BY MANDY CLARKE
In 2007, Nikki Wolf was a stay-at-home mom about to lose her mind. “I felt isolated. I’d just had baby number two, and it wasn’t as easy to go out in public with both a toddler to chase after and a baby to take care of. I needed a way to get out easily.”
This desire gave birth to Hoosier Mamas: The Bloomington Moms Meetup Group, a network of mothers who meet to share experiences, resources, advice, support, and friendship, created through the popular Meetup networking website that encourages neighbors to get together.
“I didn’t know other moms and was shy,” remembers Wolf. “If I were the organizer though, I figured I would have to say ‘Hi.’ It broke me out of my shell and made new friends for me and the kids.”
The Hoosier Mamas calendar features events two to six times a week for newborns through preschoolers and their mothers. Two of the most popular outings are a Barnes & Noble Storytime and a play date at Rising Star Gymnastics. There are also weekly walks on local trails and tours of local facilities such as the Monroe County Airport, Monroe County Public Library, grocery stores, and fire stations. Annual events include holiday parties, a summer kickoff get-together, and a toy drive.
The group also has book clubs, spa nights, craft nights, and dinners exclusively for the mothers.
In six years, membership has grown from 10 to more than 160 members, about 1,500 events have been held, and the group now has 5 other organizers in addition to Wolf.
“The group is a great resource to cushion a difficult transition into parenthood or a move to a new town,” says co-organizer Allison Dellion. “You can learn parenting tips and ask which pediatricians to use and which schools are the best. People often join when planning a move to Bloomington, just to use our message boards.”
Meagan Eller, a mother of two, attends an average of two events a week. “The group is a great way to make friends and to share experiences and resources,” she says. “There is far too much information online that seems designed to make moms feel inadequate. Connecting to so many moms with different backgrounds, challenges, and parenting styles counteracts those impossible standards.”
Membership is $12 per year. For more information or to join, visit their website.