What Is a Mothering Support Group?
Just what is a mothering support group, anyway? Here’s a sampling of the letters we received. We hope they give a sense of the many creative answers there are to this question.
The mothering support group to which I belong is an informal gathering in the form of a playgroup. There are now seven mothers and twelve children altogether, ranging in age from newborn to three. We meet every other week alternating homes by month.
At our first get-together we discussed schedules and ideas for our group. We meet on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. By noon, the children are exhausted and we reluctantly repack our diaper bags to head home. In the dead of winter when we all need little things to look forward to, we’ve met at local fast food restaurants where the kids can play. Last summer we had an evening cookout so we could meet each other’s husbands. This year we’ve planned a picnic lunch and hay ride. We’ve pooled money to donate to charity, we exchange magazines, we occasionally baby-sit for one another, we share gardening tips, we’ve given our sons buzzes together, we go through pregnancies together, we laugh together and we’ve even cried together.
— Chris Grossnickle, South Bend, Indiana
We meet once a month from September through May at a local church. Then, throughout the month, there are numerous activities, such as field trips, Creator’s Circle, Kiddie Kraft Klub, and Mom’s Escape. The activities continue through the summer. Various speakers present topics at each meeting, plus we have regular Parent Education Seminars on such topics as First Aid Course for Moms, Computers and Software for Preschoolers, and Preparation for Kindergarten. We also sponsor various service projects supporting local charitable organizations and provide a baby-sitting co-op for our members. We are a nonprofit organization and raise all of our own funds through events such as book sales and silent auctions. We elect officers each spring and appoint chairmen for the various standing and special committees. Within the larger organization there are smaller playgroups of four to six people. These playgroups meet as often as the members choose, and offer the chance to make new friends for both moms and kids in a smaller group setting.
— Diana D. Cooley, Garland, Texas,
describing a group organized under the auspices of the Early Childhood PTA.
Our Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group meets twice a month. We have speakers on topics such as: discipline, marriage, self-esteem, etc. A discussion follows. We also have a craft time. Mothers can be creative in making something new for themselves or their home. Child-care is provided, as well as an occasional special activity such as a hay ride, seeing a fire truck, or singing new songs.
— Veronica Vigil, Longmont, Colorado
Six of us met every Wednesday morning at a baby class called Playful Parenting, then proceeded to one of our houses for lunch. We continued meeting for several years, and our children are now the best of friends. Our lunch group has dissolved due to school and some of the women returning to work, and we now get together once a month with our husbands and children for a game night. It’s usually held at my home and we all provide a snack or drink. We play things like Scattegories and Outburst, and the children go off in their own worlds and have a ball.
— Jeanne Jacobs, Mechanicsburg, PA
One of my neighbors wanted to start swimming for exercise when her first child was still a baby. She coaxed four of her friends to form a co-op so that each of the moms could swim while the other moms watched the children. My friend made arrangements with the local YMCA to reserve a room three mornings a week for two hours. The YMCA happened to have a lot of toys, which they let us borrow, so the kids were happily occupied. Once we all arrived and settled in, one or two moms at a time would go off to swim while the other moms stayed in the playroom. Each mom got about thirty minutes for swimming and dressing, so the whole group was finished within about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on how many moms showed up on a given day.
I must admit that while I enjoyed the swimming part of this co-op, for me the best thing about it was the time I had to chat with other mothers while we watched the kids in the playroom. I was new to the area and had been fairly isolated, and meeting these other mothers made a world of difference.
— Susan Nefzger, Cumberland, Rhode Island
We meet for dinner (without children) once a month. The emphasis of our meetings is to socialize — we feel that just finding each other is the greatest support we have to offer. We have found a permanent meeting place at a local restaurant and have begun to briefly discuss a topic of special or general interest after dinner. In addition, we get together monthly for a daytime outing with our children. Most of our get-togethers draw about fifteen mothers, so we’ve had the luxury of keeping the group informal and personal.
— Linda Gaebel, Vienna, Virginia (describing a support group for “older moms” operating under the umbrella of Mothers First, a local organization based in Washington, DC.)