Online S.O.S.: the New Mom's Clubs

By Lindsey Townsend

“Some days, I can’t even make it out of the house, between nursing every two hours and changing diapers,” says Nancy Shovlin, mother of 2-year-old Mathew and six-month-old Julia. “If I didn’t have the telephone and e-mail, I think I’d go nuts.”

Sound familiar? As joyful as it is, being a new mom can be frustrating, exhausting, and lonely. By tapping into a mom’s network, though, you can find encouragement and on-the-job feedback. Best of all, most organizations now have an online presence, so help is just an e-mail away.

Here’s a roundup of some resources that can help save your sanity:

International Mom’s Club

With 50,000 members and 1,000 chapters, the International Mom’s Club provides a support group for mothers who stay home, as well as those who work part-time or at home.

In addition to offering babysitting co-ops, service projects, and events, many chapters host online e-mail loops for members. The Mom’s Club is currently redoing its website and will feature more local information options and interactive activities in the future. “It’s very reassuring to be able to talk to other mothers who are facing the same problems that you are,” says founder Mary James.

National dues are $30/year; each local chapter also sets dues, usually between $15-25 a year. Web page: www.momsclub.org or write MOMS Club, 25371 Rye Canyon, Valencia, CA 91355.

Mothers and More: (previously Formerly Employed Mothers at the Leading Edge)

Mothers and More is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support sequencing women-mothers who have altered their career paths to care for their children. The organization has 8,000 members and 180 local chapters.

“We offer support and camaraderie, because the transition from working full-time to being home can be a huge culture shock,” says Catherine Carbone Rogers, media relations director. In addition to scheduling activities for mothers and children, the group places a special emphasis on its members’ interests apart from mothering.

Many local chapters offer lively online e-mail loops, where members swap info on topics such as which health clubs have child care, where to buy secondhand toys, and which churches have Mother’s Day Out openings. “The local loops provide a great way for at-home mothers to stay connected. Even if they can’t make it out of the house on a bad day, often they can still sneak away at nap time to chat for a few minutes,” Rogers adds.

Annual membership is $45. Web page: www.femalehome.org/ or call (800) 223-9399.

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International

MOPS is a non-denominational Christian organization with 100,000 members that provides support to mothers with children under school age through 2,500 chapters nationwide. “One of the biggest needs that mothers with young children have is to be reminded that what they do every day is important,” says Karen Parks, director of public relations and new ventures.

Mothers with demanding toddlers definitely need encouragement from each other, Parks says. “I knew of a mother who was a West Point graduate and a commander of men--yet she said her 2-year-old took her to her knees!” she laughs.

MOPS’ website features MomSense online, a daily 2-minute radio segment downloaded as streaming audio that offers “a little bit of nurture for mothers.” An Internet forum for member conversation will be online next year, and MOPS is also considering establishing an online forum for working women.

National MOPS dues are $15/year; local dues vary by chapter. Web page: www.mops.org or call (888) 910-6677.

Mocha Moms - Stay at Home Mothers of Color

Mocha Moms is a support group for mothers of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside the home in order to devote more time to their families. With chapters based in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, online services include discussion boards, chat rooms, and a book club. They are currently accepting applications for new chapters.

Dues are $12/year. Web site: www.mochamoms.org or write Cheli Figaro, 7202 Quisinberry Way, Bowie, MD 20720.

     Executive Baby, at www.familyinternet.com/ebaby/intro.htm, is a national newsletter that assists working mothers. The site features first-hand accounts of women balancing work and family, a Mom to Mom Solutions Club, parenting articles, a child psychologist who answers parent questions, and other helpful resources on work and family issues.

     A website for executive women, www.bluesuitmom.com offers an excellent, in-depth site that includes a women-owned business directory, a database with over 100,000 job listings, and many discussion forums.

“As a working mother of four, I know firsthand that the challenges of working mothers are unique,” says Maria Bailey, founder of bluesuitmom.com. “We offer tools and advice on how to balance your work and family life from experts and mothers who’ve been there. I personally believe that you CAN do it all--with a little help.”

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