Lifestyle

Beyond bottles and bibs; Mom’s groups provide a much needed “grown-up” outlet | Kitsap Week

Looking over Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, moms get a good workout. Exercise has been linked to helping to prevent postpartum depression. - Erin Jennings
Looking over Liberty Bay in Poulsbo, moms get a good workout. Exercise has been linked to helping to prevent postpartum depression.
— image credit: Erin Jennings

Motherhood can be wonderful.

But it also can be  tedious —dirty diapers, spilled Cheerios and the theme song from Dora the Explorer running through your head.

And if you are a stay-at-home mom, it can be challenging to connect with other people, at least people who don't insist on having “Green Eggs and Ham” re-read to them.

Kitsap Moms Meetup

“Not having a job to go to meant that I didn't have an easy outlet to meet friends,” said Elizabeth Bell, organizer of Kitsap Moms Meetup. But through the countywide group, she has had the opportunity to socialize and become friends with other moms.

The group meets for play dates, story times at the library, family outings and the occasional mom's night out.

“For people at home all the time, you can kind of go stir crazy after a while,” Bell said. “This group allows every mom to get out and have different options.”  There are usually three to four weekly events scheduled throughout the county.

Bell said the size of Kitsap County makes it difficult to meet women in other areas. But thanks to Kitsap Moms Meetup, she has friends countywide.

Mom’s Morning Retreat

Jenny Lange and Carrie DeFoe are co-chairs of Mom’s Morning Retreat on Bainbridge Island. During the school year, the group meets twice a month and is led in discussion by spiritual leader Bev Gaines.

The discussion theme this year is “Embrace Your Self: The Art of Authentic Living.” At each meeting, a different topic surrounding the theme is discussed.  And though the group meets at Grace Episcopal Church, Mom’s Morning Retreat is non-denominational and is open to mothers of all faiths and belief systems.

The discussions give moms something to think about and chew on—and it doesn't involve puppets or children’s songs. Instead, the topics are designed with the mom in mind, topics such as how to find balance in your life and how to stay true to yourself.

“We turn to these talks and actually focus on feeding ourselves. That makes us a better person and ready to give outwardly to others,” Lange said.

While the moms have grown-up discussions over cups of coffee, children are having their own fun. Structured like a mini-preschool, the children's program at Mom's Morning Retreat engages and entertains young participants.

And if your little one isn't ready to separate from you yet, that's OK.

“We've all been there,” DeFoe said. “And we'll help hold your baby so you can get a cup of coffee.”

DeFoe said the group helped her realize that as a parent, everyone has good days and not so good days. Smooth-sailing days are often countered by days that you’re lucky to find a free moment to brush your teeth, let alone shower.

“We’ve all changed the poopy diapers and soaked the socks in Clorox. Some days your house is really clean, and some days it’s not,” DeFoe said. “I’ve realized it’s more important for me to have someone over for coffee with toys all over the floor, than it is to postpone the coffee until everything is painted and shiny.”

And unlike some groups, Mom’s Morning Retreat doesn’t graduate its members. First-time mothers engage in conversations with mothers of high schoolers. Having a wide-breadth of experience allows moms to mentor and learn from each other.

The feedback from Mom’s Morning Retreat has been very positive. Women said they don't feel so alone and enjoy the time with others who understand what being a mom is about.

“To feel like you aren't alone and feel understood— I am in awe that we can provide that for people,” Lange said.

Stroller Strides

Lindsey Sauvageau helps to connect with other moms while providing an outlet for friendship and fitness through her Stroller Strides business.

Through a series of exercise routines using strollers as props, moms get a good workout, while the babies enjoy fresh air and movement. Periodically, the group will break out in song while exercising. During a recent workout, moms sang “The Wheels on the Bus” to the babies while working their triceps.

“You get a great work out.  You have fun and the kids have fun,” Sauvageau said. “I'm still trying to figure out what the downside is.”

Finding time to exercise when you have a baby can be challenging, Sauvageau said. Besides helping moms get in shape, exercise is linked with preventing postpartum depression. Membership in Stroller Strides is similar to a monthly gym membership, or participants can purchase punch-cards.

Along with the scheduled workouts, Sauvageau organizes a mom’s club in conjunction with Stroller Strides. Previous events have been casual stroller walks across Tacoma Narrows Bridge and movie nights.

All the mothers interviewed said it’s important to make connections with others and to have a social outlet. As for stay-at-home dads, no one was aware of a Kitsap dads-specific group, although there are some in Seattle. Perhaps there is a dad who would like to organize such a thing?

Being part of a welcoming group takes the stress out of meeting new friends.

“I’m not the kind of person who talks to somebody in the grocery store, I’m a shier person,” Bell said. “Kitsap Moms has given me access to friends and built relationships further with people.”

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Mom's Groups

Mom’s groups in Kitsap are too numerous to list. To find one near you, search “Kitsap mom groups” online.

For information on the organizations discussed in this article, visit their websites:

www.meetup.com/KitsapMoms/

www.momsmorningretreat.com

www.strollerstrides.com


 

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