I read Mrs. Scooter’s recent post on her “village” with lots of interest – and envy! In a perfect world, we should all be lucky enough to have a lot of friends nearby with children who are close in age.

Alas, this isn’t always the case, especially for those of us who have moved a lot.

My village is spread out – way, way out. It includes family members and a few close friends. People I love dearly and hope will always be in my life, even if I can’t talk to them daily, weekly or even monthly. And while these relationships are valuable indeed, not having much of a village where I am now has slowly taken its toll, especially when I don’t have a lot of time or energy for marathon phone calls or e-mails to faraway friends.

A few months ago, I resolved to try to correct this problem. Sure, you can chat up random parents on the playground or in baby classes, as Mr. Bee once recommended, but I also decided I’d try a more formal channel to meet some other women and hopefully form a new village: the mom’s group.

Little Y and I have been on a handful of outings with our mom’s group, including the park, the mall playground and library story time. And I’ve met a lot of very nice, very diverse women. Earthy, crunchy mamas? Check. Moms of multiples? Check. Harried moms of three kids under 3? Check. Recent transplants to the area? Check. A former NFL cheerleader? Check!

So how’s it going? Honestly, it’s a mixed bag. I’m grateful to have some more options for getting out with Little Y, and having women to commiserate with is valuable, even if it’s only for a brief hour on a random Tuesday. The group also stays in touch via a private Facebook group, which is really valuable for advice on schools, local activities and other practical matters. While I haven’t made any close friends yet, it hasn’t been very long. I also find it really hard to have anything close to an in-depth conversation when everyone is preoccupied with whether their kid just bopped another kid on the head, for instance.

That leads me to a few words of wisdom for anyone considering joining a mom’s group:

  • See whether there’s a group for moms with children in a similar age range. My group is pretty general, and while I like that diversity, the activities are all over the place. The holiday party was at a local paint-your-own pottery place. You can imagine my terror as I tried to wrangle my toddler in a shop with shelves upon shelves of breakable things.
  • Ask for recommendations about particular groups. One woman I already knew steered me away from a group she’d already tried because it was full of drama and judgmental moms – exactly the kind of crowd I want to avoid.
  • Suggest meet-ups that work for you. I haven’t done this yet, but I will soon. It can be tricky to find prescheduled activities that work with our schedule, which revolves around naptimes, my freelancing, Papa Y’s work schedule, and other activities that Little Y already enjoys, like his music class.
  • Engage moms outside the group if they seem like friend material. Again, I haven’t been very good at this so far, but I think it will be key going forward. As I said before, it’s hard to really get to know someone with a bunch of small kids running around!

If you’re thinking of joining a mom’s group, here are a few places to look:

  • MOMS Club (geared specifically toward SAHMs) has more than 2,100 chapters nationwide.
  • MOPS: Mothers of Preschoolers has almost 4,000 chapters. Despite its name, your child can be any age from birth through kindergarten. The groups are usually faith-based, but I’m not sure how hardcore that is.
  • Meetup often lists several local mom’s groups – this is how I found mine.
  • Local churches often have groups geared toward moms.
  • If you have a specific interest (moms of multiples, attachment or holistic parenting, children with autism, breastfeeding, minority moms, etc.) a quick Google search will probably tell you whether such groups exist in your area – my city isn’t particularly large, but all of these groups are active here.
  • And of course … ask your friends!

Have you joined a mom’s group, or have you thought about joining one?