Community volunteering, doctors appointments, jury duty, haircuts. These are all routine activities that people handle everyday without giving it much thought. But to a stay-at-home mom, leaving the house for even the most basic task can be impossible without someone to watch the children. More than 20 years ago, a group of Memorial moms formed a babysitting co-op to help with this very issue, and what they got out of it went well beyond having a network of sitters.
Started in the ‘80s (and known at the time as the Memorial Hollow Babysitting Co-op), the Memorial Moms Association is a group of mothers with babies and young children. The co-op began when several moms in the Memorial Hollow subdivision organized a babysitting service among themselves. Amazingly, the group is still going strong in 2006, and although very different than when it was founded, the basic idea remains the same—Memorial moms joining together to help each other, and making friends, too.
In the mid-80s, Memorial mom Robin Bugge joined the co-op because she needed to find a babysitter. As a stay-at-home mom, she found it difficult to get out of the house to do even the most routine errands. “It was so great having the co-op and know that you could get away for awhile when you needed to,” Robin said. While finding other moms to help watch her children was a definite benefit, what she gained from the group far surpassed just finding some free babysitting. “The co-op was a great way to get to know other moms and socialize with grown-ups.” Today, Robin remains close friends with many of the moms she met there 20 years earlier.
Another early member, Roz Cooley, says the babysitting co-op was “a wonderful time in my life.” She, too, made lasting friendships and came to rely on others to help out when other babysitters were hard to find. “Mother’s morning out programs were very limited in those days,” said Roz. “I had many volunteering commitments, and there just weren’t any daytime babysitters available.” Joining the co-op meant that Roz could escape the confines of her house to take some time for herself to get involved in various activities. She has often wondered whatever happened to the group, and was thrilled to hear that it is still around.
While the group still exists, it is quite different from the way Robin and Roz remember. “When I joined the group in 2001, most of the members weren’t actually babysitting anymore,” Memorial’s Robyn Youngjohn said. The moms were still getting together, but most of the children were in elementary school or beyond, and daytime babysitting wasn’t as much of an issue. “A few people with infants and toddlers joined the group, but one common complaint came up. Most of the new members didn’t know the others well enough to feel comfortable trading babysitting,” Robyn said. So, the group evolved into a social group and the babysitting component disappeared. Recently re-named the Memorial Moms Association, the moms are still helping each other, but with friendships and social interaction rather than childcare.
With the recent influx of so many new families in the Memorial area, “people just really need new friendships,” said Erin Bounds, current association president. “It’s a way to meet people when you move into the neighborhood.” Erin is working with members to expand the group’s membership and provide what moms of young children really want—the opportunity to meet other mothers. Just in the last six months, the group has more than doubled its membership. With frequent mom’s night out events and fun activities for the children like an Easter egg hunt, summer swim party, and playgroups, the Memorial Moms Association is meeting a real need in the community.
The group is growing rapidly and Erin sees an opportunity to expand its function into a real community service effort. “We’re all part of the same community, and if we unite as mothers, we could make a real difference in our schools and neighborhoods,” said Erin. As for what projects the association wants to tackle, that’s still up for discussion. The group realizes that they can make a positive impact in so many different ways—whether it’s helping with schools, neighborhoods, or parks—and it’s just up to the members to prioritize and work together. Whatever direction is chosen, the Memorial Moms Association will continue to be a shining example of the help moms can give to each other and the community, while making lasting friendships in the process.
Editor’s Note: For more information on joining the Memorial Moms Association, contact Robyn Youngjohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.