MANATEE COUNTY — East County residents Jennifer Barker and Susan Whiddon insist stay-at-home moms need play dates as much as their children.
To that end, the moms are launching a new group for mothers of elementary-age children called MOMSnext. The group holds its first meeting from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Sept. 17, at Braden River United Methodist Church. At each meeting, mothers gather for snacks, socializing, crafts and a chance to learn about issues pertaining to their children. Cost is $5 per month and there is a one-time $24 registration fee with MOPS International, the program’s parent organization. Subsequent meetings will be held the third Thursday of every month.
“We have a lot of fun together,” Whiddon said. “It’s a relaxing time. No stress. It’s also a good opportunity to get information from parents at other schools. You can bounce ideas off each other.”
The group also gives stay-at-home moms, in particular, a sense of identity formed by being themselves, rather than based on their motherhood, Whiddon said.
As longtime members of the local Mothers of Preschoolers group, Whiddon and Barker know the benefits of getting together with other mothers. They said they have formed many good friendships and learned valuable parenting information throughout the years and were distraught to learn they were graduating out of the MOPS program.
“There’s so much out there once you have little ones, but there isn’t much (after your children start school),” Barker said.
Whiddon learned of MOPSnext, MOPS International’s newly formed organization for mothers of elementary-age children, by accident after seeing an ad on the back of a magazine she was throwing out.
“I researched it and called them,” Whiddon said. “This is the first year they’ve done it.”
She and Barker hope the new group will help mothers with the new issues arising as their children start their educational journeys.
“It’s a whole different group of issues when your kids start school,” Whiddon said. “For example, now your child is bringing home homework. There’s extra clubs after school, testing, maybe even athletics.”
At the first meeting, Whiddon, a former teacher at Gene Witt Elementary, will speak on parent-teacher communication and relationships.
Eventually, Whiddon and Barker would like MOMSnext to do community service projects with other local moms who need assistance, they said.
The women also are looking for other moms to join the new group’s steering committee, bringing their gifts and talents to help make the group as successful as possible.
“We’re excited about it,” Whiddon said. “It’s a new experience.”
For more information, call MOMSnext at 753-1250 or 746-8599.
Contact Pam McTeer at email@example.com.
WHAT: A group for mothers of elementary-aged children
WHEN: First meeting is Sept. 17. Will meet from 9:30-11:30 a.m., every third Thursday of the month.
WHERE: Braden River United Methodist Church, 5858 44th Ave. E., Bradenton
COST: $5 per month plus a one-time $24 registration fee with MOMSnext (MOPS International).
INFO: Jennifer Barker, 753-1250 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Whiddon, 746-8599 or email@example.com