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Military Moms!

Speed Dating – Mom Edition: Where to Meet New Mom Friends

I thought it was difficult meeting people and making friends as a single adult, but then I became a mom and moved to a new city with an infant.

After having a child, I found out how truly isolating new parenthood can  feel and how daunting it is to make mom friends.

With a weeks-old infant, we had just moved to a new city where I knew exactly zero people, and I felt like a castaway on an island for lonely moms. In all likelihood, the moms I wanted to meet, those in my similar season of life, were probably sequestered in their homes for the majority of the day as well. How was I ever going to meet mom friends and grow the community I so desperately needed?

A realization occurred to me one bleary morning as I aimlessly wandered the aisles of Target with a fussy baby who had driven me out of the house in search of sanity after awaking at 4 a.m. for the fourth day that week. Shuffling the aisles with me were similarly sleep-deprived moms, all seeking refuge in the ‘outside world” from the exhausting business of parenting.

If only we could form a Target playgroup for moms who have nowhere else to go this early in the morning, I thought.

Though I never launched the Target playgroup, the realization I gained from that morning was that I wasn’t alone. There were other women out there in my same shoes — who also needed mom friends — and I needed to find ways to meet them.

If you are new to an area, have been stuck at home with your kids for far too long, or even if you just want to meet a new group of people, these are the places that helped me grow a community. These have been sanity-saving for me, and they can for you, too! 

Here are a few places where you can meet your new best mom friends:

Gym / Stroller Fitness Classes / Stroller Warriors

Running is my passion, so I opted to use my workout times to socialize as well. I joined a gym with childcare and used that precious freedom to reconnect with the woman I was before I had a baby. I met other moms doing the exact same thing, and it’s been fun to see familiar faces at the gym when I drop off my child and head to my favorite spin class or the treadmill.

Stroller fitness classes are another fantastic was to get out, be active, and meet moms with littles. These groups are as much about building connections as they are about staying in shape. Workouts and the entire class structure are geared to accommodate moms with kids, so there’s no shame in having a crying baby, stopping to breastfeed, or letting your toddlers run wild during the class. There are several different companies that run stroller fitness classes across the nation and all are fee-based. Google search “stroller fitness classes” to find if one is offered near your location.

For military moms, Stroller Warriors is a FREE stroller running club for military spouses and their family members. Running chapters are located at military installations, led by military spouses, and open to all ranks. You can search for a chapter near you here.

Library Story Times

Consider this the speed dating of making mom-friends. For 30 minutes, once or twice a week, you can connect with other moms, get an idea of what they’re like, and decide if you want to connect outside of the library shelves. Story time is also a huge brain boost for kids, exposing them to books, singing, music, and even sign language, which builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills, along with vital social skills.

I attended my first library story time when my daughter was just 6 weeks old, and I lied about her age to get her in. Clearly, I was there more for my own social interests than I was for her cognitive development.

Now a year later, we love going for the fun interaction she has with the other kids. She picks out her own books after class, and I can interact with the moms I’ve come to know and love from our weekly visits to the library. Check with your local library for the story times offered. Some classes may require preregistration due to high demand.

MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers)

Attending MOPS was truly my saving grace, as it was the first place from which so many of my beautiful friendships sprang.

Whether you are an adoptive mom, young mom, seasoned mom, foster mom, stepmom or any other type of mom, you are welcome at MOPS.

Based on the idea that moms are best enriched among other moms, MOPS groups meet several times a month for activities, group discussions, speakers, and socialization. Offered with a faith-based component, you do not need to ascribe to a particular religion, or any religion at all to attend. Childcare is offered at meetings to give moms the freedom to truly connect, and locations meet in a variety of settings from private residences, coffee shops, YMCAs, and local churches. Search for a location near you by visiting the MOPS website, or find out how you can start a group in your area.

Community Play Groups

You might be surprised to know that many local health departments offer parent support groups, resources, and even playgroups! I was referred to our local “first-time-parent playgroup” by a mom friend I met at library story time (another reason to socialize – moms love to share resources). The playgroup met weekly and ran for the course of one year, until the youngest child turned one and then the whole playgroup “graduated.”

Led by a retired pediatric nurse who volunteered her time, we took field trips together, sang endless songs, blew bubbles, and shared the highs and lows of parenting firsts. It was incredibly enriching to see my daughter learn new skills each week, and it felt justifying to know there were other parents going through exactly the same joys and struggles that I was. Check with your local health department to find out if they offer similar services. If your health department doesn’t offer a playgroup, ask if they would consider starting one.

Social Media Groups

Social media is another portal to search for local playgroups in your area. From Facebook groups that focus on parenting, motherhood, or playgroups, there are lots of options available by searching groups in your local area.

Meet Up also has groups for parents and mom, with lots of activities and options to choose from.

Baby Gyms

It’s never too early to introduce your child to movement and music, especially if you also get the chance to make new friends! With several different franchise “brands” offering movement classes for children as young as 6 weeks old (Little Gym, My Gym, Gymboree Gym), you can bond with your baby and still have adult conversations all in one place.

We took our daughter to a baby gym for several months and she thrived crawling around, exploring new surfaces, and being free to roam as much as she wanted. I also made my first mom friend at baby gym, as I anxiously waited until after class to ask a fellow mom whom I enjoyed chatting with for her phone number to get together later. Though our children no longer attend the gym classes, our friendship has continued beyond our initial meeting place!

 

The new-parent season of life is one of the hardest endeavors I have even undertaken, and I only wish I would have given myself a little more credit for being more flexible and capable than I ever dreamed I could be.

Sure, I had no clue what I was doing (even today most things are still trial and error), but I found strength and comfort in taking active steps to connect with moms in my similar situation.

The key for me was looking for groups I was actually interested in, so that the people I met there would already share a common interest. Don’t wait until a certain benchmark in your child’s life to get out there (when they nap more consistently, when they can sit up, when they are done cutting that one tooth). Pack up your tiny human and start making the most of the network that’s out there waiting for you!

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