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Entries in Mothers' clubs (3)

Tuesday
Apr282015

Keeping Mothers’ Clubs Relevant (and Efficient) in a Changing World

 

This is part 3 in my series on mothers’ clubs. Need to catch up? Part 1 and part 2.

You’d think that the ease of connecting online would be a boon for mothers’ clubs, but it’s been a blessing and a curse. Sure, clubs can communicate with vast memberships with a few taps and clicks, but valuable, in-person events can be thinly attended and real connections are sometimes hard to find.

This was a major topic at the Community Leaders Summit I attended a few months back. Leaders of local parents’ clubs talked at length about how to attract and keep members in a day when anyone can start a Facebook group. Not that there’s anything wrong with Facebook groups, it’s just that mothers’ clubs have the depth and scale to offer so much more to new parents than a lively message board.  

I was really inspired by the enthusiasm of one of the conference organizers—Amourence Lee. She cares so deeply about parents’ groups and what they mean to our community that she co-founded an organization to help them. Her company, Parent Clubs on Board, was recently acquired by Care.com and aims to give parents’ clubs tools to help them run more efficiently. For example, why should every mothers’ club on the SF Peninsula individually create a catalog of local preschools for their respective preschool fairs? They shouldn’t. That’s why Parent Clubs on Board created an online platform that local clubs can use to disseminate information about preschools in their area.

And I love that Amourence and her co-founder Leisa McNeese created Parent Clubs on Board in living rooms across the Peninsula with their toddlers running around them. It heartens me to hear stories about moms coming together and building something in an unconventional way. I know my local mothers’ club has given me opportunities like this and I hope the club thrives long enough to do the same for many future generations.

Amourence Lee Leisa McNeese

Sunday
Mar152015

Nurturing the Nurturers

Recently, I wrote about playgroups and how my local mothers’ club played such an important part in my transition to motherhood. What had set me to thinking about playgroups was a fantastic summit for local parent leaders that I had just attended.

The highlight of the summit for me was the keynote speaker, Kate Hoepke. She was a new mom in the mid-eighties and found solace in a small, local mothers’ group in Southern California. When her husband took a new job and they moved cross-country, she founded a new club along with a friend. She even wrote a book called Nurturing the Nurturers on how to found and run a mothers’ club. Another cross country move, this time to the San Francisco area, resulted in her helping to found over 40 Bay Area mothers’ clubs. FORTY CLUBS, including the one I belong to. It’s absolutely astonishing to think about the number of lives she’s reached through helping these clubs become a reality. How many moms got advice on pediatricians or preschools? How many babies learned to share with playgroup friends? How many moms felt less alone?

I was fortunate to get the chance to talk with Kate after her keynote. I’ll admit that I teared up when I thanked her for her work. It was obvious from her speech that she had made a lot of sacrifices to help build community for mothers, and I was grateful for the opportunity to offer my sincere thanks.

One of my oldest friends has started organizing "Babies and Brews" meet ups for new moms, dads and babies in Boston. Kate's work with mothers' clubs started casually and out of a personal desire for companionship. I can't help but wonder what kind of impact my friend may have on her larger community if she keeps these events going—and what potential lies in all of us when we set our heart to something. 

Kate Hoepke’s full keynote is above. Her introduction starts at 7:40.

This is part two in a short series on mothers’ clubs. Part one is here and part three will focus on how technology is changing mothers’ clubs and how they are working together to find efficiencies. 

Monday
Mar022015

Playgroups Aren’t Just for Playing

Playgroup baby friends.

Nic was a month old when we went for our first playgroup. I was so proud that I had made it to the designated walking path, unloaded my behemoth of a stroller and met the group of new moms in time. That day, we walked and talked. It was banal, mostly sleep and poop talk I’m sure, but we were there. We were outside in the sunshine, we were connecting with someone else who was dealing with the same upheaval that we were.

Nic and I became playgroup regulars—spending mornings circled around with other moms and babies at the park, on living room floors, in libraries and in book stores. It was precious time and it was so valuable. Not only were we expected to leave the house at least once a week, but we were making friends and sharing stories. I treasure that time.   

My local mothers’ club has been a savior to me. Not only for playgroups, but also for the advice forum, fantastic classifieds, Mother’s Day pampering nights and even a holiday gift wrap party. (Seriously, who knew wrapping presents with other moms over wine could be so much fun?) The club was the start of my local village and has led me to invaluable resources in the past five years. I’m so thankful for its existence.  

This post part one in a short series on mothers’ clubs. Next, I’ll tell the story of being able to thank, in-person, the woman who helped establish my local mothers’ club and many many others across the United States.