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I hugged his preschool teacher hard this morning. It’s been a good year. I have seen my son mature, learn, and grow. It has flown by so fast. I can’t even believe he’ll be in Kindergarten next year. How do you wrap up a school year in one hug? I nearly was in tears as my 5-year-old son and I walked away from his preschool classroom, me holding his tiny hand tightly as if holding more tightly would stop time.
“What happens now?” he said curiously.
“Well, we have summer!” I responded cheerfully.
His little face contorted into a sweet mixture of wonder and confusion as he spat out, “What’s THAT?”
What a good question. What exactly IS summer? Disrupted schedules? Maybe. Jammies-all-morning? Yes, please! Daylight until 9pm and flexible house rules…ok, I’ll take it. However, one thing I have felt summer brings is the disconnect from seeing our friends due to vacations, summer camps, and the general lack of planning on my part!
Can I get an AMEN!?
(Summer thoughts from Lynne Patti)
This summer, the Kindred Mom team would like to offer up a way that you can still see your friends and even your kids’ friends throughout the summer. We are buzzing about our Summer Connection Groups for mamas and their kids! This is a chance for you to intentionally open up your home to your friends in order to press into community during the sometimes lonely, sometimes challenging weeks of summer.
Hosting a group doesn’t have to be stressful or all-consuming. The point really is to be intentional about drawing your girlfriends or mamas that may be new to your area (or new to motherhood in general!) in to some things you might already be interested in doing this summer. As a team, we have generated some ideas for you, if you find them helpful in your own Summer Connection Group planning.
What does a summer connection group look like?
There are no hard and fast rules! Your group can reflect your personality and desires. Different members of our team are tackling this in a few different ways.
One of our team members is hostessing a daytime “Coffee Hour” that is open for mamas and their littles. The time is centered around an activity for the kids and a chance for the moms to chat and connect (and drink ALL THE COFFEE). She has planned out 8 weeks of simple activities for the kids (skip down to the bottom of this post to see a few of her suggestions), and she provides coffee and tea, and asks the mamas who join for the day to bring a snack to share with the group to keep it manageable for herself.
If a quieter, kid-free evening sounds more appealing to you, curate your invite list and ask your friends to each bring something sweet to share. You can’t go wrong with a cheese platter and a few desserts. Center the evening around asking each other questions and getting to know each mama present. You could go through a book together (we highly recommend Shauna Niequist’s book, “Bread and Wine”) or you can simply let the evening breathe with laughter and wine. This is a wonderful way to deepen relationships with dear friends, new and old.
If you’re not sure about hosting in your home, you can set some dates/times for a nearby park (we recommend a weekly rhythm—same day/time) so people can plan ahead to join you. One of our team members is doing things two days a week, one day meeting friends at the zoo, another day meeting friends at a park for the kids to play and the moms to chat. Bring a lunch and some sunscreen, and have a blast together! You may be interested in the Summer Survival Kit we shared recently (scroll to the bottom of the linked post for a list of great summer gear).
The ultimate goal is that the mamas who attend would feel seen, loved, and heard.
However you structure a group, we want to encourage you to reach out this summer and draw your mama-community in close. We cannot do this mothering gig alone! Connection with other moms can be the difference between surviving and thriving this summer.
Five ways to make your Summer Connection Group great:
1) Set firm dates/times —Decide what kind of group appeals to you (daytime with kids, evening with moms, weekly or selected dates, at your home or at another location)
2) Communicate with friends (email your friends, send out an Evite, or start a private Facebook group to communicate about what you have going on)
3) Have available basic refreshments and don’t be afraid to ask to others to bring things (It’s great if you can let people know what you’re providing and let them know what they can bring to share with the group)
4) Decide on some activities to include — If you’re planning a backyard water-play day, most mamas will want to know that in advance so they can bring the appropriate gear. Roughly planning out activities will help keep everyone on the same page.
5) Be Flexible—Summer is a tough time to plan things if you’re hoping that everyone will be there each week. If you can make peace with the fact that the group will be different week to week because of vacations and other summer commitments, you can enjoy the time with whomever does arrive for the fun.
Some general tips:
Consider co-hosting your group with someone. This will ensure you always have at least one person there to spend time with even if the others can’t make it!
Set up the night before if you have a daytime group. Leaving the details until the last minute can be stressful, but if you can have your activities ready ahead of time, it can be a lot more relaxed as people arrive.
Think about your space and where people will gather.
Think about using disposable cups and paper plates to make cleanup easy.
Add a personalized touch to welcome the mamas who come. Set out some fresh flowers, use your grandmother’s lovely teapot or serving dishes, put up a banner—anything that brings a special element into your gathering.
Be sure to introduce people as they arrive so that new people feel welcome. Name tags are a nice touch if you know your guests don’t know each other well!
Here are some backyard activities you might consider for your daytime group:
~For younger kids~
Make sailboats with yogurt cups (and play with them in water!)
Create a sensory table with dirt and “bugs” or have each child bring a car to “wash”
Water balloon fun
Painting on a deck or sidewalk with water and big paint brushes
~For older kids~
Marshmallow toothpick tower creations
Have the kids make a fruit salad (wash and chop with a butter knife)
Make animal creations out of fruit and toothpicks
Ice cream sundae bar (each guest brings toppings)
String together pasta necklaces
Obviously, Pinterest also has endless ideas! These are just a few to get you thinking.
However you put your group together, please tell us about what you’re doing! You can post on instagram and use the #kindredmom hashtag (or tag us directly!) or feel free to join our private Facebook group and share your Summer Connection Group shenanigans there! Thanks for joining in!
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(Special thanks to Sarah Allard for the original idea to gather women together in this capacity!)