#1 – the peanut app
When I moved to San Diego from New Hampshire, I knew no one! My husband had a job and he started working right away and met some friends through work and I eventually did the same when I got a job. I still only had friends from work and when you work an hour from home, that means your new friends live far away too! Then we got married and had a baby and needed to find some parent friends!! I felt so guilty- that because I didn’t have any friends here, my baby wasn’t getting playdates, and social interaction. I knew for her sake I needed to find some playdates.
I started searching google for things like “mommy and me” groups and things like that and wasn’t coming up with much. I was frustrated and didn’t know what to do to find mom and baby activities. Sure – things like Gymboree and Mommy and Me classes existed but for some reason I couldn’t find any near me, there were some up in LA and down in downtown San Diego but both are 1-2 hours away from me and so even if I were to venture out to get some baby interaction for Carli, any one I’d meet wouldn’t live close enough for regular playdates.
I am not sure if I googled apps for this or if I searched in the app store – but either way I found the PEANUT app! And all my prayers were answered! This app is amazing. It was an instant community, even just chatting with another mom with things in common was so refreshing.
The peanut app is what I jokingly call ‘Tinder for moms!’ You create a profile and show how many kids you have and their age and gender, then you can choose 3 icons that represent your interests, to try and find other mamas with things in common. Some of the icons include, a glass of wine, a cheese burger, a cat, a weight/fitness stuff, beach, and so on. Then it shows you other moms in your area currently. You can wave at them or skip them and then you are connected or matched with other moms that also wave at you (similar to all those swipe right type dating apps!).
When my first born was about 2 weeks old and I was at my 2-week well child doctor visit- I met a mom in the infant waiting area. We started talking and realized that our babies were born on the same day and that we delivered at the same hospital! The time in the waiting room flew by and we were called in to see our pediatrician (who also turned out to be hers – just to add to the coincidences) and we said goodbye! It felt like we needed to be friends, like this was a sign, it was so easy! But we both just walked away!! Like farewell friend, until we meet again! Months later when my baby was around 7 months old and I was hankering for a mom friend, searching the internet for answers, I finally find myself swiping through peanut, waving at all my potential new mom friends!! Then I get a message from a mom who I was matched with and she says, “Hey my name is Kaitlyn, I think I met you in the doctor’s office at our babies 2 week visit!!” The Peanut App not only helped me to find all of the moms in my bestie mom gang, but also reconnected me with the first mom friend I made and helped us to figure out this whole mom friend thing!! We met at a local restaurant that was kid friendly and had ourselves a beer and had some adult conversation, while our little babies squirmed around on the blanket. Soon after I connected with another mom – Amelia, who told me she had also matched with Kaitlyn but hadn’t met up yet. Amelia also brought along Nicole, who she had recently met on the PEANUT app.
Soon after at another mom event Kaitlyn introduced us to Amanda who she had connected with on peanut and we introduced them to Nicole. We all had found ourselves in similar situations – we were just new moms looking for another mom friend… and we found the app, matched with some mamas and before we knew it we had a mom gang, we had our village and we had play dates and childhood friends for our babies!
This core group of friends has been there through so much. These are the mom friends there to talk when we had all of our crazy mom moment – when one of us had a kid that got a bad cut or a finger in a door jam, or a fever and we are scared or feeling the mom guilt – this group of moms has been one group chat text away ALWAYS. There is always someone available to meet up at the park for a quick play date, a zoo day, a trip to the mall – anything we need. These are the friends that insisted on throwing me a Gender reveal party for my second baby, planned everything, the cutest little get together. When the night took a turn and I ended up in the hospital from a pregnancy scare, these are the friends who brought dinner over when we got home, and came over for play dates and offered to entertain my kids when I was stuck on bed rest for months. These are the friends that brought my breakfast when my water broke and I had to rush to the hospital. These friends have cried to me and turned to us for similar and many more parent problems and the network of support we have all gained is priceless! The fact that our husbands hit it off and have all become friends. This made it possible to plan weekend get-a-ways and family trips together. I don’t know what I would do without this group of mom friends that have become best friends.
#2 – fit4mom : stroller strides
Another place I met a large village of moms was Stroller Strides through FIT4MOM. I had come across it early on and at first wasn’t interested, because I had already paid for a gym membership, I had finally gotten my daughter to be comfortable being left at the child care center there and was in a good routine working out there. I felt like it wasn’t what I was looking for and continued to search to find mom friends and not just a new workout program. While I’m so glad I did end ended up finding the Peanut App.. I wish I joined Stroller Strides sooner. But I was wrong! It is so much more than a workout class, you truly gain and entire community, and entire network of mamas who just get it and are there to vent, have adult conversation, take some me time and treat yourself to a workout, and then finish up at a playground or grassy area and have a large playgroup setting for your kids on a consistent basis. It is such a welcoming community of moms, with class sizes ranging from 8 – 30 ism moms on any given day. The kids stay in their strollers during class but with snacks packed, sometimes activates, other kids to talk to, bubbles, and interactive kid songs sung during workouts, the kids stay entertained. Then classes typically end near a playground and the kids can play once class has officially ended. I go to the Oceanside, CA location, but I have also gone to other locations in San Diego such as Carlsbad, Vista, and even special event classes that were held at the UTC mall or Balboa Park. FIT4MOM has locations all over the US so be sure to check in your area for any locations. At my location in Oceanside we meet by the pier, and get to 4-5 stations up and down the strand. There are options to run or walk between stations in order to get in the amount of cardio you want. At the stations we do full body workouts using workout bands, mini bands and core balls for barre classes. There are modifications offered and instructors help mamas get a perfect workout in for their stage of post-partum recovery. I am a playgroup captain for the Oceanside location and so I help to organize weekly crafts or activities to do with the kids for a weekly or bi-weekly playgroup. I will be writing a post soon featuring some of my favorite toddler crafts I have done with the kids at playgroup!
No matter if you come to every class and utilize the unlimited monthly memberships or you come every so often and use a class pass or a package of classes – there is always a mom there who is a shoulder or an ear or just an adult to talk to, to help remind us we are normal as we navigate this new world of parenting. Most locations also have Mom’s Night Out events and/or family night events, which is another great way to connect with other families and meet mom friends and form playdates or have other kiddos to invite to your kid’s birthday parties! FIT4MOM has many locations and MANY more fitness programs available. I attend Stroller Strides and Stroller Barre classes but there are also kid free workouts available super early, 5 am. As well as some classes or programs such as BodyWell or BodyBack which are also offered as kid free classes and available at a studio location in the evenings. Once COVID hit, there were also several virtual options available which was convenient during peak times, and also nice to have when getting out of the house proves to just be impossible as it can be with kids sometimes! If you are lucky enough to find a FIT4MOM location near you I encourage you to check it out- first class is always free! But if there is not one near you don’t fret, there are many workout classes that offer childcare and also create a really good sense of community! While I know Orange Theory doesn’t offer childcare, there are some other workout gyms that do. There is one called Burn that a lot of working moms and stay at home moms are members of, and the instructors work closely with all and I have heard great things about the sense of community that is formed there and with the added child care option that is an excellent alternative if you can’t find a FIT4MOM.
#3 – Facebook Groups
The third way I have connected with other moms is through Facebook groups. There are some enormous, nationwide Facebook Support groups for moms, some more specific than others like for military moms or for breastfeeding moms, but for the most part you should be able to find a large number of Facebook groups that you can request to join. In these groups you can post questions you can and you will typically get a ton of feedback from other moms in the group. Questions like… what is this rash on my kids’ leg, or tips on potty training, or what’s the best high chair? These groups are typically well managed and although mom shaming does still happen sometimes, for the most part I have felt like these groups provided a safe space for questions, and a place for a lot of genuine, priceless feedback, advice and support. If you are in the San Diego area I recommend joining the San Diego New Moms Network Facebook group. There are a lot of moms that are active members and the advice and support given daily is unmatched. There is another one called the Bad Ass Breast feeders of San Diego. I have also seen people post that they are looking for mom friends, and they post a short post about their kids age, what neighborhood they live in, and when they’d be available for play dates and I have seen some moms get connected with some fellow mom friends seeking playdates and/or mom friends. I have also seen these Facebook groups post anonymous questions for members before. These groups are so big, somewhere around 8,000 moms. So often times coworkers or mutual friends may also be in the groups and some members have wanted to ask questions but maybe they haven’t told their boss they are pregnant yet, or they are having marital problems but don’t want their mutual friends to see the questions. You can send a message to administrators of the group and they can post the question anonymously for you. This group has a second page that is the ‘Shop’ version and moms can sell used baby gear. Another perk of finding some online support groups when you become a new parent. In my area and at least I know for sure the Seattle area, there are “Buy Nothing” Groups on Facebook. You join one that is specific to your neighborhood and it is a place for people to post stuff they just want gone, and just want a neighbor to come pick-up rather than make a sale. In fact, most groups have a ‘no sale’ policy. In this group I have posted when I had things like an open but brand-new bag of toddler pull-ups that my daughter didn’t fit into anymore. I posted it and within minutes someone responded and a mom came and picked them up off my front porch. I helped a neighbor and I didn’t have to throw away something brand new and un used. I have gotten many items this way and given many baby items away. Some items get a lot of traction and other times you may end up holding onto and storing away the large baby chairs or toys and maybe one day make $15 or $30 – so sometimes it’s better to free up the space in the garage and just give away to a fellow family in your neighborhood. You may even meet some parent friends.