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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

A new way for moms to meet other moms



lundy.jpgI kept seeing the same mom every day when I picked my son up from day care, and I wondered how I would get up the nerve to talk to her. She seemed friendly, our sons were buddies and we already had one thing in common -- kids the same age.

But how do you go from hi-bye in the parking lot to asking someone out on a (play) date?

I know how weird that sounds. But making new friends feels a lot like dating. You’re trying to figure out if you’re reading the signals right and if she likes you well enough to spend precious downtime with you. You worry you won’t have anything to talk about. You aren’t even sure how to broach hanging out (slip her your number and hope she calls?).

This is why I love the idea of the Small Fry Society. Moms sign up for a term, a set number of pre-planned activities that appeal to both parents and young children. It gets moms out of the house, encourages them to try local businesses and introduces them to other mothers in a casual but fun way.

Amy Lundy started the group last fall and is getting ready to begin her third term on Feb. 14, which will bring the South Tampa-centric organization further north and offer additional times to attract mothers who work outside the home. It's for mothers with kids up to preschool age.

Lundy is also partnering with the Jewish Community Center to add an educational component.

Lundy, whose daughter is now 14 months, was frustrated when she first started going to mommy and baby groups. Some seemed too cliquish, some were too costly and some were limited to one activity. She wanted an option where she could get to know more mothers and also try new, fun things.

Her first two terms went well, attracting about 20 moms in each. Feedback encouraged her to adjust some of the times to fit better into children’s nap schedules and mothers’ busy lives. And she kept hearing from parents north of Kennedy who wanted to know hey, what about them?

She’s come up with a schedule for the latest term that she’s really excited about.

“This term is the right kind of combination of the educational and social and fun activities,” Lundy says. “It’s so inclusive.”

The 10 sessions are spread out over 11 weeks. Half take place in the early evening. The others occur on weekdays during the days or on two Sunday mornings. There’s family photography, yoga, museum trips and music, as well as a girls’ night out (the babies can hang with dad that evening). Check them out here.

Four educational sessions at the Jewish Community Center’s north  and south campuses complete the term. Fathers are invited to these, too, and JCC sitters will watch the little ones. Together, parents can learn family financial planning, tips to pick preschools and kindergartens, nutritious eating strategies and the basics of children’s mental and physical health.

It costs $150 to attend all 10 sessions, and breakfast or light dinners are provided. Go here to register. A half-term is $115. Lundy is hoping to get 30 to 40 mothers to sign up and has thrown in an incentive for new members to receive a free manicure at Crave if they sign up by Feb. 13.
As a lump sum, $150 may feel like a lot of money, Lundy says, especially as families tighten budgets. That’s why she wanted to make sure moms who signed up got a good value, whether it is the free meals, the option to bring dad along occasionally or the access to museums or other businesses before they open to the general public.

Mirna Skinner, a mother of two boys who attended the first two terms, says she had fun with the activities -- painting, making pizza and, of course, the girls’ night out with a hot meal and no interruptions. She also felt like she had a lot in common with the other mothers, who enjoyed time with their children but didn’t want to lose their identities in motherhood.

Of course you can always make friends the old-fashioned way. I eventually got to know the day care mom when it became obvious our sons wanted to spend more time together. We planned a playground meeting, which led to a trip to the zoo, which led to dinners together and more play dates, resulting in fun for my son and a new friend for me.

But the Small Fry way can fast-forward through a lot of the early awkwardness. And, like Skinner says, she does enough planning and scheduling in her daily life. She enjoyed letting Lundy do the gruntwork.

“This was nice,” she says. “I didn’t have to do any of the work -- just show up. She’s taken care of everything.”

PHOTO: Amy Lundy and her daughter, Alexandra

--Courtney Cairns Pastor

Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma

[Last modified: Saturday, February 4, 2012 1:06pm]


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