Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mommy Survival 101

Just as I was exiting the haze that is the first six weeks of motherhood, I recieved a phone call from a co-worker of mine who was also on maternity leave. She was looking to start a mommy group and was I interested in coming by to her place? Absolutely. The afternoon that followed was one of immense enjoyment. There were a total of 8 new mommies and their babies that attended that first afternoon. As we sat amongst fruit trays breastfeeding our little ones, I relaxed, a lot! I realised that I wasn't alone. What happened that afternoon was truly amazing to me. One by one we started to share was this new adventure called motherhood was like. We started to trade stories of sleep deprivation and share tips on how to get out of the house for an hour. We started to warm into a really nice comraderie.
Out of that one afternoon a mommy group was born. Every 2 weeks we would meet at one of our places with a little bit of food and a lot of laughs. Some days the group was fairly large (about 10 mommies with their babies) and other days it was smaller (3 mommies with their babies). There was no pressure, just come if you could, bring a friend if you wanted and enjoy the little breather.
Our baby group lasted a year. The numbers began to dwindle as our maternity leaves expired, but out of that group some good friendships were born. My son (turning 5 this summer) loves to see pictures of baby him with one of his baby best friends (who is still one of his best friends).
Motherhood (particularly new motherhood) can be a lonely place. If you are used to being out in the work place, the change to staying home can be abrupt. As much as you may enjoy the break and adore you new son or daughter, the longing to see grownups can be great. What is wonderful about mom and baby groups is that you already have a common ground to meet on. It's lovely to know that someone else cares about things like proper feeding, nap times and baby smiles.
There are 2 kinds of mom and baby groups that I have been a part of. The first is the one I just mentioned, created by one of us, meeting in our homes. The second was one coodinated by a family resource centre, run by a paid employee open to the community. I enjoyed both, they were a great time out for me.
Pros of the 1st kind of group:
-we were brought together by pre-existing relationships so there was little (if any) baby bragging and comparing amongst us
-we already knew we liked each other
-we kept it low pressure about attending
-rotated the host so it wasn't just on the shoulders of one person
Pros of the 2nd kind of group:
-consistant day and time of meeting
-set set of rules
-centre organised snack and activities
-activities for toddlers and preschoolers (craft, story and song time, games)
Cons of the 1st group:
-because there was no pressure about meeting, sometimes we didn't meet (schedule conflicts)
Cons of the 2nd group:
-meeting parents that you don't know so you have to mingle to get to know people
-other parents' discipline (or lack thereof) may get on your nerves
-more baby development comparing
-may have a drop in fee
-groups are larger (less intimacy)
The most important thing about a mommy group (for me) was the chance to meet with other moms. You can start to build a support network for each other. And when you are new mom (or even not a new mom) that network can be so valuable. What kinds of things do you look for in a mommy group?

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