“What do I do when my kid…?” This question and its infinite variations is the reason you need a mommy mentor. A mom who’s been there, done that and can tell you all about it. Your go-to resource with those crazy questions.
Being a parent is tough, and there are so many unexpected challenges along the way. It’s easy to panic when things go awry, and even if you’ve already on baby number three, every child is different and has different needs. Sometimes you just need to have someone you can call so you can ask for advice, help, or just flat out say “Is this normal?”
Even if you have your own maternal figure (or your Mom) to go to with questions, it’s great to have a mom friend who’s a peer and yet also has a few more years of experience. Maybe your kiddo is five and her child is eight. You’re close enough in your stage of parenthood that she’s relatable, yet she’s still ready to dish out wisdom.
If you’re expecting your first child, you’re likely to have so many questions. Becoming a parent for the first time is intimidating, and there’s no book, podcast, or manual to help you fully prepare for raising a child. And once you have your baby, once you think you’ve got their routine, quirks, and habits down to a fine art — they grow up again and you’re back to square one.
For first time parents, you might actually be the first mom-to-be in your friendship group, which is bound to leave you longing for someone to share your questions and concerns with.
A ‘mommy mentor’ doesn’t have to be as formal as someone who you can call up just for advice. Finding a circle of moms can be a valuable resource, not only to hone your parenting skills but also to help you cope with the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
But if you don’t already have a village of moms to connect with, how can you go about finding them?
Here are some ideas.
What To Look For
There are no concrete checklists for finding your mommy tribe. You’re essentially looking for all the attributes that you appreciate in your friends, but someone who already has kids and knows the ropes.
If you’re in a select category, like a working mom, a single mom, or a working single mom — it might be wise to try and find other women in the same boat so they can understand your situation better and have personal experience and advice to give you.
But just because you don’t have identical lives, doesn’t mean that someone can’t give you great advice when you need it. Moms you enjoy being around and feel comfortable approaching with questions make great mentors. You’re looking for someone who’s happy to share her insights without judging you or discouraging your choices. To see if your parenting styles and personalities mesh, spend plenty of time getting to know each other and asking questions. If you have any concerns or particular challenges, see how she reacts when you ask for her help or opinions.
If it’s not a good fit, of course, there aren’t any set-in-stone rules about how this works. Maybe she’ll make a good friend even if she’s not the mentoring type or maybe you’ll just have to keep looking.
Finding Your Mentor
You can find a great mentor wherever you’d typically find a mom friend. Since you’re probably looking for someone with a few years more of parenting experience, think of places where you’re likely to encounter more experienced parents.
Here are a few ideas:
- Mom meet-ups, school gatherings, PTA meetings. Your mentor isn’t likely to have a kid in the same class, but she’s probably involved in the same school. Start looking for ways to mingle with other parents who don’t necessarily have kids in the same grade as yours by volunteering to help with all-school activities.
- Mentoring and support groups may be a fairly obvious resource, but they’re worth looking into. If you’re still pregnant or have a newborn, for instance, finding a breastfeeding support group might be a way to find another mom who’s a few months or even a year or more ahead of you.
- Ask someone. Your pediatrician might know of some local mom groups, or you could ask around at church. Seek out resources and events designed for parents, and take the opportunity to talk to people.
- Just like dating apps, there are apps for moms looking to find other moms to hang out with. Check out Peanut, a social networking app just for mom friends!
- Keep your eyes peeled for other moms who you admire. Maybe someone runs a kid’s clothing swap on social media and you’ve noticed that you have a lot in common. Or you observe another parent on the playground interacting with her kids and can’t believe how easily she resolved a stressful situation. Work up the courage to compliment parenting excellence and that can be another great route to finding a mentor.
It can take time to find the right mentor for you. Don’t stress if this takes a bit of time–after all, you’re trying to forge the right connections in your community that’ll help your family thrive.
Connecting with Other Moms
As you begin your mentor search, you can also turn to online tools as a resource. Researching people you’ve just met can help you gain perspective on their parenting and also learn more about who they are as individuals.
Instant Checkmate can help you connect with and research your neighborhood’s resources and find other local people. You can research people you’ve just met and even run background checks. If you find a mom you want to connect with online, always do your due diligence and run their name through Instant Checkmate first to make sure that they are who they say they are. Just like on dating sites, any social networking and meet-up site could have scammers or frauds who are posing as other people for nefarious purposes.
Once you’ve verified someone with a background check, you can feel a lot safer about taking the next step in your friendship.
It’s also a helpful tool to have as you make connections in your local community.