More than flowers or a card, what moms really need at Mother's Day and year-round is space to nurture themselves and friendships with other women. Ministry Matters recently interviewed women's pastor and author Tracey Bianchi about her new book, Mom Connection: Creating Vibrant Relationships in the Midst of Motherhood. (Listen to the whole interview here.)
Here are some of Tracey's tips for churches:
Give Moms a Gathering Place
Even if your church doesn't have an organized group like MOPS or Moms in Touch, you can create an environment for moms to connect. Where kids are, parents are, so some of the greatest connecting points for parents are impromptu gatherings, like a hallway full of parents waiting for kids to get out of choir rehearsal. The more we offer for kids, the more opportunities you offer for parents to connect.
Offer coffee in the nursery area where women are dropping off their kids so they can stick around a few minutes for a cup of coffee or tea and have a conversation.
Announce from the pulpit that moms are invited to stick around after worship in a designated area to meet one another and chat.
Create a space around VBS so parents dropping off and picking up their kids have a place to connect. If you have daytime VBS, have a nighttime social at the end of the week where kids can sing the songs they learned, you can show a video or slideshow from the week, and offer ice cream and playtime so parents can stick around and talk.
Give Moms Time for Themselves
Whether they are stay-at-home moms or work outside the home, all moms need time to themselves to recharge their batteries. Churches can help meet these needs as well.
Offer special events with child care. Have coffee and breakfast (or dinner, for an evening event) with a speaker, craft project, or just time to talk in an adults-only setting where mom can know the kids are well taken care of.
Offer a special time of worship. We took an Ash Wednesday service to our moms' breakfast this year, with imposition of ashes and a special area for prayer.
Some churches are organizing babysitting coops as a less formal alternative to Mother's Day Out. Put ten moms in a group; one week five moms watch all the kids at the church while the other five have time for themselves, and they switch off the next week.
Help Moms Prioritize Friendship
God designed us all for relationships, so that's in us, whether we're introverted or extraverted. Moms have their list of things to do—laundry, groceries, meetings—and friendships become just another item on the list. We need to reverse the priority list. Maybe we'll have to wear dirty socks or have chicken nuggets for dinner because we're going to spend an hour on the phone with a friend that "should" have spent doing laundry or making dinner. We need to reprioritize ourselves and our friendships, and the church can help moms do that.