When Barbara Jourden and her family moved to the area a few years ago, she didn’t know anyone.
She left a full-time job in Cleveland and took on the role of stay-at-home mom upon moving to Mansfield. At the time she had two children (she now has three boys, ages 6, 4 and 1-and-a-half).
The opportunities to meet new people were sparse, until the wife of her husband’s colleague recommended that she join the local MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) Club.
With over 2,000 chapters in the U.S. and even some international chapters, MOMS Club is a support group designed for the at-home mother, offering enriching activities for moms and their children during the day.
An at-home mother is “one who is taking care of her children, herself,” the MOMS Club website states. “She may have help from family or part-time sitters or preschool, but overall, she has arranged her schedule to be able to raise her children, at-home, herself.”
MOMS Club members may or may not work for pay — they could work part-time, work at home or work outside the home full-time with schedules that allow them to be home with their children during the day.
"It’s those long day-time hours that can be so difficult for at-home mothers. That’s why the MOMS Club plans virtually all of our activities during the day, when at-home mothers most need the support,” the MOMS Club website says.
MOMS Club of Mansfield formed in 2007 and currently serves families living in Richland County.
This group offers a connection point for at-home moms who are experiencing similar life stages and can offer one another support. Activities have included meetings with speakers, discussion groups, organized activities and outings for mothers and their children, monthly moms night out events, playgroups, book clubs, recipe clubs, park days, as well as uplifting service projects to help local families in need.
All activities and events (excluding the monthly moms night out) take place during the day. Moms Club of Mansfield typically plans two-three activities a week, which could include visiting the local parks, Kingwood Center Gardens, Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, Richland Carrousel Park, among other kid-friendly venues.
Jourden, who serves as the group’s president, called the group “life-saving,” as it gave her an opportunity to get out of the house, meet other people and learn about the area.
“With little kids it's hard to get out of the house sometimes, plus I didn’t know kid-friendly places to take them,” she said.
Amy Hiner, club treasurer/secretary, faced a similar situation as Jourden. Upon moving to the area three years ago, she too, didn’t know many people until she joined MOMS Club.
“It was fantastic because I got to know all of Richland County through MOMS Club,” she said.
Events and activities are planned by the MOMS Club board.
Monthly meetings take place the final Wednesday of each month from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check the Facebook page for details, as locations vary.
Register to become a member by attending the monthly meeting, sending a message via Facebook or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual dues cost $20. Click here for a breakdown of what membership fees cover. There are options available if you cannot afford the annual dues. If the dues are prohibiting you from joining, email email@example.com. All requests will be kept confidential.
Members have access to the group’s private Facebook page, which posts information on upcoming activities.
Hiner, a mother of a 6-year-old and 2-year-old, said MOMS Club is a great time for both moms and kids to socialize.
“Those are really the friendships that I’ve formed here that make me want to stay here and make me love Mansfield because it is like your own little tribe,” she said.
Plus, it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off each other, she added.
“There’s always good advice and support,” Jourden affirmed. “I know I can reach out to pretty much any of them and say, ‘Help!’ and I know they've got me.”
Genuine friendships have blossomed thanks to MOMS Club and last even when members’ kids age out and no longer participate.
On top of sharing advice on child-rearing, they support one another in different ways, like providing meals for moms who just had a baby.
They also make sure to support other families in the community who are in need. For the last couple of years, the group has provided local families with food during wintertime, and this past year they bought Christmas presents for a single mom and her three children.