Motherhood can feel pretty isolating, especially in the first few weeks and months after baby is born. Being part of a moms group that meets in person can be life changing. A mama tribe can provide much needed friendship, support, and learning opportunities—for you and your child. I started two successful moms groups that still meet up. Getting together with mom friends continues to be a highlight for me AND my kids.
Can’t find a local moms group? Start one. It’s easier than you think. Here are 5 tips to help you get started:
1. Pick a date/time/location.
Choose a day and time that works with YOUR schedule (that’s one of the perks of being the coordinator). Then block it off as if it is the most important meeting of the week…because it just might be 90% of the time.
One of my moms group meets at 10am every Monday. Even when I was working a job that required me to have flexible hours, that time slot was non-negotiable. A Monday meet up is a great way to start the week (I actually look forward to Monday mornings!). The mid-morning time slot works for me because I don’t like scrambling to get out of the house early. Find a time that works for you and commit to it. If you’re a Monday-Friday working mom, start a weekend meet up.
Choose a location. This can be the same place every week or a new location each week. Either works. The predictability might get you more members, especially at first. I choose to schedule a different location every week to accommodate more moms in various locations and so my kids don’t get bored with one place. Variety suits my personality. If consistency is your jam, choose the same place. It’s all about what works for you. Choose dates, times, locations you know you can make each week.
Think about frequency. Once a week is ideal. It’s consistent enough to become a habit in people’s schedules. Meeting up less than once a week can cause folks to loose interest. Meeting up more can be overwhelming.
2. Choose a Focus.
You can narrow down your group’s demographic by choosing a focus. Mine was simply moms with babies. We sat together on blankets in the park. This worked really well for us. It was open and inclusive. I scheduled organized activities at first, but after a while it became clear that mamas were happy just talking. And the kids were happy just playing together. It’s nice to not have the pressure of an activity and just “be.” This is a totally acceptable “focus” for your group.
You can choose a common interest…I know groups who do choose a more narrow focus. This can work, too. Choose what works for you since it is your group. Here are some examples: age based, babywearing, mom/baby yoga, vegan moms, moms of toddlers, religion based, positive parenting, arts & crafts meet ups, working moms group, stay-at-home-moms group, etc. The list could go on and on.
You’ve picked your date, time, location, and focus. Now you need to get the word out. You can:
Create a private page on a social media platform (like Facebook) for your group. It’s an easy way to filter requests, create events, and share photos privately. Add moms to the group as you meet them.
Tell people you already know. This can be cousins, work friends, friends of friends, neighbors, moms you met at music class, etc.
Have mommy cards made (business cards for moms) with your name and number on them. Hand them out to mamas you meet while out and about. Start conversations with other moms—in the store, at the library, the park, restaurants. If you feel like you “click” with a mom, hand her a card. Ask her if she’s part of a moms group. Tell her about your group. Invite her to attend. This personalized approach is very effective. (You can read more about how my moms groups got started here).
Reach out on social media. There are usually larger mommy groups based on locations. Find one for your city and post a message saying you are starting a meet up for whatever your focus is. For safety, I recommend asking people to private message you for specific details.
4. Establish Guidelines.
There are some basic guidelines that need to be established within your group, even if it is pretty open. As the organizer, you are responsible for communicating these rules. Being clear from the beginning can go a long way in keeping the group peaceful, private, and fun.
Try to focus more on the “dos” than the “don’ts” with your list…things like: please only attend if you and your child are healthy; please keep dogs at home for the safety and comfort of all; please be aware of food allergies; please ask permission before taking or sharing photos, we all have different parenting styles & that’s okay, we’re here to have fun, etc. The big No-Nos to add to the list are: No Drama and No Bashing.
Go deep, not wide. Cap membership at a manageable number. List the maximum number of members in your guidelines. I chose 50 as my top number; any more than that felt unmanageable. There are more than fifty moms out there who need support, but for in-person meet ups, less is more.
5. Let Go of Expectations.
Let go of expectations about involvement. Moms are going to be as involved as they can be. They’ve got small kids. You get what you give in a mama tribe—the more active you are, the more you get out of it. That being said, being the organizer takes effort. If after six months you find that moms aren’t active participants, you can let your group know you’ll be removing names and keeping the group for those who participate. This will happen. Moms are eager at first and then it’s either not a good fit or they just can’t make time to attend. It’s okay to shape the group as it grows and changes.
Let go of expectations that the group will form overnight. If you make it, they will come. This is a project that will slowly unfold overtime. It’s about building genuine relationships and not a number on a screen. Quality over quantity.
Let go of expectations that every meet-up will look picture perfect. You’ll all take turns having a hard day (kids and moms!) You’ve all gotten questionable amounts of sleep. There will be pushing or testing of boundaries—and this is all okay. Meet-ups are a chance for kids to try out behaviors with their friends and parents. Patiently tend to your own child. Be quick to forgive. Be graceful when children are unbecoming with your child. The day will come when you need that same grace extended to you and your child.
Let go of expectations that every mom will be a good fit. There is no one moms group that is perfect for all moms. Some personalities clash. Every mom is looking for something to fit their individual needs. It’s okay if moms come and go, leave after one meet up, break off into subgroups, etc. Try not to take it personality. Focus on what and who is working toward bettering your group.
Let go of expectations that all moms groups are negative. In-person meet ups can be much different than online chatter rooms filled with shaming and snippy comments. You can hold the space for moms to stay upbeat and supportive. Set the positive tone. Be the encouraging example for others to follow.
There are so many perks to running and being part of an in-person moms group…honest conversation, opportunities for your children to make their first friends, even chances for dads to meet and connect with other dads. The support and friendship between moms is powerful and needed.
Take the lead. Brainstorm today. Start your group. Reach out. Be the change for other moms and yourself.