Most WAHMs find the burden of balancing work and family much more tolerable if they have a parent support system they can turn to in times of stress, to network with other WAHMs, or even get help with babysitting. If you don't have a support system already in place, you may be wondering how to set one up. Read on for some basic guidelines for forming a parent support system:
Find a Network
The easiest way to find support is to locate an already-founded group. It's worth spending a few minutes online to see if you can find groups of WAHMs in your area. Some groups use meetup.com, others are part of a nationwide network and hold local meetings. If you can find a group close by that meets your needs, by all means join in the fun!
Find Other WAHMs
If you cannot find a preexisting group in your area, then you will need to make one yourself. Begin by trying to find other WAHMs who might need support. You will find them through schools, churches, and other community outlets where moms often gather, like the local YMCA or youth sports leagues. Put the word out with other moms, or even advertise through the school newsletter.
Identify Your Needs
Ask yourself and your fellow WAHMs what kind of support is needed. Do you need a babysitting co-op? Perhaps you want to hold support group meetings, or maybe you want to set up activities for kids? Do you want to hold monthly meetings and have guest speakers? Are you going to collect dues? Start small and pick just one element if that helps. You can always branch out and offer more support services over time.
Delegate and Participate
Most support systems fizzle out because the members choose not to participate. If a support system is really important to you, then actively participate as much as you can. Encourage other WAHMs to get involved, and delegate tasks where you can. It is fun to get others involved, and it takes some of the responsibility off your shoulders. It helps to get other WAHMs to help by playing to their strengths: for example, a freelance writer might enjoy writing a newsletter, while a bookkeeper would make a great treasurer.
Use Available Resources
You can find a wealth of helpful resources online. Meetup.com, Facebook, and MySpace are excellent social networking sites that offer quick and easy ways to organize groups. There are many babysitting co-op tutorials and scheduling sites available for free, as well. Email makes communicating between groups quick and simple. Use these resources to create a thriving support system.
A parent support system can help you network, find a sitter, learn more about your community, and gets you involved with other WAHMs who share the same stresses and issues as you. It's worth the effort to create and cultivate a system that helps you and your fellow WAHMs.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.