Story by Lois Ann Ell
It’s a Monday morning at Wailua Homesteads Park. The basketball court is filled with toddlers riding trikes and scooters, babies roll around on blankets in the soft grass, and grateful, smiling moms enjoy some sun, socialization and sanity, getting a respite from the often daunting day-to-day tasks of being a new parent.
“It can be isolating being a new mom,” said Sarah Dooley, organizer of this “Scoot & Shoot” play date and many other activities with `Ohana Mamas, an island wide group.
A few years ago when Dooley moved to Kaua’i with her husband and four month-old daughter Alana, she wanted other moms she could connect with, and was grateful when she found the group through an online search. She has since become an integral part of the organization, planning many of the activities.
`Ohana Mamas is a Meet-Up group, and an online tool and website for organizing groups and clubs. This summer will mark the five-year anniversary for the organization, which has over 180 active members. Membership is free, and there are multiple activities to join throughout the week, ranging from play dates at parks, beaches and member’s homes, walking and exercise groups, field trips, as well as kid-free activities like ‘Moms night out.’ Although technically the group is open to parents with children of all ages—in the womb to age 18—the majority of the members are new moms with children from newborns to age three.
According to the website, the group aims to “help mamas and their keiki meet other families on Kaua’i,” but Dooley explained it goes beyond meeting others and many times transforms into important and lasting friendships.
“It’s my social life,” she said. “These are the people I hang out with on the island…it’s our family.”
Dooley explained that meeting with other moms is therapeutic because together they navigate the many mysteries of being a new mom, such as breastfeeding and weaning; discipline, sleep, marriage, preschool and more. She added it’s a great networking tool for parents running businesses, as they can offer discounts and meet new potential clients through the website and through meeting and talking with other members. On the `Ohana Mamas website, there is a list of over 25 businesses offering specials for members, ranging from yoga and fitness; childcare, bookkeeping and photography.
Anna Bazalar, a new mom and yoga instructor was at the Scoot & Shoot play date. She said she tries to get out to an `Ohana Mamas activity at least once a week. She said that in addition to connecting with other mothers, it’s nice for babies and young children to become socialized as well.
As the rain drops sprinkling over the basketball court turned into a downpour, the mothers gathered their blankets and toys and packed up to go, smiling and satisfied from a couple hours of fresh air and support of those who are all together in the first years of motherhood.
Before leaving Dooley summarized the organization’s value : “I really feel like `Ohana Mamas supports the community, because happy moms mean happy babies.”
For more information, visit meetup.com/ohanamamas