You just had a baby, or perhaps you've decided you're tired of parenting without a net — a support net, that is. So you think to yourself, "Maybe it's time to find a moms' group so I don't feel so alone." Whether you're joining one on Facebook, via Meetup, or at your local hospital, it's a great idea and can be such a positive experience. But before you go to be just "one of the moms," mind these tips on how to survive and thrive in a moms' group!
Convenience vs. In-Person
For some moms, convenience is of the utmost importance, whereas for others, in-person connections are what make the difference. Decide which is your priority. If you're working and don't feel the need to make tight friendships, a Facebook group will fulfill all your needs without asking you to carve out any time from your calendar. If you're at home or perhaps just dying to make new friends, an in-person group at your local hospital or a local Meetup group is a much better idea. When I first had my daughter, I joined a local moms' group at the hospital where I had my daughter because I was at home and wanted adult conversation, support, and the chance to make friendships. The nice part about this group is there is also a Facebook page, so even though I work now, I can still reach out to the ladies and get advice when needed.
Pick what your greatest need is at this point: is it in-person social contact from other moms (i.e., adults) or is it ease of communication and quick access to other moms?
Are you looking to reach a specific group of mothers? If it's divorced moms, mothers who have fertility issues, working moms, etc., you should try to find a specific group or Meetup that will support your needs. A general moms' group won't have the same passion or level of detail that, say, a group of mothers with children who have autism will, if you need some specific help and support.
Identify Your Goals
What are you looking to gain from a moms' group? Are you looking for parenting advice, friendship, or support with something like breastfeeding or postpartum depression? Figure out what you're looking to gain from the experience, and you'll be able to get what you need out of the moms' group.
If you walk into a room or start posting on a moms' group page and start to feel uncomfortable, chances are it's not you. You've either found a bad group of women or perhaps the ladies aren't your speed. Maybe you're using formula and the group is antiformula, or maybe some of the moms are judgmental. Whatever the case may be, if you feel uncomfortable asking questions more often than not, this may not be the right moms' group for you.
You may like a moms' group you've just found either on the Internet or face to face, but there might be a key player in the group, a ringleader if you will, who you don't like. How do you deal with that? Unless she's terribly nasty, keep your interactions with her to a minimum and find ladies who you feel comfortable with and stick to getting to know them. If this ringleader happens to be sabotaging your new friendships, you can do a few things: confront her (if you're brave enough) and ask her why she's so set on making things difficult for you; speak to your new friends and share your concerns about this woman frankly; leave the group. If it's run by a bully, chances are it's not going to be a fun experience.
In general, whenever there is a large group of women (think sororities), there are bound to be a few you don't like. If the head lady is not the nicest, focus on the women whose company you enjoy. You don't have to like everyone! It's sad I even have to write this particular segment, but we all know that in life there are some people who aren't too kind. Handle with class.
Ignore the Ones Who Seem Perfect
You will most likely meet, whether virtually or in person, the mom who seems perfect and knows it all. This may irritate you. Realize that she is either very Zen, a seasoned mom with a plethora of kids, or a fake. By fake, I mean someone who is extremely distant and socially closed off in order to appear like she's got it all together. Don't worry about her. No mom feels perfect all of the time, even if she appears that way. Worry about having a good time and getting what you need from the experience.
No Bad Talk
This is crucial for social media forums. If someone engages you with nasty comments about a question you've posed or a response you've made, do not under any circumstances get nasty back. This is a public forum and things can get heated quickly, and you don't need any drama. If you have to, don't post or comment for a while. If the woman is very nasty, contact the group administrator, as no moms' group should tolerate that type of behavior. A moms' group should be a safe and supportive space!
Ladies may share sensitive information in the group, and it's vital that you don't share any of that information with anyone, especially if you want others to respect your confidentiality as well.
Some moms may do things that, to you, seem weird. Guess what? Don't comment. Keep it to yourself. Unless a child is in danger, the group should be a safe space for people to be who they are. You won't like everyone or parent like everyone else. Accept it and ssh!
Make the First Move
If you've met someone in your group or virtually "met" someone in your group who you really like and would love to get together beyond the group, ask! Don't be shy. Sometimes making a mom friend can seem like you're asking someone out, but if you never ask, your friendship will never really grow. Besides, maybe she's afraid to ask as well!
Joining a moms' group is a great way to get through this journey we call motherhood. I am so glad I had the support of a group of lovely and smart ladies, especially when I first became a mom. It was a wonderful experience, and I will cherish it always!