Moms aren't alone, right? They have kids, husbands, bosses, relatives—a lot of people making demands. What they need is someone offering support. I've run many groups for moms, and many are reluctant to speak up when they need help or backup. They feel that they should seem self-sufficient and in control, although many are like ducks: they seem to be gliding over the water and are paddling away furiously underneath. It's easy to become isolated.
These women are setting themselves up for burnout. People with a community of support are healthier, live longer and have less stress. Lucky moms have friends or close siblings who provide that backup that keeps them sane. A problem is that many mothers need to work at creating a support network, and anything that seems like more work can fall to the bottom of the priority list. It's hard to have the time and energy it takes to reach out and follow up.
Some neighborhoods are friendly and child-centered, with local parks and playgrounds; some workplaces lend themselves to connecting, with in-house childcare or resources such as exercise rooms. These are fortunate situations for meeting other women. Women moving from full time work to part time work can feel especially challenged, because they feel they don't "fit" with stay at home moms or full time working moms.
If potential support isn't readily available, there are strategies. Moms can go somewhere where there are other mothers with children the same age. Even if it's only on weekends, being a regular at a playground or soccer game somewhere is a good way to meet. Mothers can hang out or go for coffee while their children play or take lessons.
Volunteering can work, whether it's on a school committee or a local board. Some don't make too many demands, and members spend a substantial amount of time talking, hearing each others' ideas, and getting a sense of who appeals as a potential friend.
A support group doesn't have to only include mothers. Doing something that's interesting or that provides self-care is a time to refuel and do something for herself AND she can meet people. The challenge is finding time.
It's important to find people who are comfortable and don't judge. Competition over the "best" child or "best mothering" isn't support. Women need to be interested in reciprocal relationships, not a one-way chance to vent. The level of relationships can vary: someone who shares an interest. women sharing survival information, like good babysitters, someone who can provide emergency childcare coverage, and women who provide a deeper friendship. All are valuable.
Mothers are also increasingly getting virtual support by turning to the internet, blogs and social networking. Sites such as http://www.workitmom.com/ and http://themamabee.com/ share information, tweets, forums, etc.
Even a phone call or text helps. Mothers are "giving" all day and night; if they don't have a chance to "receive" as well, they burn out and are less available, not more, to all those other demands.