The Benefits Of Mom Support Groups
So, you took that bold step and decided to reproduce. Little did you know your offspring will turn your life as you knew it before their arrival upside down. No one warns you of the multiple sleepless nights, the endless diaper changing, nursing on demand, entertaining guests who want to visit with the newborn, all while still performing regular household chores like laundry, dishes, cooking and cleaning, caring for pets, other children, yourself, and maybe even hold down a job! Nothing truly prepares one fully for the arrival of a child, and as they grow older, rather than get ‘better’, things get ‘different’. Their needs change, and so do yours. Unlike most other jobs, parenting does not come with a manual, you learn as you go along, and each child brings with them their own wealth of on the job training skills that need to be mastered very quickly.
Whether you are a stay-at-home Mom, a work-from-home Mom, a full-time working Mom, a part-time working Mom, an unemployed Mom, or underemployed Mom, it goes without help that you need help once in a while, just to get through your day. Having been a stay-at-home Mom for the better part of five years, and now working full time outside the home, I have had the opportunity to experience motherhood/parenting from different perspectives and I must say that neither of my experiences was ‘easy’ in comparison. The underlying factor was that I faced different challenges and experienced different levels of being overwhelmed with what would seem like mundane, everyday tasks. It may sound like a cliché, but sometimes, only another Mom can truly understand and or appreciate a Mommy problem. Something as simple as taking a nap during the day becomes a Herculean task when you have little ones around who need to be fed, entertained, and watched like a hawk around the clock. You dare not clean up your house because it is an invitation for them to redecorate it, aka spread their toys across every visible surface of it. Having someone or few people around who can relate to your situation helps ease some of the stress, and also helps maintain your sanity.
A support group could consist of other mothers, local childcare providers, members of playgroups or places of worship. It could be friends or family members who have indicated the willingness and ability to support. How they choose to support is also not set in stone. I remember once having a girlfriend come over, and I kept drifting off to sleep during our sacred tea time. After about 30 minute of not getting anywhere with our conversation, she packed up my children and ordered me to go to bed. They were gone for about 3 hours, and that was the most refreshing three hour nap I had that year!
Due to the fact that our lived experiences are much nuanced, our individual needs as mothers vary. Our personalities and unique character traits also come into play, and these determine the level of support we want or are willing to accept. As busy as Mom life is, finding and maintaining contact with a support group could feel like one more task on the already unending to do list, but it is imperative that one makes it a priority to connect with other Moms. You get the chance to have adult conversations, in real time, with real people. You get to vent about the many ways you wish your life could return to pre offspring days, even though you would not trade your current life for the world, and you have the assurance that the person you are talking to does not in the least bit think you have lost your mind, because they know exactly what you are talking about.
Emotional connections and adult conversations are not the only benefits you can get from a Mom support group. They are also not the only types of support a Mom needs. Depending on how close you live to members of your support group, it may also be an invaluable tool for practical support with everyday tasks. You can start a carpool to School or other childcare facilities when needed. You can take turns grocery shopping, swap babysitting hours, or start playgroups for the children. Beyond that, you can also start a book club or some other social group for Moms based on your shared interests, or the curiosity to learn something new. Beyond wanting to get together with other Moms, a support group can also provide a space to ‘take a break’ from parenting. You are able to step away from your role as Mom for a little while and be a person on your own merit, rather than ‘so and so’s Mom’.
If you are a Mom looking to join a support group, reach out to your local MOPS (Moms Of PreSchoolers) association, join a local parenting group or create your own, ask around in Churches, hospitals, the library, childcare providers, and recommendations from friends and family members.