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The Importance of Community


By Susie Cortright

This summer, my car died with my 6-month old and I inside, so I pushed a rickety second-hand stroller nine miles to my mother's 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 barbs we would endure to come together each week.

In our industrialized world, children and moms too often stay isolated in their homes. Less industrialized countries, on the other hand--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 of other mothers can help moms share ideas, vent frustration, and compare notes. These groups can be the ticket to the outside world for moms who are feeling cooped up and isolated with a new baby, too.

Monica Jones is a stay-at-home mother of two.

She 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. It allows your child to socialize if she is not accustomed to a group setting, such as day care. My child is still an infant and she has such a much better day after our mom's group.

Some groups may allow you to keep your professional skills sharp, as well. 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. She 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.

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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 homebased moms in your area than you realize.

The best places to find people like you are the places you already frequent. Get 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 spaces, or simply rotate hosting duties, each week meeting in another member's home.

© Susie Michelle Cortright
Susie Cortright is the founder of momscape.com and Momscape's Scrapbooking Playground -
http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking. Join her scrapbooking club here:
http://www.momscape.com/scrapbooking/scrapbook-club or learn more about starting your own scrapbooking business on Susie's team.

Read more articles by Susie Michelle Cortright.

 

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