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January 26, 2009

MOPS -- Helping to Make the Best Moms

BLOG-MOPS Care.com recently announced a partnership with Mothers of Preschoolers. Better known as "MOPS," this is a worldwide organization for mothers from all backgrounds "who share a similar desire to be the very best moms they can be." Started in the early 1970s by a small group of friends, MOPS has since grown to include over 4,000 groups in the US and has a presence in 29 other countries. Each MOPS group is made of local moms who meet regularly to support each other, participate in community service programs, learn from each other, and develop life-long relationships.

We interviewed Shelly Radic, the Directory of Ministry Life for MOPS, so she could share more about this great organization with the Care.com community.

MOPS is about to celebrate its 36th anniversary after starting out as a single group of eight women—how has it grown so quickly?  
"MOPS provides community to moms at a time when they want to form new relationships and explore new ideas surrounding the amazing new life stage of mothering young children. The MOPS experience is so impactful to moms that they invite friends and start new groups so other moms can share this experience. Moms sharing MOPS with other moms is the primary way MOPS has grown."
 
What does an organization like MOPS provide that gives mothers of preschoolers something they can't find anywhere else?  

"MOPS provides an open, caring community to support a mom with what she needs to be a better mom in the early years of mothering as she lays the foundations for her family. Also, [it gives] the opportunity to learn and grow as a woman, mother, and leader. Moms often focus on the needs of their children, but MOPS provides a place where they can have their needs met."

Could you please share a couple thoughts on the positive effects of women joining together and forming the bonds as they do within a MOPS setting?  
"We receive so many great stories. Many moms find us through referrals from friends, but some find MOPS online at www.MOPS.org.

Here’s what one mom said, 'One day as I was pulling my hair out with a two-year-old and very pregnant with number two, someone on an online message board said to try MOPS.org. I put in my ZIP code, found a group two miles from my house, sent them an e-mail, went to the next meeting, and got connected with this great group of moms.'  

[We heard] another recent story from an alumni, sharing how even eight years after she graduated from MOPS, those women are still her closest friends and support system.

MOPS moms also find opportunities to serve together—making blankets for shelters or creating shoeboxes filled with gifts for disadvantaged children all over the world."

MOPS has gone international—where does it go next? What about parents of elementary-aged kids?  
"Due to high volume of requests from graduating MOPS moms, we are working on groups for moms with elementary-aged children and plan to launch that later this year. Moms want to continue participating in a MOPS-type of community even after they graduate.

Where else will we go? Where MOPS has always gone—to the next generation of young moms. We are constantly researching and thinking and planning about how to provide the MOPS experience to each new generation of moms."

How can someone get involved with a MOPS group? Do they have to attend a church with a group?  
"MOPS is for every mom, regardless of her religious affiliation or "mom status"—working, at home, working at home, single, married, teen, late life…honestly, there are so many types of moms the list could go on and on.

MOPS is for every mom that wants to be a better moms who make a better world.

How can dads help out with MOPS? Or a caregiver such as a babysitter or nanny?  
"Dads, caregivers, friends, grandparents can help out with MOPS by encouraging moms to get involved in a local group. As you well know, moms need excellent caregivers if they want to attend groups like MOPS, so they can also consider volunteering to care for children during group meetings."

If you're interested in joining MOPS, you can visit their website and use the ZIP code locator to find a local group. Shelly also mentioned that moms are welcome to join even if there isn't a nearby group or if they can't attend meetings because of their schedules.

Are you in a MOPS group? If you're a mother, what does the support of close friends and other moms mean to you? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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