MomsBloom, building strong families – through peer support and advocacy – to successfully navigate the challenges of early motherhood.
The thought has probably run through your mind many times: “It is tough to be a parent in today’s culture.” Our society is experiencing rising divorce rates, increasing child abuse, and widespread emotional stress. Parenting looks daunting in the face of these challenges.
However, these things are not really causes of parenting challenges…they are symptoms. What is the cause? One part of it is this: we have become a culture of individuals who are trying (and failing) to do work alone that can more effectively be done through community. We keep setting parenting expectations higher, while increasing isolation and eliminating support. Rising stress and decreasing support create a gaping emotional void, which fosters a ripe environment for the challenges listed above.
MomsBloom resets the expectation meter for parents. Then we reinstate the support network to help parents meet a more realistic set of expectations. The goal is not for mom to be superwoman. The goal is not to be a perfect parent. The goal is to have a healthy, well-adjusted mom who can raise her child using her individual skills as well as the knowledge and support of the broader community.
What Is the Need?
A baby arrives, and life on the alien planet begins. Sleep? Forget it! Taking a shower? Not if you’re home alone. Time for meaningful conversation? In between diapers and feeding. Crying, colic, feeding issues, hormone changes, pressure at work, stress at home, financial challenges – mix these ingredients together for just a week and you’ll find that the “newborn cocktail” can rapidly drive a normally self-confident person to feel overwhelmed and unfit.
It should not be surprising that 80% of moms (and a good number of dads) experience what is called the “baby blues.” Mood swings and weepiness are fairly normal responses to a lack of sleep, major physical changes, a demanding infant and huge responsibility.
Sometimes the blues resolve themselves. But increasingly, they do not. They escalate, leading to depression and more serious individual and family issues between mom and dad, parents and children, brothers and sisters.
Someone needs to put the brakes on that downward cycle before it escalates, by giving mom the confidence to ask for help, and the resources to provide that help when she asks. That is the role of MomsBloom.
What Is Our Solution?
MomsBloom provides three things: weekly assistance with whatever tasks or chores are most pressing; a connection to other parents and resources; and fact-based education that gives moms the confidence to make their own choices about child-rearing.
MomsBloom has a cadre of trained volunteers who can be matched with a family that’s looking for help. Our volunteers are carefully interviewed, background checked and trained. Then we choose the best fit for each family that calls. The volunteer arranges a schedule with mom, and will do whatever is helpful at that particular moment in time, whether it’s washing dishes or entertaining older siblings or just watching the baby so mom can have some private time. Typically a volunteer commits to a 6-12 week stint with each family. We don’t bring a preset list of “solutions”: we simply bring a willing heart and ready hands to do whatever needs doing. In the process, we are helping mom to become confident in her role and adjust to the new routine.
Second, we connect moms to other resources who can become part of their network. That might be other moms; it might be a mentor; it might be a support group of some sort. This is especially important for moms who are new to the area, or who are suffering especially painful circumstances such as stillbirth or depression. It can be challenging to fit into a tight-knit community like West Michigan unless you have someone to break the ice for you. MomsBloom provides ways for moms to create their own networks for personal fulfillment as well as support.
And third, we provide education and facts that help mom make her own parenting choices. An ocean of information floods new parents…well-meaning moms, aunts and sisters who think there’s only one way to take care of a child, conflicting myths about sleeping positions and feeding, and all the other concerns related to a newborn. We gently coach moms with the facts, and also help them learn how to talk with dads and other family members about caring for the child. This allows them to make decisions based on facts and their own instincts. Essentially, it equips mom to feel confident in how she is caring for her child. We can also reassure her that the stress and fear are normal….she’s not crazy!
How Do We Help?
MomsBloom and the Flourishing Families program provides tangible, concrete support at no charge to approximately 250 families per year, and the demand keeps skyrocketing. We are that extra pair of hands, the listening ear, that source of advice that many parents need once a little one comes home.
But the other, very real benefit of MomsBloom is much more intangible. How do you describe the emotional relief that comes from venting fears and gratefully accepting a bit of help? How do you measure a blossoming mother-child relationship as mom gradually becomes more confident in her abilities and comfortable with the routine? How do you begin to explain the difference in a marriage that a happier mom makes for dad, who has his own stresses and fears? How do you measure the impact that MomsBloom has in preventing the risk of child abuse that is born of frustration or isolation?
The fact is this: all of us are connected. When mom is scared, depressed and frustrated, those feelings have a ripple effect on the rest of the family. But when mom is confident, happy and fulfilled, her attitude pollinates family life with joy and happiness. She blooms, and so does the family around her.
A few quotes from families who have used MomsBloom services:
“This is a wonderful program. Having help has been invaluable. It is amazing how having the extra support for a few hours changed my whole week.”
“We are a happier and more relaxed family.”
“I have a more positive view of the Grand Rapids community and the type of social support available because of MomsBloom.”
“We made a smoother transition into parenthood.”
“I did not feel so alone.”
“My husband and I feel less stressed together, since I have an outlet and support in addition to him.”
Contact MomsBloom at: 616-828-1021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!