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New moms: What gets you 'out of the house'?

Urbanmamas_stealingtime_playgroups

Now that my little ones are older -- my youngest is five, and all of my three boys are in school -- I sometimes forget what it's like to be a new mom. That's one reason I love the writing playgroups I've started with Stealing Time and my long-time "home school MFA" classmate Mara Collins; at once I'm doing something I love (talking about writing and reading) and connecting with, mostly, mothers whose children are very young. Even though it's distant for me, remembering what it was like to be a new mother without a lot of community and validation was really hard. It was about that time, though, that I met a mom's group, and then soon after the lovely ladies of urbanMamas.

So I could relate when I asked our new member Tuesday why she had come. She didn't have a writing project specifically in mind. "I just want to get out of the house," she said. That's as good a reason as any!

It brought me back to the feelings of my young mama days, how I wanted to somehow stay relevant to the world and yet still honor my new role as a mother; how hard it was to get to know the new mother self while at the same time learning how to deal with a small very needy being; how little was left at the end of all that and yet how much I needed to use what little was left in an altruistic way.

We're planning to start rolling out the writing playgroups to other neighborhoods and cities starting in the winter, to give more people this chance to "get out of the house" in a way that engages your brain and still honors your motherhood (or, if you're an at-home dad, your fatherhood). If you're a new mom, how do you connect with all the other selves that sometimes get muffled in motherhood? If you're not so new any more, how did you do it back then?

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I had to go back to work when my baby was 3 months old. Since I always felt guilty for not spending enough time with her, there was nothing that would get me out of the house without her for the first 12-18 months. After that, I was more comfortable leaving for an hour or so at a time, but I didn't do it often and I still don't.

You would be welcome to host one of these at the Laurelhurst Cafe.
www.laurelhurstcafe.com
47th and E Burnside, with a Kid Friendly Area, and good coffee.

Not so new anymore, but I remember making it a priority to meet with friends or co-workers at least once a month. My husband and I each got one. Fortunately, it's a pretty easy in NYC since there are particular pockets in the city where a majority of people get together.

The Providence New Moms group was my lifesaver... they sort you into playgroups to continue after their own group ends at age 6 months. Most of the groups don't continue too much past the first year, but it is a start that gets you going. After that I tried very hard to find another playgroup, but the few I did find were always the wrong time (naptime!) or else they also didn't hold together for long. By age 2, everyone just wanted classes instead and now I never see playgroups announced anymore, just more and more classes for even younger kids. So I guess I should be glad I was able to do it for the little bit that I did! Our street now has a Swap N Play which we got when the child was too old for it. Community Center is also nice for drop in Baby Gym, Messy Art, etc.

I agree that the Providence New Moms group was the best thing ever. Our playgroup is still very strong and meets weekly (sometime more) even 2.5 years later!

Um, going to work does. What I do wonder is why are seemingly all the classes that would benefit the new mother and infant, ie. Mamalates, infant swim lessons, new mother groups, etc. on weekdays? I work in research and couldn't responsibly take more than 5 weeks off, but that means that my daughter and I have to miss out on everything?

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