Why Mamas Need In Person Support
Author: Zoë Etkin, MAMA CIRCLE Founder & MNC Co-Founder
We sit behind our computers, or on our phones, for hours and hours each day, able to connect with friends & strangers near and far. And with all of that access to content and connection, many of us mothers feel alone and isolated. We're usually found at home, with a baby or toddler stuck to our body in some way, managing (barely) the household duties, while attempting to maybe get a shower in. Being home all day with a little one can feel incredibly lonely. Beyond a trip to the grocery store, sometimes we go weeks without intentional adult social time. Many of us don't have the opportunity to get in that social time without our babies, but there are ways to socialize with them.
Our babies and toddlers are beautiful beings, but they are not, and should not be, a substitute for in person, adult interaction. Neither is social networking. It's simply not the same, and though there are some great forums out there for mom support, breastfeeding, parenting, etc., it's not wise to rely on them for your sole social outlet (or informational resource, but that's a different story). Human beings need connection to thrive, and that includes being in the same room as other people. Connecting on an energetic and physical level. A warm hug from an understanding mama friend goes a long way to restore a weary parent's energy. Watching your baby laugh and play with other babies is also a true joy!
Here are some ways to get that much-needed social time with the realities of being a mama of a baby or young child:
1. Coffee or lunch dates: make a coffee or lunch date that works with your baby's nap schedule with a friend who does or does not have kids. These outings are a nice way to connect with non-parent friends who may be available during their lunch hour. Connecting with other moms is great, but sometimes we need reminders of who we were before we became a mom, and childless friends do just that. Plus, they'll probably enjoy holding your baby while you eat (with both hands)!
2. Join a baby play/story time/music group: In Memphis we have Music for Aardvarks and other fun music classes for babies, as well as Story Time at many of the local libraries. The main library (Benjamin Hooks) has very popular story times for various age groups, but my personal favorite is at the Poplar-White Station branch (near Whole Foods)--my friend Morgan is a children's librarian there and she leads a magical story time filled with lots of books, fun songs, interactive games, and hands on stuff too! While the kiddos are jammin', you can exchange some friendly banter with another mom/grandma/parent, and after folks usually hang out for a while.
3. Fitness Programs: Memphis moms have lots of fantastic options for mom-centric yoga and fitness classes. Fit4Mom runs group classes all over town, and also hosts social meet ups. Join a Stroller Strides session at Shelby Farms, or try their postpartum exercise program, "Body Back." Transformama hosts some of their programming, along with their own classes, including prenatal/mom-baby yoga with Emily Mulqueen. The Kroc Center and the YMCA at Crosstown (affiliated with the Church Health Center) are also mom-friendly spaces worth checking out.
4. Connect with folks at your place of worship: If, before you became a mom, you were involved in your faith, gather up your baby and head to your local church, temple, or mosque. These communities are built to support families, and many of them have childcare--so you can have some time to focus on the service or the adult fellowship afterwards. It can feel daunting to get back into a weekly outing with a baby or toddler, but you will feel so much more yourself being able to reconnect with your community.
5. MAMA CIRCLE: That's exactly what we are here for. A casual, yet curated social and support experience for moms across the span of pregnancy, early postpartum, and toddlerhood. Our focus is on YOU but your baby or toddler will enjoy the outing as well. Our new space at the Mother Nurture Center offers a lot more room to groove, lots of toys for kiddos to play with, and is all around just a lovely place to be. As usual I (Zoë) will be facilitating the circles, offering parenting support, advice, resources, compassion, and a necessary dose of humor. Our gatherings are twice a month (first Tuesday and second Saturday, 10am [both days are now at 10am]). Each month features a local mom-focused business who shares about what they do, offers demos or samples, and offers discounts. These companies are carefully chosen, and it's not salesy at all--just a nice opportunity to learn about a local business that serves our mom community. We're now located right by the up and coming Broad Avenue district, and there are lots of cool shops, restaurants, and cafes you and your mama pals can head to before or after the group. Grab a coffee at City & State and head over to us!
We know how hard it can be to get out of the house with a baby or toddler and we want you to know that MAMA CIRCLE is THE perfect place to do just that! We are totally mom-baby-toddler friendly. It's okay if you're late, it's okay if your baby cries, it's okay to nurse with/without a cover (whatever makes you comfortable), and to be YOU. Sometimes that means mom-bun, spit up shirt, still sitting on a donut cushion. THAT REAL. We're here for you and want you to come as you are and know that you will be fully supported, loved on, and called in when at our gatherings.
If you haven't yet signed up for the next MAMA CIRCLE, sign up through our website or venmo me at @zoe-etkin. $15 per gathering, or $25 if you go to both the Tuesday and Saturday meetings within the month.
Gather up that baby, throw on something cute (perhaps from Quattro Mama?) and head out to one of our circles, to lunch with your college bestie, to the library.... Just make the effort to get in some social time outside of Facebook--it's worth it! You're worth it!
See ya out there, mamas!