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Parenting Articles
Join a Mom’s Club
Mommy Networks Work Wonders for New Mothers
(published in Parents' Press in 2012)
By Heather Larson

 

When the couple in the new TV show Up All Night leaves the hospital with their newborn, the mother (played by Christina Applegate) asks if there is a manual for how to take care of the baby. Unfortunately, infants don’t come with how-to guides. But joining a new mom’s group just might be the next best thing.

Shannon Banta, a mom of two in San Ramon, joined the Iron Horse Mothers Club when her daughter was 1 year old and she’d just given birth to her son. The club, named for the Iron Horse Trail, draws members from the towns along the trail including Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin and Pleasanton.

“I had lived in the area less than a year and was staying home with my children, so this seemed like a great way to meet other mothers in the community,” says Banta. “Going to the meetings and outings motivated me to get out of the house, which often seemed daunting when you have to tote two little ones and a diaper bag spilling over with supplies for them.”

Not only has Banta met other community members, but her children have maintained lifelong friendships that were first formed in the club. Iron Horse turned out to be a positive and supportive network for both Banta and her children.

The Iron Horse Mothers club has both an online and a social component. On its active online forum, moms share information, ask questions and sell baby furniture and clothes. In-person, the group hosts playgroups, pumpkin patch field trips, summer story hours, an annual carnival and many more events designed for moms and babies or the entire family. They also have mommy-only activities like Pamper Night, when local businesses provide complimentary services like massages and manicures and members socialize over wine and appetizers.

Licensed psychologist Gina Hassan, Ph.D., who has offices in Berkeley and San Francisco, says networking groups combat the isolation new moms feel, give them support, provide a safe place to talk about parenting challenges and help moms feel connected to other moms. Often new mothers think they are all alone.

Antioch mom Naomi Redding realized there was so much she didn’t know about parenting that after hearing about the Mom’s Club of Antioch several times from several sources, including the hospital where she gave birth, she decided to check out the group.

“It was a nice feeling to discover there were other stay-at-home moms who were happy and supportive,” says Redding, who joined the group when her first daughter reached 2 months of age.

Mom’s Club of Antioch, which is part of a national group, offers a wide variety of activities. The first event Redding attended was an annual garage sale. A typical monthly calendar lists the following activities: a tot swim, exercise group, children’s gym, crafts and snacks and a cooking club. Recently on a mom’s-only night out, members brought their wedding albums and shared their marriage proposal stories.


What to Look For

The most popular types of mommy networking groups fall into two categories: facilitated and peer-led, says Hassan, who facilitates a mindfulness-based new mom’s support group.

“It is very easy for new moms to worry, and they are vulnerable to comparison or suggestion,” says Hassan. “In our group, I ask them to turn inside and really pay attention to what they know to be true for them and their babies right now. It’s my hope that after the four-week session, the members will continue to meet on their own.”

If you desire to bond with other moms, look for a group that meets consistently. Hassan cautions to watch out for inclusive groups that may recommend a parenting style, like attachment parenting, that you’re not comfortable with.

Banta says she likes being part of a network of moms who are local.

“The online component allows us to ask questions and share resources, but it’s also important to actually meet with other moms and kids in person. Both the kids and moms will benefit,” says Banta. “I would also look for a mother’s club that offers opportunities to attend events as a family as well as mommy-only events. It’s so important to take time for yourself, so plan an evening or two where you get out and socialize. You’ll only appreciate the time you spend with your children that much more.”

 

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