the drive to the other part of town (and we do!), we are not always able to get together as often as we would like due to distance. Of course, if you live in a more rural area, distance is often going to be more of a consideration than cities and suburbs so the acceptable driving distance will vary based on personal preference. Just remember, if you groan thinking about driving over there, maybe it’s time to reconsider finding a mom’s group in closer proximity.
Common Ground: This is a factor that did not occur to me until much more recently. At first, I was just concerned about finding someone, anyone who I could connect with as an adult. I found some people who were not only nearby, but also there were children within a couple of months of age of my child. Tragically, after multiple group outings, I found that besides the fact that we were all moms, we had very little in common. Sure, we could talk about our children’s milestones, funny stories about inconvenient diaper blowouts, our husbands and their support (or lack thereof), the never ending laundry escapades, mother-in-law drama, sleeping through the night (or not), and pregnancy tales. We could talk about children all day long.
But let me tell you a little secret: I am sick of talking about babies. I take care of a little person all day every day. I do not want to get together with my friends and keep on talking about taking care of babies! Sure, an anecdote here and there is swell, but I want to be an adult and talk about adult things. Surely that is not too much to ask? Unfortunately, in that particular group it was. We didn’t watch the same shows, read the same kinds of books, we didn’t have similar jobs pre-baby, we didn’t have any interests in common aside from children. For me, that’s just not going to work.
So, what helpful tips can I give you to find a mom’s group? Think about your interests pre-baby. Were you crafty? Did you like knitting, quilting, or scrapbooking? Were you nerdy and attending Comicon, watching sci-fi and reading Orson Scott Card? Were you athletic, did you enjoy hiking, biking, or swimming? Did you have a passion for pastries and watch the Food Network? It doesn’t matter what you loved doing, just remember what it was that you enjoyed, that you had a passion for, that made you excited to get out of bed. Once you know what that is, seek out mamas with those same interests. Talk about something besides the tots for once!
Alright, so now you know what you are looking for in a mom’s group. Here are a couple helpful tips on how to actually find a mom’s group:
Take a look at MeetUp This website will help you locate groups that are local to your area. These are not just mom groups, but any group that someone has decided to start. For a small fee, you can also start your own meet up group. The disadvantage of these groups is that anyone can start one, so standard safety precautions are in order.
MOMS Club These groups are all over the world and there may be one near you. Each group has play dates, monthly meetings, and moms’ night out. This is an international organization, so there are dues associated with it. The disadvantage of a group like this is that the only common ground to start with is that you have children.
MOPS/MOMSnext MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers and is a Christian based organization. MOMSnext is for moms of school age children. It also has dues, being an organization. They provide child care for your little ones while you engage in conversation and activities with other moms. The disadvantage for some people is that it is a religious based group and is typically held at a church. If you have a differing religion/beliefs, it may not be a good fit.
Facebook groups are another easy way to find people. There are groups for just about everything under the sun, and if there isn’t one to match your exact needs, you can create one at no cost to you. Getting people to find you may be more difficult, though.
If all else fails, try a Google search. Even if you can’t find exactly the right fit right away, you’ll never meet anyone from your couch. So get up, get out, and find a mom’s group!