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Moms Group Challenges

Awhile back I posted about how I had started a Moms Group – well the group has been going on for about five months now and we ballooned up to 60 members! It’s great to see our numbers climb, but with it come so many challenges that I figured could happen but hoped wouldn’t. Here are some of the challenges I’ve faced and how I’m working to overcome them (this post is helping me to vent, for one!).

  1. Finding Things To Do
    • I’ve been wanting to write a post about events for a Moms Group, but I haven’t been very good at figuring out what to do so I can’t write that post yet! It is really difficult to think of things to do sometimes! What kind of things are good to do with a whole bunch of pregnant women? Well, eating is one. Sitting and talking is another. So I scheduled a bunch of bi-weekly events to sit and eat. This went well for a few weeks, but then people must have gotten bored.
    • This brings me to diversity – no one wants to do the same things week after week. I figured since we’re just getting to know each other we should keep our events low-key, but that’s just boring. But what the hell else do we do? There are only so many free classes and baby expos and I can only go to the “big box baby store” so many times before I start to go crazy.
    • It’s also difficult to find a place with all the basics that people want: adequate parking is usually number one (a difficult task here in the urban Pacific NW where cars are not king), access to alternate transit is another and a convenient place in town is important too. No one wants to be in the car forever, especially when you have to pee every 30 minutes or so.
  2. Getting People to Show Up
    • What’s been really frustrating is that there are 60 people in this group and I’ve met maybe, maybe, 20 of them. And I go to every event! (Except for one, read on…) Yet every single person, when they signed up, said they joined the group to meet people. So where are they?
    • Most of the people that I have met have only come to one event. It is most difficult to build a friendship with a person who you’ve only met one time.
  3. Gathering Feedback
    • What makes matters worse about the no-shows is that people won’t tell me why they don’t show. Are the events not at a convenient place? Do you hate the food there? The parking? Maybe there are too many events in a month and you just don’t know what to pick. Maybe the day or the time of the event doesn’t work with your schedule.  Is there somewhere else or some other day/time that you have in mind?
    • But why not tell the organizer about your conflicts or dislikes? If you truly joined the group to meet people then why aren’t you either coming to the events that have been arranged for you or telling the organizer that you have a problem with the events? I can’t read minds!
  4. Keeping My Cool/Getting Over Myself
    • Deep breath. I refuse to give up.
    • Are my expectations too high? I mean, we’re all pregnant, we all have different energy levels and sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere. I get that. Last weekend I ditched a group event for the first time ever because a) I was frustrated with the group, b) only one person had RSVP’d and c) It was a beautiful Saturday and my garden was calling my name (“Please, please help me grow things for you!” it said).
    • Deep breath. I refuse to give up.

So… there are my grievances. Kinda makes you never want to start one of these things, huh? But WAIT! There’s got to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Things are bound to turn around, right? Well, to be honest, they haven’t yet. But they WILL. Here’s what I’m doing to make it happen:

  1. Changing the Group’s Online Host
    • In my last Moms Group post I talked about the importance of finding an online “home” for your group; a place where you can keep the calendar of events, a list of members and generally communicate between yourselves. I started the group on Meetup.com, but that costs money to use as a host. And, since the participation has been most frustrating I didn’t feel like wasting spending the money on it any more.
    • I moved our group to Facebook this month. The transition is happening over about six weeks, giving people plenty of time to get use to the idea and convert. The deadline to make the switch is in just a couple weeks and so far we have 18 members on Facebook. This is not at all a complete switch, but I still see it as a positive. I hope that the people who never truly intended to do anything with the group just don’t come over to our new space.
  2. Diversifying Our Events
    • Now that the weather is getting nice, I’m trying to do more things for our events. I scheduled a bunch of things through the next couple months, including a few walks in the park, a visit to the local free gardens, Farmers Market browsing and a cute cafe with outside seating. I hope to get some people to go to the “What To Expect” movie when it comes out in a few weeks. Plus I found a boutique baby store that has free classes for cloth diapering (I did that one with the group already), baby wearing, breastfeeding and even infant CPR. These sound like fun things, yes?
  3. Begging for Feedback
    • I developed a survey on surveymonkey.com and asked the group to participate. While I only got ten responses, it did help shape scheduling and expectations. Here are some of the finer points from the survey:
      • They prefer events that are in fairly central parts of town (which has been the case for all our events so far…)
      • Most would like to participate twice a month, with mostly the same amount of participation after their baby arrives.
      • Weekend days from 12-6 works for almost everyone, with a few liking weekday evenings as well (I’ve never scheduled anything outside these times).
      • People prefer events types in this order of popularity: walking around (90%), sit and eat (80%), free classes (70%), movies or ice cream/coffee (60%), shopping (55%) and for-fee classes (45%).
      • No one wants to suggest actual places to go (even though this was a mandatory question. One response was actually “Um…”.)
    • I hesitate to host things at my house because, well, I don’t know these people! My plan is to host things at home after our babies arrive but if I haven’t gotten to know people well enough to trust them in my home with my new baby by then then I’m not sure what the hell we’ll do when we have newborns.
  4. Getting the Word Out
    • Now that the group is on facebook, this is a tad more difficult. We have a closed group so people have to friend me to join so I can add them. But, it’s a small price to pay for a much easier and free home for the group. I’m trying to get ladies in my group prenatal checkups to join, especially since we have due dates that are really close together (which is pretty much the only requirement for being in the group!).
  5. Keeping My Cool/Getting Over Myself
    • I have to keep my expectations low. I have to realize that I probably won’t find my Next Best Friend in this group. And that isn’t really the point anyway. I just hope to have a little entertainment and an excuse to leave the house once Baby2 comes along and I’m at home all day.

So that’s my big, long, well-organized (!) vent about my Moms Group. Bottom line, it sucks and people are not accountable but I’m sticking with it. I’m hoping that pregnancy is holding people back and things will get better after our babies arrive and are at a manageable age for taking them out. I’m trying (hard) to keep my expectations low. But my fingers are still crossed for success!!

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