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We share some insight into the importance of connecting with other moms and how best to do it.
Why moms need other moms
"Being around other mothers is one of the smartest and best adventures a mother can do for herself. There is nowhere better to get advice and support for those tricky questions and no better community to share the sweetest joys of motherhood," says Lyss Stern, a mother of two, the founder of Divalysscious Moms, a luxury lifestyle company for mothers and families, and the author of If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself (Clarkson Potter, 2009).
"I call it a 'sorority' for moms," she says. "Everyone needs a network of people who just get it."
Tami Kulbatski, the founder and director of the Toronto Centre for Positive Psychology, agrees: "When moms spend time with other mothers, they are able to find a safe place to express anxieties, fears and hesitations about a myriad of parenting decisions," she explains. "Joining a support group allows moms to meet, socialize and commiserate with like-minded mothers."
Connecting with other mothers is also good for the children's sake, notes Stern. "Mom friends yield kid friends, and it is a wonderful, enriching experience for moms and kids who are friends to be able to spend a day together," she says.
The downside of no mom support
Being a mom, especially a new mom, involves more than cuddling a cooing infant and choosing cute outfits at Baby Gap. There are sleepless nights, long days and countless questions about whether what you're doing is right. All of this can feel isolating for even the most level headed among us, and can be made worse without the support of people who have gone through it.
"Often when women find themselves face to face with the trials, tribulations and difficult emotions that come with being a mom, they fail to recognize that what they are feeling is normal," explains Kulbatski. "Joining a mom support group provides mothers with an experience that facilitates feelings of belonging and encouragement. In essence, mom support groups provide mothers with a normalizing experience."
"Without support, mothers could end up feeling alone, isolated and confused," agrees Stern. "Who better to consult and get support from than another mother?"Mom support: Where to meet other moms
So where should you start when it comes to expanding your network of moms? Here are some simple, but effective ideas.
• Find an online community that can act as a virtual support group. If anyone you connect with online is located nearby you can also find time to meet up offline.
• Sign up for a mom and baby class, such as swimming, music or baby sign language.
• Check with your local library. They often have designated story times allotted for babies and toddlers.
• Check out a postnatal yoga class in your area. Many encourage moms to bring their babies.
• Head to the park. Chances are there will be at least a few other moms there with their little ones.
"Spending time with other mothers helps women to nurture friendships, share experiences and provide opportunities for their children to interact with other little ones," says Kulbatski.
Mom support: What's right for you?
Despite the fact that mom support groups work for many moms, that solution may not be right for you. But as long as you have some form of support you could be doing just fine.
"I occasionally work with women in my private practice who choose to avoid joining a mom support group. These women often indicate that they get the support they need from relationships they share with relatives, friends, religious institutions, etc.," says Kulbatski. "There simply is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone."
It is important to find a support solution that works for you, but do consider at least trying to connect with other mothers occasionally.
"Women need to know that joining a group – any group – can have a profound impact on their level of happiness and well-being," says Kulbatski. "In fact, the latest research indicates that joining a group that meets just once a month leads to the same happiness gains as doubling your income."
Whether you approach other moms at the local park, start a weekly coffee date with moms in your area or invite other moms and their kids over for regular playdates, finding ways to expand your social circle with other mothers is a great way to ease some of the stress and anxiety of parenthood.