How I used my toddler for friend bait (or, how to create a local moms group)

  A little over half a year ago I was in a not so great place.  I had a wonderful little boy that I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with, and a wonderful husband, but my life was essentially empty other than them.
  I have wonderful, dear friends that I’ve known for years and years, but almost all of them live far away now, and none of those really close friends have kids.  That meant if I needed somebody to talk to while I was home alone with G, they were at work.  And even if they weren’t, there wasn’t really any way they could understand how impossible just getting out of the house with my tiny person could be some days.
I call this “daydreaming of naptime”
I got involved in a bunch of activities, thinking all I needed was something more to occupy my time.  I ran for city council, I went back to school, I started this blog.  They all helped, but I still felt isolated, not having somebody nearby who really understood how I was feeling.
  G and I had been going to our library’s baby group since he was 4 or 5 months old, and it was one of the highlights of my week to be able to talk to moms with kids his age.  I had checked into the meetup groups around us, but none of them seemed to be a good fit.  Most of them were more than half an hour away, and the closer ones were expensive.  Several of them were exclusively for moms who ran…I don’t really run.  Many of them were religious…I’m not.  Those that didn’t have specific niches were looking for annual dues, and I just wasn’t comfortable putting down money to join a group I wasn’t sure I’d even get along with.
  So I decided to start my own.
  Now, a couple of the moms who come to the group I formed (and with whom I’ve made friends) read this blog.  Ladies, please don’t be freaked out that I only formed the group to trap you into being friends with me, but I totally did.
  I knew I couldn’t be the only mom in my area who didn’t want to drive to the bigger city nearby to meet other moms, nor could I be the only one who didn’t want to pay high dues just to get out of the house.  I decided, if worst came to worst, I’d have tried to invite other moms over and failed.  I wouldn’t be out anything but my pride.
  I talked to a few of the other moms at the library and decided Friday mornings were the time the most people were likely to be able to come.  I created a Facebook group and started handing out slips of paper with the group page information on it.  I encouraged anyone who showed an interest to mention it to anyone they thought might want to know.  I introduced myself to any new moms who joined the library group and told them about our meetings.
  I felt obnoxious. 
  I’ve been shocked by what a positive reaction I’ve gotten.  Our group is currently up to 17 Facebook members and a handful of us meet every Friday.  The people who show up vary, depending on who has the current plague and who is out of town on vacation.  We take turns hosting so it isn’t a huge burden on anyone.  We meet from 10:30 until noon so everyone has had time to have breakfast and we can go home and have lunch.  Whoever is hosting usually has tea to offer the adults, and crackers of some sort for the kids, but these are typically things we all have on hand anyhow.
  We try to keep it casual.  The kids are all within a two year age range at this point, so they all play together while we talk.  Because we’re all more or less in the same boat, we all “get it” when a baby melts down, or spits up, or refuses to play and just clings to their mama.
  It’s good for the kids.  Every time we go to a new house for the first time the resident baby struggles with the idea that it’s ok for other kids to play with their toys (at least if they’re old enough to understand “mine” anyhow).  After a couple times of friends coming over and nothing disappearing when they leave, they get much better about sharing.  The older kids are learning to play gently with other kids, and the younger kids are watching the older ones and learning to crawl, walk or talk.
  It’s really good for us.  We share recipes, tricks for how to quiet noisy toys and tips for dealing with tantrums.  We commiserate about how easily these wonderful little people in our lives can push all our buttons until we’re just crazy.  We remind each other that we’re not alone, and we laugh a lot.  It’s not unusual for us to run far past our official end time because we’re having too much fun to go home.
  Maintaining the group doesn’t take a whole lot of work.  I create an event each week on the Facebook page with the name and address of whoever is hosting that week, but beyond that, we all just show up and enjoy each other.  We use the page to communicate community information (like mom to mom sales) to each other and to organize other get togethers (like meeting up for a parade).  I keep the group closed so that we’re not posting our addresses for everyone in the world to see.
  Even as crazy busy as I am now, I look forward to our Friday group meet-up every week.  I love having the support and I love the idea that when our kids start going to school, we’ll all be in it together.  We won’t
be meeting all of our child’s classmates (or their parents) for the first time, we’ll have friendly, familiar faces there with us.  I love having other women to call up for lunch, or to go to watch a parade.  Husbands don’t always get the most excited about that sort of thing, and it’s a lot more fun participating in the local community events when there is another family to go with.
  Starting this group has been one of the best things I’ve done.  If you have kids you need to have friends who have them too.  Don’t, of course (god forbid!) cut off your friends who don’t have them!  But find those who do.  Join a group, or, if there isn’t a group you want to join, make your own. 
  If you have any questions about how I went about forming my group, or would like to bounce ideas off of me about forming your own, please don’t hesitate to email me or leave a comment!
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