Moms Meeting Moms: Finding Parenting Groups in New Jersey

Whether you're a mom, a dad, a guardian, or a babysitter, one thing's for certain--it can be hard to meet other caretakers in a comfortable social setting. Suddenly, you turn shy and wonder if you're saying the wrong things; it feels like high school all over again! I've been there. When my daughter was born, I hesitated to make new mom friends because I was scared they'd judge me. I ended up meeting some wonderful local parents, and you will too! Below is a helpful listing of parenting groups for all new and not-so-new parents out there in New Jersey.

A fantastic social site is Meetup, which is filled with parenting groups; whether you've got an infant or a special needs child, like to hike or bike, or want to find someone to form a book club, Meetup has it all. Just create an account on it (I have a separate email address for MeetUp emails) and learn about mom groups in your area! There's North Jersey Moms, Jersey City Moms, Paulus Hook Moms, and more!

Mom Victoria of North Jersey, helps organize events for the North Jersey Moms Meetup Group. "Our group has events mostly in Bergen/Hudson and some parts of Passaic. We have typically between 400-500  members and we charge dues which are $20 a year. The ages of the kids in the group range from newborn to nine." The calendar varies, but play date, lunch and/or strolls are popular.  "We also do a number of private classes at the Tenafly & Flat Rock Brook Nature Centers and set up private events at indoor places such as a party at Kids U & one at Chuck E Cheese (both were free for members) then we do indoor events at places such as Kids Rule in South Hackensack."

There's lots of love for South Jersey parents as well. One incredibly helpful resource is South Jersey MOM magazine, available both online and print. The Web site lists a plethora of mom (and dad!) meet up events for parents and kids. Click here to view it. You can even submit events to be listed online if you're hosting something yourself.

Another popular parenting forum is Yahoo Groups. Chances are there's a parenting group forum in your area where people are exchanging information and setting up play dates with moms and dads in your neck of the woods. (For example, here's the link to Yahoo's Stay at Home Moms of NJ group) Some Yahoo groups posts things in the area that are free for children, whether they are classes or museum memberships. Moms also ask which parks have baby swings, what local petting zoos are like, and so forth. It's a great resource. Plus, you don't need a Yahoo email (switching is a drag) and can have all your emails forwarded to whatever email platform you use.

Mothers and More is a national organization that reminds moms and dads that we are, in fact, so much more than caretakers. Its goal is to bring woman together to form close bonds as mamas statewide explore this crazy journey we call parenting. The Website has a search feature so you can figure out which chapter you want to join. If there's no chapter, you can start your own. Something to consider, no?

Holistic Moms Network is similar to Mothers and More, but it's geared towards moms interested in a “crunchier” (alternative) lifestyle; they promote natural health and diet, breastfeeding and attachment parenting. Holistic Moms network isn't free, but the yearly membership includes speakers and events that are amazing opportunities to meet like-minded folk, and learn a ton. They have active Facebook, yahoo groups and online forums and you can use their search feature to find a local chapter.

MOPs of St. Andrews is another parenting meet-and-greet. (It stands for Mothers of Preschoolers; and MOPS is national) This particular group meets at the St. Andrew the Apostle church in Gibbsboro two Tuesdays a month from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m. The group is non-denominational; they do have a prayer and devotional, but welcome all no matter where you are on your spiritual journey. One of the organizers, Katie, says, "We meet in small group in the Parish Hall and start the meeting with a delicious hot breakfast. Meetings start with an inspirational and spiritual introduction by our Mentor moms, followed by either a craft, guest speaker, community outreach or small group discussion." For more info, email Katie at: mopsofstandrews@gmail.com. They also have childcare during meetings which Katie can help arrange.

Lastly, Moms Club – you've probably seen their ads in the local paper that read something like “every Tuesday at 4pm Moms Club of ___ meets for one hour...” but haven't gotten the guts to go. Next time rip it out, and attend a meeting--or go to the Moms Club website and ask to to be connected with a local chapter leader. This is a club designed for stay at home moms, with children-welcome meetings during the day, and a reasonable yearly fee.

Image: Mothers & More

This post was originally published in August 2013.

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