If you are a new mommy, then you know all to well that it seems impossible at times to find the right circles for you and your little one. That’s why many moms start their own group or circle or at least try to work with a few people they may already know. The reality is that as many children that are born each day, it seems that when your little one gets to that stage of socialization finding the “Right” mammas and kids, that circle gets small.
I’m like every other mom. I searched out groups that I felt fit and what I wanted to expose Zoie too. I searched newborns, black moms, stay at home moms, entrepreneur moms, organic eating moms and so on. What I soon learned is that I needed to build a community around my daughter. I am a strong believer that it “takes a village,” and we moms are in control of the village you expose your children too. So this is what I did.
First: attend events that are important to you. For me it was early childhood literacy. I started taking Zoie to the Portland library story times at 8 weeks old. I found she was not the only infant in the room, but she was the only black child that would show up. So because I wanted her to also get some cultural exposure, I located events that pertained to cultural awareness. It was there I met moms of color and also moms interested in early childhood literacy. Slowly, my network began to broaden.
Second: once you’ve met a good group of women with children in your child’s age range, you want to collect emails, friend them on Facebook and then invite them over to your home for a play date. Zoie is 17 months old now and I have hosted about 10 different play dates at my home so far. Have a plan: Take time to think about what sort of play date you would like to have. Are you moms coming over just to play? Will there be food involved? How long? Where will the play time be? etc. Based on my group I usually have something special for the moms like serving mimosa or a little gift. We do so much as moms and its nice to sometimes have something that you know is just for you although your still focused on the kids having a good time. I find it helps to relax the group so that people don’t start comparing their kids and mommy worrying.
Lastly: Focus on building a strong relationship with the mom. If you are truly interested in building a solid village or community for your children you have to focus on building relationships with the mom and their families. This area could also be a little tricky, so don’t get disappointed when people don’t respond so readily. Some people might not have the time or energy that you have in this area. Remember, all you need are a few mom’s that are seeing things the way you are.
So some things to get you started in this area could be: Have a sign in sheet that lists their emails, kids birthdays, moms birthday, favorite toys, etc. Utilize this information to stay in the loop with your parent and build the friendship outside of your normal play date. People like who they trust and who invests in them. If your kids only connect for play dates and you don’t have a relationship with them otherwise, then that’s all it’s going to be…”A Play date.” But if you really want a strong village concept, spend time getting to know the families you are befriending. Invest in them.
Mommy groups and play dates can be a lot of fun. But you need to know your purpose for hosting one. If it’s just to give your kids some play time then take them to an open play park. If you want to build a strong community/village then you have to change your motivation and put just a little effort into making it a great experience for everyone. It will pay off in the end and hopefully you will be well on your way to building some solid friendships for your children.
If you’re in the Portland Oregon area, here are a few resources