How to Make Mom Friends

Being a new mom can be lonely. Literally one minute you’re not a mom and the next you have this living thing that you have to feed and care for and keep alive — all while your hormones fluctuate wildly and the number of hours you sleep plummets. Then, a few weeks after your baby is born, your partner heads back to work, family members clear out, and you’re left alone in your home for eight-hour stretches at a time (or more) with a tiny creature who communicates by screaming.

It’s time to make mom friends.

How to make mom friends: Seven practical tips from BTDT moms to help you move past your comfort zone, strike up conversations and get to know other moms.

Here’s the great news: Becoming a mom is a rare point in our adult lives when people who are otherwise settled are ready and willing (and maybe a little desperate) to make new connections. All new moms need mom friends, and nothing bonds two sleep-deprived women faster than an intense discussion about feeding schedules and birth stories.

And yet, it can be hard to figure out how to make mom friends and daunting to push past your social comfort zone. But it’s worth the effort — mom friends help us stay sane and balanced during the ups and downs of raising children. They give you an outlet to discuss everything from swaddling to potty training to preschool and beyond. They say, “You’re a good mom,” when you need to hear it most. And they pass along wisdom and tips for making life more manageable (or they hang out with you in the chaos).

How to Make Mom Friends: 7 Practical Tips from Moms

To put together these “how to make mom friends” tips, I reached out to some IRL mom friends as well as a few of my favorite mom bloggers. I asked them how they make mom friends — in different stages of parenthood, when they’ve made a major move, or just when they feel like they need to expand their network. Several moms likened it to dating. A few of us had good conversations about the importance of connecting with other moms as a way to start to feel part of a larger community. I have also included my own thoughts and experiences. So whether you’re a brand new mom or you have older children, here are a few tips on how to make mom friends.

Tip 1: Join a group.

Groups for moms are readily available — online, offline and (likely) in your neighborhood.

If you’re pregnant or have a young child and are looking to connect online, Babycenter and The Bump are good places to start. They have online groups dedicated to every stage of pregnancy and early parenthood, as well as local groups.

My number one tip for making mom friends is to join groups! Online groups work especially well. I joined due date groups for both of my kids while pregnant. While the groups are online, there are several local moms that I have since met and established offline relationships with as well. These groups are a great source of support through pregnancy and all of your baby’s milestones and they are always available 24/7! I also join local Meetup groups in my neighborhood, which are great for getting out of the house, having play dates for my kids, and meeting other mom friends!”

Jen of Breastfeeding Needs

You can also find local mom groups on Facebook. Several communities set up private Facebook groups where you can ask for advice, sell or buy baby items, and get to know other moms in your area. Informal, on-the-fly playdates often arise from these groups. Consider posting that you’re heading to the neighborhood park once other moms have a sense of who you are. You might end up with a companion or two.

Meetup is a hotbed of moms groups. Many cities and neighborhoods have active Meetup.com groups for moms with young kids. Can’t find one in your neighborhood? Most groups welcome moms from surrounding areas, so check out nearby towns to see if there’s an active group. These groups host tons of activities, playdates, and even moms nights outs, and people will expect and be open to newbies showing up.

Some communities have larger groups and forums separate of Facebook or Meetup.com. For example, Chicago has the Neighborhood Parents Network, which includes online forums, events, resources, and more. Bump Club and Beyond is active in a handful of cities. Google or ask around to find out if there’s a local group you should be aware of.

If an already-tight-knit local moms group feels intimidating, how about checking out a group that coincides with another interest of yours? That will give you obvious common ground with other moms as well as an activity to focus on while you get comfortable.

I’ve met friends through Fit4Mom. Fit4Mom has Stroller Strides classes (a stroller fitness program) that caters primarily to moms who stay at home, but they also have moms-only fitness classes in the evenings and on weekends, and they host playdates and moms nights out. Mommy and me yoga or infant massage classes are options for moms with babies under six months. Or perhaps you’ve found a passion for (or just want to learn more about) a specific parenting topic. Babywearing International has chapters in several states, and so does La Leche League.

Don’t forget, your hospital likely has a group for new moms (and often has a lactation consultant attend them, so you can ask your breastfeeding questions, too). If you can’t find information online, call — hospital websites can be cumbersome. And if the hospital where you gave birth doesn’t have a group, check others nearby — they likely don’t require you to be a patient.

Join a group where you will meet other moms. My hospital had a postnatal class I went to for four weeks after my baby was born, and that’s where I met a few of my closest mom friends. And don’t be afraid to stalk them on Facebook. I did that with a woman I thought would be a good friend after I only met her once. It felt so strange, but she was grateful I looked her up and sharing on Facebook together really helped us solidify our friendship. I felt awkward for a few minutes as I searched her name initially, but it paid off sooooo much in creating a now close, dear mommy friend.”

Jennifer of A Splendid Messy Life

Tip 2: Put yourself out there.

This is easier said than done — I realize that. But I look at this in two ways: 1) You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the first move with another mom; and 2) Your desire to make mom friends is not unique. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but if you’re looking to make friends, chances are that the mom you see at the park or Target or music class is wanting to connect as well and feels similarly shy about reaching out. She’ll likely appreciate you striking up a conversation, asking for her number, or suggesting you connect via Facebook.

Two of my good mom friends have moved across the country with their young children. Understanding that you have to push past your comfort zone if you want to meet people becomes even more critical if you’re new in town.

After moving to Tucson a year ago and knowing no one, I was on a serious hunt for friends. Not just for me, but my daughter, too. And after being a reporter for 10 plus years, I have no problem starting conversations with strangers — whether they like it or not. I honestly remember getting gas one day and thinking “that woman’s daughter looks about Ellie’s age. Maybe I should follow her and see if she lives near me.” Hello crazy stalker lady! Ultimately, I have found the best way to make mom friends is by enrolling your child in some sort of activity. I’ve met some really wonderful ladies through Ellie’s school and her gymnastics class. All the moms instantly have something in common — we’re all dealing with the joys and horrors of raising a 3-year-old. Ellie’s teacher was really wonderful and helped make an introduction to a mom she thought I’d hit it off with, and we totally did. So don’t fear a little match-making. And the gymnastics class has the added benefit of being hands-off for moms, so we get in some quality chat time while waving to our kiddos through the glass windows.

Gena, Mommy Sanest contributor and freelance journalist

Be more assertive than you might normally be. We lived in three different places before my daughter was 18 months old. By that time I’d figured out that a casual meeting at the park or library could turn into a friend, especially if you have similar-aged children and live nearby. But you have to capitalize on the situation. Three months after I’d moved to our current home, I was walking my dog with my daughter and we happened across a family sitting outside their house. Their daughter looked to be about the same age, so I stopped to talk to them. It turned out there was only a one month age difference and we lived less than a half mile away. We exchanged numbers and we’ve now had several play dates. I’m not sure I would have run into her again by chance (soon after that the weather turned cold), so it was important that we exchanged numbers at that first meeting. I’m not that aggressive by nature, so it’s taken me a little out of my comfort zone to ask for someone’s number after one meeting. It feels a little like dating!

— Mom to a two-year-old daughter

Here’s another great example: My sister and her husband took a pretty big risk putting themselves out there when they threw my nephew’s second birthday. They’re also relatively new in town, and they decided to invite everyone from our daycare to the birthday party. We go to a home daycare with about 10 kids who are all close in age. I think it was incredibly courageous on their part — it can be nerve racking and I’m sure they worried about the other parents thinking it was weird or not wanting to come (we all worry about this stuff!). Three-quarters of the daycare showed up, and it ended up being a great opportunity to finally formally meet and talk with parents who we had previously only seen in passing. If you’re willing to put the invitation out there, people often will accept.

But you don’t have to be new in town, and striking up conversations with other moms can be casual. Tune into what’s going on around you — you’ll likely notice moms with similarly-aged children seem eager to chat. Have an easy, go-to opening line. When I see a mom whose child is close in age to my daughter, I ask, “How old is your little one?” It’s a good line because it can easily lead to a conversation or just be an off-handed question with a quick answer, but it gives you a chance to see if the other mom is interested in chatting.

I treat finding mommy friends similar to how I sought out my husband. Being open to talking with others when out and about and observing if we had any initial similar traits (a good sense of humor, laid back style of parenting, positive outlook). Oh and the best FREE places to make new mommy friends are the park and library!

Amanda of Queen of the Land of Twigs n’ Berries (a local blog for Chicago-area moms)

Don’t be afraid to approach a fellow mom and ask to exchange numbers! This would be mostly from the stay-at-home mom perspective, but also as a new mom — without work, school, etc., it becomes really hard to be in scenarios where you’re introduced to someone. One of my closest friends right now I met at the grocery store. She had a baby the same age, and thank goodness we approached each other and agreed to exchange numbers.

Nikki of MBA SAHM

Finally, when I went back to work full time after having my daughter, I felt like the opportunity to meet and bond with other new moms was slipping away. With the added pressures of balancing work with raising a baby and maintaining a household, it seemed impossible to make these new relationships a priority. But, I knew that I wanted to strengthen my network of moms who could empathize with my situation. And knowing that time is always at a premium for parents of young children, I decided to make an effort to seek out other new moms at my workplace.

Striking up conversations with other moms at work isn’t typically too far outside of most people’s comfort zones. But when these chats turned into longer conversations, they’d often end with a passing suggestion of lunch. I used to write these offers off as a polite way to exit a pleasant conversation, but I decided to start making good on them. Once I got over the initial hesitation of sending a follow-up email, I became more proactive with my invitations. I ended up with a few regular lunch dates, women I could commiserate with about work and motherhood, and some new allies at my company.

Tip 3: Go where moms go.

Some moms don’t feel comfortable actively seeking out friends or making the first move, but just going where other moms go will often naturally lead to meeting new people, even if your kids are the ones who initially make the connection.

My number one tip for making mommy friends is to go to the park. As a playground regular, you will start to see familiar faces and gradually get to know other families. And as you begin to teach your child how to interact other kids (Hi, what’s your name? Nice to meet you!) — you will end up modeling this behavior for your child, too, as you chat with caregivers. If you remember, bring along an extra set of sand toys or bubbles to share.

Jennifer of Flying Pinwheel Designs (adorable birthday party print-ables)

You’ll inevitably be surrounded by other moms and kiddos at the park, the library, indoor play cafes, and the zoo. You can also sign up your kiddo up for classes (think music, gymnastics, dance, soccer) where you’re guaranteed to be in the same place at the same time with moms of similar-aged children.

Tip 4: Don’t discount Facebook or your current circle of friends.

I was talking to one of my closest friends about her experience making mom friends. Our group of friends from the city has dispersed in every direction around Chicagoland, but we were very lucky that several of our pre-kid friends had children around the same time we did.

Even though we don’t live in the same ‘hood anymore, this has been a tremendous support system — nearly every one of us has had a friend on a similar pregnancy and birth timeline, and we’ve had the mamas who went before us there to provide wisdom and reassurance. Even though it’s nice (and necessary) to have mom friends in close proximity, text messages, Google chats, and phone calls from mom friends you’ve known since before you were a mom are worthwhile too.

Your Facebook network is another great resource when you want to make mom friends. My friend pointed out that she recently reconnected with an old friend when they realized (via Facebook, of course) that they were both pregnant with similar due dates — they suddenly had new common ground after having lost touch for a few years and are now in regular contact. When my sister moved to Illinois, it turned out that one of her Facebook friends, a contact from high school in Ohio, lived 10 minutes away from her new home. Not only that, she has a little boy the same age as my nephew. Finally (last Facebook example, I promise), with the help of Facebook, I realized that one of the women in my Fit4Mom Body Back class knew a very good friend of mine from college. This added connection gave us even more to talk about when we were first getting to know each other.

Tip 5: Keep in touch with the pregnant ladies you meet when you’re a mom-to-be.

When you’re pregnant with first child, you likely have something that you won’t have once that kid gets here: Time. Time to do things like go to prenatal yoga and birth classes and cloth diapering workshops (or whatever), where you’ll meet other moms-to-be.

Get their numbers. Friend them on Facebook. Keep in touch. I met one of my neighborhood mom friends at a prenatal yoga class, and I know plenty of women who put together moms groups with the women they met in birth classes. Even if you’re only going to a couple of hospital classes (rather than a longer-term class dedicated to a particular birthing method, like the Bradley Method or other natural birth class), if you find out a mom-to-be lives nearby, get her information. Send her a text after you both give birth to see how she’s doing, and see if she’s up for sitting around and feeding babies together.

Tip 6: It really is kind of like dating…

And just like you didn’t marry every potential partner you had dinner with, you’re not going to be best friends forever with every mom.

That’s OK. Some of these connections might end up being causal friends (or friends of convenience for a period of time), others might just be acquaintances. But if you’re lucky (and you probably will be), one or two or a maybe even a handful will become friends for the long haul.

All of these connections have value. If you’re putting down roots in a new neighborhood or want to feel more connected to a community, it’s great to know names and recognize friendly faces and be able to say hello at the local farmers market. Keep in mind, people connect differently at different points in their lives — the mom you didn’t click with at the park might become your ally during some PTO drama 10 years from now.

You never know, and it’s worth keeping an open mind, which brings me to…

Tip 7: Let go of preconceived notions.

Two people actually gave me tips that spoke to this idea of not having preconceived notions about other moms, and it really struck a cord with me. Here’s why: When you’re a parent, you have to make choices all the time. And when you’re a new mom, every single choice feels like a major, earth-shattering, sink-or-swim, screw-my-child-up-for-life or raise-a-well-adjusted-kid decision — and moreover, some people (I’m looking at you, Internet) would have us believe that whatever choices you make, you are in direct opposition to parents who are making different choices. It truly doesn’t have to be like this. We’re all in this together, trying to do the best for our kids, our families, and ourselves. Remind yourself when you start to fall down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and judgment (they go hand and hand, and it will happen) that there are lots of right choices — they just aren’t all right for you.

Share a bottle of wine. I’m only half-joking, but the best thing you can do is let your guard down. We moved to a new neighborhood almost two years ago when our son was about 10 months old. It took me a while to make friends because I commute into the city every day, and many of the moms in our neighborhood, who have kids the same age, stay at home. It took me a little while to let my guard down because I assumed the stay-at-home moms judged me for dropping my son off at daycare every day and working. It’s only recently that I started to realize we’re all in the same boat. We all have similar worries, frustrations. We’re moms. So share a bottle of wine, swap stories, laugh, and you’ll start to make a new friend in no time.

— Mom of a toddler

I think that for any mom, it is important to be open to the parenting styles of other moms. Moms can learn a lot from well, moms! Yes it’s nice to surround yourself with moms who are similar, but if you’re a mom, you know that every child is different, making every mom different. I believe that if you go into a relationship open-minded, you are going to get more out of it.

Jules of One Ruud Mom

Do you have other tips on how to make mom friends? Do you find connecting with other moms to be easy, or do you struggle to push past your comfort zone?

Serious Question: What’s Your Favorite Weird Food Combination?

Welcome back to Serious Question, a feature in which I ask a “serious” question and then answer it and cross my fingers that a few of you lovely blog readers will answer it too in the comments section. Be forewarned: This feature will at least sometimes tread into TMI territory. Lucky you, today is not a TMI day.


I have something to tell you guys:

My name is Lou and I love carbs.

Hi Lou.

Serious Question: What's your favorite weird food combination?

While the rest of the world goes Paleo, I’m bargaining with the gods of macronutrients… um, so what if I just eat bread like, say twice a day?

But seriously, while I’m not giving up carbs any time soon, it does seem that bread and pasta should be more of a sometime food, rather than an all-the-time food, and so, I’ve had to find healthier sources of carb goodness.

Enter the sweet potato.

I could argue that sweet potatoes are the perfect food (I could, but I won’t — we all know that the perfect food is Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream). But when it comes to stuff that isn’t bad for me, the sweet potato is up there: It feels like comfort food and tends to be satisfying, while its sweetness fills the sugar-shaped hole in my heart.

It’s not the fact that I like sweet potatoes that’s weird — it’s that I eat roasted sweet potatoes with hummus (if you knew me, you would know that I’m a bit hummus-obsessed). Right now sweet potatoes dipped in hummus are my favorite snack, which is kind of a weird food combination, don’t you think?

So what’s your favorite weird food combination? It’s OK, we won’t tell you it’s gross or anything, unless it’s totally gross. Should I try your weird food combination? Are you going to try mine? Is mine not that weird?

Get More Blog Traffic with These 3 Tips

Sometimes I feel like those of us in the blogging world must rely on the kindness of strangers to be successful and get more blog traffic. You know what I mean? You have to find your tribe, engage with other blogs, encourage people to share your stuff, cross your fingers that you’ll go viral…

And so on.

Get more traffic on your blog. Learn how to optimize your posts for search.

And I’m not saying these things aren’t worthwhile or won’t help you get more blog traffic. Networking is important in any industry, and the personal connections you make with people you would otherwise never meet is one of the things that makes blogging a worthwhile and fun endeavor. But last month, I started to think about how I could have more control over my blogging destiny. What could I do to get more blog traffic that didn’t have anything to do with how I was engaging with other blogs and bloggers?

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get More Blog Traffic

1. Write more content.

This was such a “duh” moment in my blogging life. If I want to get more blog traffic, it stands to reason that having more content would help accomplish that. I realized this in November when I participated in Blogher’s NoBloPoMo challenge. NoBloPoMo challenges bloggers to post every day during the month of November (traditionally it’s November, but Blogher actually does a NoBloPoMo challenge every month). My blog’s pageviews doubled in November in part because I was cross-posting on Blogher, but also because I simply had more content to promote, for the search engines to index, and for people to discover, share, and link to.

Duh, right?

But writing more also means that I have an archive of content, much of which is evergreen — more than two-thirds of my content is relevant year-round vs. content that is seasonal or tied to a specific event. I want as much content as possible to be read every single day. Typically 30+ articles a day get accessed on Mommy Sanest — I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but that’s one-third of my archive. Some are only getting a handful of hits, but a couple of those articles, even the older ones, drive 50-100 pageviews every day.

So if you want to get more traffic, try posting more. You have to balance writing more with writing good content — you shouldn’t compromise quality for quantity — but if you can manage it, try writing one additional post a week or every other week. Or, if you can, work with a guest writer or contributor to share the load.

2. SEO the sh*t out of every single post.

Last month, I decided that I was going to go through Mommy Sanest and search engine optimize every single post in an effort to get more blog traffic from organic search. Holy hell, this is an undertaking, and I’ve only been blogging for eight months. You’re reading post number 89, and I’m about halfway through my archive. But it’s been worth it. My organic search traffic doubled last month.

So, where do you start with search engine optimization? There’s a lot that goes into search, but to improve your rankings, here are some basics:

If you have WordPress and you’re not already using the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, go install it right this minute. I’ll wait.

Once you’ve done that, learn a little bit about keywords. Keywords are queries that people are typing into search engines to find stuff — if you can figure out what words people are using to find the kind of content you’re writing, then you’ll have a better chance of showing up higher in search rankings.

You’re going to want to get a Google Adwords account and learn how to use the Keyword Planner Tool. Go to Tools –> Keyword Planner –> Search for New Keyword and Ad Group Ideas, and type in the topic of your post. Click “Get Ideas.” Switch to the tab on the right that says, “Keyword Ideas.”

Adwords: Get more blog traffic

Here’s the thing though: As a smaller site, optimizing a post for a common search term isn’t going to help you get more blog traffic. For example, if I were to write a post using the word “toddler” as my keyword — even if I did all the “right” SEO stuff, I’d be pretty disappointed with the results — everyone, including approximately 1 million sites that out rank me, has written about toddlers. So what’s a small blogger to do? Long tail keywords. So for me, I’m better off writing about a more specific topic with a long tail keyword… such as…

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

You can also scroll down in Google Adwords to get ideas of what other search terms are being used. I tend to go with terms that get a few hundred searches a month and have low competition. You can ignore the other columns.

Keywords: Get more blog traffic

Once you’ve figured out your keyword, go back WordPress and draft your post. The SEO plugin should appear below your post. Here’s what mine looked like for this post before I added a meta description:

Yoast1

Type in your “Focus Keyword” (for this post, it’s “get more blog traffic”) then click on the Page Analysis tab.

Yoast: Get more blog traffic

The SEO plugin tells you exactly what you need to do to better optimize your post. See all of those red and yellow dots? The goal is to turn them green. Do I ever get them all green? No. But I try. The key is to use the exact keyword phrase throughout your post. The SEO plugin likes to see a keyword density of 1 percent, but I’m typically lower than that. Again, you have to balance good writing with optimization. At the end of the end of the day, you want a human to be able to read your post, not just a search engine.

Keep in mind, this is a very 101 version of search optimization, but it will get you started. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, follow Moz Blog. And if you’re looking to make money as a writer online (separate of your blog), understanding SEO is a legit skill, and it’s kind-of interesting.

3. Link to related content manually within your posts.

When you want to get more blog traffic, you not only want more users and sessions, you want users to stick around, view multiple pages, and read lots of content. This is why, as I go through my content archive auditing my pieces for SEO, I’m also adding links to other related-Mommy Sanest content within posts. I do this wherever it makes sense, but again, it’s not something that needs to be forced. Try going through your archives to see where you can point people to other content that might interest them. For example: Do you have a series on your blog? You know something like my Work | Life | Mom profiles? Add links to every post to each article in the series. It can’t hurt.

Doing this is different than installing a related content plugin — which don’t get me wrong, a related content plugin is valuable, but I find that the content isn’t quite as a related as I would prefer. I also find that related content plugins are becoming so ubiquitous that they are getting easier to ignore. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. I personally use LinkWithin, but Shareaholic offers a related post extension and so does Jetpack.

OK… that’s all I got for you today. Hope it was helpful!

Oh, one more thing… you know what else helps if you take on a content audit? A content calendar.

Just saying.

How to Host an Easy, Kid-Friendly Brunch

A few weeks ago, we threw a surprise brunch at my house for my brother-in-law Lars’ 40th birthday. Lars, my sister Sarah, and their son moved to the Chicago-area less than two years ago (they live around the corner from us — seriously, walking distance — and it’s awesome). After living on the East Coast for most of their adult lives, they are still in the process of putting down roots here, so we decided to do something low key, but still special, for his 40th that would include family, a few of Lars’ close friends, and the toddlers in our lives. Since we wanted the party to be a surprise, we lured Lars to our house under false pretenses on a Sunday morning for a kid-friendly brunch.

When you have kids, simple entertaining is a must. Use these tips to host an easy, anxiety-free, and kid-friendly brunch. I love entertaining at my house, but tend get super anxious about having people over — though I seem to be getting better about that second part. Maybe having a kid forced me to take my type-A tendencies (I have very few type-A tendencies, but this is one of them) out of my ideas about entertaining? I’ve also realized that brunch is the perfect time to throw an adult party that includes small kids — everyone loves brunch food, adults can drink if they want to (but people rarely go overboard with the booze), and toddlers are generally functioning from 9am – noon. Generally.

Tips for Hosting a Fun, Anxiety-free, and Kid-Friendly Brunch

Keep the menu simple and prep to a minimum. I always have grand plans when it comes to cooking, but the truth is keeping it simple saves time, energy, and anxiety (all things that can be in short supply when you’re a busy mom and have a curious toddler under foot). Here are some specific ideas:

  • Let your grocer do at least some of the work. Pre-sliced cheese, fruit that’s been washed and cut up, and my favorite salad — no chopping required — were all on the menu. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but a lot more convenient.
  • Two words: Breakfast casserole. I made two. They can be prepped the night before, feed a crowd, and get rave reviews. My family’s go-to special occasion baked french toast casserole is always a favorite.
  • Don’t do separate food for the kids. Breakfast food is pretty kid friendly — there’s really no need to do anything special for young kids.
  • Prosecco mimosas. Enough said.

brunch1

Ask for (and accept offers of) help. I put my sister in charge of the cake and then called her when I knew she was at the store to pick up cups and napkins — it saved me the trip. A friend offered to bring a side dish, and after first rejecting her offer — no, no you don’t need to do anything — I realized I was BEING INSANE, back-pedeled and said, you know what, that would be great.

Surface clean and close doors to rooms that you aren’t using. Wipe down counters. Vacuum. Make sure your bathroom is presentable. Don’t stress about the rest. Close your bedroom door, and be done with it. You’re going to have to clean again after the party anyway.

Maximize space by keeping coats and bags out of the mix. We have a coat closet, but it doesn’t fit 20 winter coats, scarves, hats, gloves and diaper bags. Usually I’m not smart about this, and coats get tossed on the couch and bags set down on chairs, taking up valuable space and time when things inevitably need to be shuffled around. This time, I made a point of grabbing everyone’s coat at the door and storing items on my daughter’s big girl bed, away from the party.

Designate a kid area (and maybe turn on a movie). My house is small, and the first floor is one open space. I decided that the best way to handle a kid-friendly brunch for five 2-year-olds and 15+ adults was to try to contain the toddler set in the front part of the house. So I did what any sane parent would do — I turned on Frozen and put out containers of toys and coloring books. Yep, no crafts or special kid activities to see here. The toddlers still roamed around, but that room was clearly their home base, and they were less in the mix than usual.

Set up food and beverages stations. With parties, flow makes a difference. Put all the food and drinks in one place and you often end up with everyone crowded in one area. My main food station was our kitchen island. The dessert was on the buffet in our dining area. Coffee and other beverages were situated around the kitchen away from the island.

Use disposable dinnerware. I know I’m not doing the earth any favors. But when you’ve got a crowd — and especially when you’ve got kids — disposable is the only way to go. Something like Chinet is biodegradable, heavy duty and looks a little nicer than flimsy, cheap paper plates. Plus it’s kid-proof. Definitely worth the cost.

Lars had no idea, and it was an awesome surprise — he loved it. We spent the morning eating, chatting with friends and family, and of course singing happy birthday and having cake. It ended up being a really fun, low-stress celebration.
 LarsParty1

Do you get anxious when you’re prepping for a party? What do you do when you’ll be hosting multiple ages? Anyone else a fan of the kid-friendly brunch?

You Have Kids Because You Want to Bring in Some New Team Members

 

wr59Did you watch the series finale of Parks and Recreation? I love that show, and I’m sad that it has ended. But it was nice to finally see a series cater to the fans and tell us exactly how every one of our favorite characters ends up — happily ever after, of course.

You can watch the episode online.

My favorite part of the episode is when April, Leslie Knope’s protégé throughout the series, asks for Leslie’s advice about having kids. For some of us, deciding to have kids (or more kids) is not easy, and it is difficult to understand why parenthood can be really great — especially when there’s so much stuff out there that makes it sound miserable. And it’s true that having kids (like many life choices) is a mixed bag — it’s great and it’s hard and it makes things more complicated and it simplifies other things in it’s own way. But you don’t have kids because you want a perfect life.

Right Leslie?

“Nobody’s life is perfect,” Leslie says. “You have kids because you and Andy are a team, and you want to bring in some new team members. I don’t know if you should have kids, but I do like your team.”

I don’t know if anyone else has ever put it this way, but it’s lovely, I think, and it really resonated with me. (Way to go, writers!)

We all know someone who is on the fence about kids. Maybe you are (or were) of those people. What do you think about this metaphor?