Group arranges playdates with moms

Clubs give stay-at-home mothers a chance to socialize, find playmates for children

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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On th Web

For information about the west Vancouver MOMS Club chapter, visit http://momsclubofvancouverwest.weebly.com.

For information about the southeast Vancouver MOMS Club chapter, visit http://momsclubvancouversouth.weebly.com.

To find a Moms Club chapter, visit http://www.momsclub.org.

In the rainy season, days at home with young children can drag on and on with little reprieve. A walk to the park? The slide and swings are too wet. A trip to OMSI? That means contending with weekday Portland traffic. A couple dozen stay-at-home moms in west Vancouver found their solution in MOMS Club. It meets weekly in the auditorium of a church on Main Street during the winter, so moms can chat with each other while their kids run around and play. In the summer, the club meets in parks.

“Dealing with social isolation is big for me,” said Jamie Rivers, a 31-year-old Hazel Dell resident holding her 8-month-old daughter. “It’s great to know I can go somewhere and have people to talk to that don’t go ‘ba, ba, ba,’”

The west Vancouver group and its sister club in southeast Vancouver also offer an array of outings for moms and their children, as well as moms’ nights out.

On a recent Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, moms equipped with baby bottles, sippy cups, baggies of crackers and travel mugs of coffee sat around a table to talk about potty training. Their conversation played out in a staccato rhythm as they stopped to interrupt rough play or respond to children’s requests.

Sara Logston, 31, sought out the group a couple of years ago.

“I was looking for a group where my son could get out and play with other kids, and I could talk to other moms, but we could still be together,” she said.

She appreciates that the group takes on community service projects. On a recent Tuesday, members collected food for Open House Ministries.

Tammi Landis attended MOMS Club of Vancouver-South before she founded the west Vancouver chapter in 2007. Landis’ children are now in school, so she no longer participates in either group, but she said she’s grateful for the eight years she spent in the clubs.

“I have left with so much — the friendships and the wonderful experience of raising my little boys in a safe, healthy, active group that cares about its community,” Landis said.

Joy Lyons, president of the west Vancouver MOMS Club, said the group has provided the structure she needed in the open-ended job of a stay-at-home mother.

She moved to Vancouver from Alaska in 2007. A former social worker, Lyons was used to working outside the home. She was new to town, staying home with a baby and a 3-year-old, and she hadn’t made friends.

“I was very, very depressed. It was very difficult to find my place,” said Lyons, 37. Once she joined MOMS Club, she knew she had someplace to go every Tuesday, and a network of moms with whom she could compare notes.

“The most draw we have is people new to town,” Lyons said. “They sign up because they want to find friends and learn the community.”

Michelle Rilling, 40, already lived in Vancouver, but when she had her daughter four years ago, most of her friends had either elected to stay childless or had older children. MOMS Club was her way to find others in the same stage of motherhood.

Rilling works 12 hours a week as a nurse, but she said she feels like “a full-time mom with a job on the side.”

She appreciates the chance to get out of the house with her daughters, ages 4 and 2.

“I get a safe place for kids to play and make relationships and community of moms that’s really supportive,” Rilling said. “It’s a good opportunity to get out the door and talk with moms going through the same thing.”