Christa Melynk Hines, one of our cool Squad writers, has a new ebook! Confidently Connected: A Mom's Guide to a Satisfying Social Life launched earlier this month. Whether you're a brand new mom, a veteran mom, or you fall somewhere in the middle, Christa has gathered practical tips show moms how to stay connected in their community — face-to-face with with savvy use of social media.
Christa answered some questions about her new book and what led her to write it.
1. Was your decision to write this book for moms influenced by your own experiences? How so?
Yes, I experienced two pivotal moments. First as a new mother who didn't have the first hot clue about how to find other moms who stayed at home with their children. I didn't even know how to find a babysitter much less friends who could relate to what I was going through at the time. I felt very isolated, uncertain and depressed. I loved spending my days with my son, but I also craved adult interaction and we needed activities to get us out of the house during the week. I was overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin. Joining a moms' group made a huge difference for my quality of life and emotional health.
The second moment occurred when we relocated to a new community. My second son had just been born. So now I was a new mom again with a two-year-old in tow in a house I was trying to set up and in an unknown city. My husband also traveled a lot, and I was again feeling lost and overwhelmed. This time, based on what I learned from the moms group I was in before we moved, I had a better idea of the type of group I wanted to participate in. The group ended up being an extremely valuable and supportive resource for me. I still have good friends from that mothers' group.
2. You spoke with lots of other moms while working on your book. What was their greatest social need?
I found that for many moms their greatest social need was finding other moms who they felt a connection with and enjoyed hanging out with. Feeling a sense of support in a non-judgmental atmosphere is very important to most of us because we're all trying to figure out how to be the best moms that we can be. We all make mistakes. If you can find other moms to share your fears, worries, and laughter, you feel so much more confident and better able to handle the curveballs that parenting throws your way.
3. What's the best way for moms to avoid the judging/comparing/insecurity that sometimes happens when they leave the house and take on the town with kiddos in tow?
There's no simple answer. I'm always amazed how people feel like it's perfectly OK to say things to a mom with no regard for how that might make her feel. They have no idea about your specific situation or what's going on with your children. I had a woman chastise me in a store a few weeks after my son was born because I'd taken him out in public, and she felt that newborns should be kept at home for the first six weeks of life. It wasn't like I was passing him around a room for strangers to hold. He was snug as a bug in his carrier.
Unfortunately, there's no way to avoid rude people, but we can take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can in that moment. I find it very reassuring to talk through these events with a friend, and I think most women can relate. Also, comparing yourself to other moms is a losing battle. The truth is none of us really knows what life is like for another mom; even if she looks perfectly put together, she may be struggling. And rather than judging a mom, consider that we all get our turn experiencing embarrassing, very public outbursts courtesy of our children. A kind word or a supportive smile can make a world of difference to a mom who is having a rough day.
4. What bonus tips can you offer moms to help encourage harmony at home, while also making sure they're not starving their social life?
Balance and communication is key. Talk to your partner about your needs. We are multidimensional people with lots of interests and roles. Don't give up the things you love because one of your roles is mothering. You are a better parent if you complement your life with people and activities that energize and inspire you.
From a practical standpoint, rather than assuming your spouse should understand your needs, discuss your calendars each week and decide how you can share family responsibilities. Also recognize when it's time to pull back from certain volunteer roles or from draining people. One week may be busier than another, but if you're finding that your social commitments are in overdrive, that's not quality living either.
Moms are already too busy to expend energy on activities that make them feel rundown, anxious, or stressed. Set firm boundaries to protect your priorities. Our marriages and our children are too important to be sacrificed to a hyperactive social calendar.