MOPS offers a break for moms with small kids

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
Moms need a little nurturing of their own once in a while, especially if they’re only in their first few years of motherhood.

That’s the premise behind Mothers of Preschoolers, an international program designed to nurture mothers with children from infancy through kindergarten.

Started in 1978 by a group of eight Colorado moms, MOPS does the majority of its work through local groups like the one at Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church in Hillsboro.

Open to moms of young children both in Hillsboro and in the surrounding area, the Parkview MOPS group will kick off its new year Saturday with an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Olde Towne Underground, said coordinator Dana Maxfield.

After that, it will meet from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, starting Sept. 13, Maxfield said.

“The goal of MOPS is to nurture the mothers of preschoolers in a caring community of faith, encouraging friendships and creativity,” said Maxfield, who has been involved in Parkview’s MOPS program since her now 7-year-old daughter was an infant.

She said the program’s morning gatherings, with childcare provided by volunteers, meet practical as well as emotional needs for moms of young children.

Guest speakers present information on a variety of topics “relevant to the life of a mother,” from fashion to gardening to the discipline of young children.

Moms also work together on a “creative activity”such as a bracelet or a greeting card, to take home with them after the meeting.

“(Crafts) don’t take a lot of time, but they can feel like they finished something without their kids in the way,” Maxfield said.

The children are hard at work and play just like their moms during these meetings, Maxfield said.

“The kids are in a Sunday school setting where they do everything from a story to coloring pages, crafts, games, snack and singing,” she said.

“We do allow moms to keep their babies at the meetings up to six months old,” she added.

But more than all these activities, Maxfield said, MOPs is a time “just to get to know other moms in the same situations as you-going through the same night-time feedings, diaper changes, discipline and temper tantrums.”

MOPS participants can do this most effectively in the small groups that are formed at the beginning of the year within the larger Parkview group.

“The intimate and accepting atmosphere of a small group offers moms a chance to share their successes, questions and concerns,” Maxfield said. “They can just talk about the speaker, about how life has been at home and just get to know each other.”

At each meeting, a discussion leader heads up a 20-minute session for each small group of about 10 to 12 moms.

But the discussion doesn’t have to end when the moms leave the meeting.

“We encourage them to meet outside MOPS in those groups.,” Maxfield said.

She said moms can not only meet with kids in tow, like at a park, but also without the kids just to go out together for pizza.

Not only discussion leaders but MOPS “mentor moms,” usually the age of the particpants’ mother or grandmother, aid the moms during the meeting, Maxfield said.

“We have several of those who come to our meetings and just are there to give encouragement, to help welcome moms at the door, maybe to take their baby while they’re listening to the speaker,” Maxfield said.

In turn, MOPS also helps moms come together to reach out and help others in need, Maxfield said.

Past outreach projects have included putting together kits of baby items for a local group’s mission trip to Mexico and assembling Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes of gifts for children.

Maxfield said one of thsi year’s projects will be to assemble a care package for Matt and Judy Krebs of Hillsboro, who are serving as missionaries in Kosovo.

Cost for participation in the MOPS program is $30 per semester.

“We do offer scholarships if people are not able to pay that,” Maxfield said, adding that sometimes community residents have anonymously paid a mom’s fee.

“We’ve had lots of different arrangements that way, and that’s kind of neat,” she said.

Maxfield said she hopes moms won’t be put off by the church affilation of the program and the meetings, which do include prayer time and a brief devotion.

“It is not a Bible study, by any means,” she said. “Some of our speakers will have a Christian-based topic, but sometimes they don’t. It is a Christian organziation, but we try to stress just being the best moms we can be.”

For more information, contact Maxfield at 947-0166 or the church office at 947-2338.

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