Fit in with a “mommy group”

Jan 21, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Once you give birth, it seems that a wide variety of social circles open up to embrace you. There are countless options for support groups, play groups, encouragement groups, groups that invite you to vent, scream, cry and laugh.

Mommy group

Your time is valuable, so how do you find a mommy group that best meets your needs?

Mommy groups can be a tremendous resource for new and veteran moms alike. In order to get the most out of the experience, it’s important that you truly fit into your mommy community.

Be picky

Once you have a baby, the mommy group organizers may come out of the woodwork. Your neighbors, friends, friends of friends, fellow church members, ladies at the gym or favorite barista will suddenly be experts on a great group of moms. While it may be tempting to accept the first offer to join a group (or multiple offers), take your time to make sure that you will be able to relate to the women involved. You will probably be pouring yourself out to these women when the sleeplessness kicks in, or the crying won’t stop, or you simply just cannot take the sight of one more diaper. You don’t have to share every viewpoint and interest, but the personalities should definitely mesh.

Find out why all moms need good mom friends >>

A trial run

Jennie and daughter

Don’t feel like you have to commit to the first invite you receive. Mommy groups can be serious therapy, so take the time to check out a few before officially extending your social circle. "My advice to moms thinking about going to a playgroup is to go more than once, says Jennie, a mom from New Mexico. "The first time I went, I was an outsider. The other moms/dads already knew each other and it almost brought me back to high school with the cliques, but by the second visit, everyone was very welcoming and it only got better from there."

Find out how to start a playgroup and save your sanity >>

Bonding over dirty diapers

Sometimes the strongest bonds are formed while going through a trial — and parenting is certainly a trial. "My mommy group started as a weekly play date," says Nicole, a mom from California. "But as the kids got older, the play date turned into a monthly mom date — without the kids. I look forward to that night because I know I’ll be able to unload some of my mommy junk and gain some much needed perspective." Don’t be that mom who’s always venting. Do your fair share of listening as well. Your mommy friends will appreciate your candidness and your ability to empathize.

Read about playdates for parents: Why a support network is vital, and how to find one >>

Be proactive

Andrea and son

Sometimes, finding a group can be so challenging that it’s easier to just form one yourself. Although it may take a bit more work, plenty of moms choose this option and end up with a great group. "I formed my own playgroup when my son was a little over a year old," says Andrea, a mom from Colorado. "I invited a few moms I had met through a hiking group and a new mom’s group. Being proactive enabled me to invite people I connected with and I wanted to keep it small. The moms in my group have become some of my best friends."

More about making mom friends

How to make mom friends
Making mom friends at the school yard
Start a playgroup with little or no money