The Best Thing I Did as a New MomAs new moms we're faced with countless choices and decisions to make. Formula versus breastfeeding, co-sleeping versus crying it out, stay at home or go back to work. Making these decisions usually comes with a lot of inner turmoil, back-and-forth discussions with out partners, and maybe even sleepless nights. But eventually these decisions work themselves out, even if it takes a little hard work to get there. There is one decision I made shortly after becoming a new mom, though, that was the easiest, best thing I ever decided to do, and that was to join a moms' group.
Soon after my first was born, I decided to leave my job for a few months to spend the first year of my daughter's life with her at home -- a decision that was hard to come by but one I was sure would leave me feeling happy and content. Soon, though, I started to feel lonely and isolated. While my sister and two sisters-in-law had all had babies in the last year, none of my close girlfriends had and I was sort of left feeling a bit empty handed in the social realm, even though my hands were quite full. My girlfriends were still enjoying happy hour, weekend jaunts away to Palm Springs, and fun-filled girls' nights where they laughed the night away. I stood off in the diaper-filled corner raising my hand saying, "Hey guys, what about me?"
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When my daughter was about 10 months old I took matters into my own hands and joined a baby dance class through our local parks and recreations office. While it wasn't quite the type of dancing I had in mind, at least it would get us both out of the house and give us a break from staring at each other playing peek-a-boo all day.
Within a couple of classes I noticed that some of the other moms seemed to know each other. They were talking about play dates and what they did last week and their plans for getting together the next day. I was intrigued, and a bit jealous that I hadn't been invited to the party. So I pulled one of those ladies aside, the one that looked the friendliest, and simply asked "How do you all know each other?" Simple as that.
It turns out, another mom in the area had been feeling like me, isolated, a little lonely and perplexed at this new role of motherhood, and so decided to take matters into her own hands and started a local moms' group. If I recall correctly she formed an online group through Yahoo so that everyone could chat and arrange events easily in that forum, but she spread the news of the group simply by word of mouth. I think she even passed out flyers. Now, we don't live in a small town; it's actually a rather large city and the fact that this courageous mom didn't let the idea of getting to know complete strangers daunt her was quite miraculous to me, so I had to learn more. Turns out the group was still fairly new and growing, and was proudly accepting new members. I believe I was member #50, and 7 years later the group has hundreds of members.
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After my daughter turned 1, I ended up going back to work, but I did my best to stay active in the group. I hosted play dates on my days off and the weekends for those of us working moms, I brought meals to new mommies having their second child, and I contributed to the online discussion boards as much as I could. Even though I had returned to work and had that adult human connection again, in those short months I got to know other moms I realized that I greatly needed that special connection you can only get with another mom. A woman who's been in the trenches, who feels your pain and your joy and can relate to you when you say you have nothing to wear because all your clothes have baby food on them.
It's been 7 years since I joined that moms' group and I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that many of those women I met in those first few months are some of my closest and dearest friends. Out of the hundreds, several of us have made more intimate connections and built smaller groups that still see each other on a regular basis. There's a group of 5 of us that make it a point to get together on a monthly basis without the kids so we can talk and actually listen. Last week I brought fresh peach pie to our monthly get together and we almost ate the entire thing. We laughed and cried until almost midnight, even though one of us (me) is 36 weeks pregnant and the other just had a baby 3 weeks ago.
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So while many decisions you'll face as a new mom are hard and daunting and stressful to make, there is one I can assure you is easy. Get out there, don't be shy, meet someone new, join a moms' group, start a moms' group, build friendships. Because those friendships will mean everything to you during each stage of motherhood. I can promise you that.
Here are 5 tips for finding a moms' group in your area:
1. If your town has a local Parks and Recreations office, start there.
2. Mommy & Me classes are a great place to meet other moms who may be looking to get out of the house as well.
3. Your local churches often have moms' group
4. Search online for groups in your are
5. Facebook is a great way to connect people - ask around, surely someone will have a recommendation for you!
For 15 ideas for dates with your baby, visit Disney Baby!
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