I realize this is a very location specific post but I also feel like it’s a post I wished I’d read before I had Ben. So maybe someone will find it! And use it! Or maybe someone from another city will get inspiration or at least know where to start to find Mom friends in their city.
Finding Mom friends seems intimidating. If you’re anything like me, making new friends as an adult has always felt challenging. Where do I meet other women? How do I casually exchange phone numbers so we can take steps to become actual friends? It all felt so much like dating and without something blatant in common, it was a challenge (and one I’ll admit, I haven’t been stellar at).
Suddenly I had this very specific thing in common with other women. Plus a conversation starter! How old is your little one? BOOM. Done. Mom bait. Four minutes later you’ll be talking about sleep schedules or comparing notes on infant toys.
There are so many options for groups for Moms (or parents). What I found was that nearly every Mom who went to one of those groups was not just looking for socialization for their babies and frankly, they weren’t really there to learn (even if it was a class environment). They were looking for friends too. And suddenly there was no shame in being pretty open about it. “I’m here because I want to make Mom friends!” one Mom proclaimed, and each of us grinned slightly, knowing that was exactly why we were there too.
It’s so silly that it took having babies to allow this to happen. Pre-kid I’d have loved a group of like-minded, similar life stage ladies to meet up with and declare that we were all seeking friendship. Makes sense that I was in a sorority, doesn’t it?
Anyway, I think my biggest takeaway so far is that if you want Mom friends, just know that other Moms do too. And it’s okay to say so. You need people to relate to at this stage of life. Real people in real life.
Plus, if you dip your toe into one thing you’ll wind up swimming in lots of other Mom friend options. For instance, I started with one class and now have a much larger group of Mom friends because several Mom groups merged or activities overlapped. Now our email chain has over a dozen ladies in it all raving about The Letdown (It’s on Netflix. Watch it.) and proposing Friday brunch or promising to be at stroller strides tomorrow. It’s exactly what I wanted.
Philly is absurdly family friendly as far as cities go and we’ve got lots of options for places to meet other parents. Let’s take a look at just the ones that I know about. I’m only 7 months in. There are more! I’m sure of it!
7 Places to Meet Mom Friends in Philadelphia
Nest is a playspace and class center in Center City on 13th and Locust. Nest offers classes for parents and children including music programming, gymnastics, dance, and pre-school prep.
I took a class called Hatchlings at Nest. Hatchlings is for parents with children ages 6 weeks to 6 months and is a discussion and support type group.
I started going to classes when Ben was about 4 months old and he was actually one of the oldest children in the class. It made me wish I’d started sooner! I enjoyed these classes very much and found that we bonded quickly, as our course leader (a psychiatrist) led us through topics and check-ins. She also had a few different guest speakers come including a speech pathologist and a sleep specialist.
Our instructor shared early on that people used to meet for lunch at a nearby, baby friendly restaurant. From then on several of us met there before class each week. Now that the session has ended, a few of us joined Fit 4 Moms (more below) and still see each other regularly.
Overall, I’d highly recommend the Hatchlings class for new parents and intend to take the 2nd Time Around class when we have another child. I’ll also definitely be taking Ben to the playspace once he hits his toddler years (especially when it’s too hot or too cold to be outside).
2. Hall-Mercer Child and Parent Center
I have not taken a Hall-Mercer Child and Parent Center class yet but have heard nothing but wonderful things. Hall-Mercer is part of Penn and offers programming and support groups for parents. I first heard about this when Ben was in the NICU and one of the nurses told me it’s how she met all of her Mom friends.
Later I compared the classes offered at Hall-Mercer to those and Nest and found Nest more affordable and the timing worked better for us. I intend to take classes there now that Ben is in the next age group up (and Nest does not offer much for 6-12 month olds).
Through Fit 4 Mom I’ve met several Moms who attended Hall-Mercer groups and had all met there. Like my Nest crew, they all decided to start doing Fit 4 Mom as well and that’s how our groups kind of merged. All have told me that they had a wonderful experience at Hall-Mercer, though they did not have any guest speakers like we did at Nest.
3. Fit 4 Mom
Fit 4 Mom is a nationwide program that runs workout programs for Moms. You might have heard of it as Stroller Strides. Stroller Strides is one of the programs offered. Other offerings include Stroller Barre, Body Back, and Run Club.
In Philly during the Spring/Summer/Fall, classes are held at Schuykill River Park, Fairmount Park, and Hawthorne Park. Full schedule here.
Like I said above, in my experience, Fit 4 Mom is where lots of other groups converge but it also could totally be the only “Mom” thing you do and you’d definitely meet people.
I found Stroller Strides to be a significantly harder workout than I expected it to be. It’s boot camp style with lots of squats, lunges, planks, etc. interspersed with bursts of cardio. We’ll often run the stairs near the park or run with our strollers from one location to the next. It’s certainly never boring.
Naturally I was worried that Ben would have a meltdown or something during class but the instructors do a wonderful job of keeping the focus on the workouts and helping soothe crying kiddohs while mamas get their work out on. Ignoring your screaming (but totally fine) kid is also not frowned upon. I have found that most of the kids are so distracted by the movement and constant change of scenery that meltdowns are rare.
Intimidating as it may feel to walk up to a group of a dozen ladies with their strollers in a circle, I have found Fit 4 Mom Philadelphia to be nothing but warm, welcoming, and non-judgemental.
4. The Roxy Wednesday Babies on Board Showing
Every Wednesday The Roxy shows a new release movie at 2:30pm on a lower volume and invites parents with babies.
A few friends from Fit 4 Mom went and said it was actually pretty fun and that something about the darkness and sound kept most of the babies happy. It would be an easy place to see a movie by yourself and strike up a conversation afterward.
5. Story Time at the Free Library
I find that the children’s section of the library is a great place to spark up a chat. I was quietly sitting with Ben looking at some board books recently and he let out a giant burp and another Mom smiled at him and said, “Good job buddy, I bet you feel great now!” and then we got to talking. Because other Moms can appreciate the power of a good baby burp.
If you’d like more structure though, the Philadelphia City Institute (on Rittenhouse) has storytime on Friday’s at 10 and 11am. Story time is very well attended by nannies and parents alike. It’s a great place for some adult conversation, post story and sing along.
6. Baby Wordplay
Several friends have told me about Baby Wordplay Little Theater (the Graduate Hospital location) and based on the number of strollers outside during their programming, it seems to be quite popular.
Baby Wordplay puts on storyplays for different age groups to help children develop language and reading skills through reading, songs, and play.
Each storyplay is 40 minutes long and classes can be purchased individually or a pack of 10 for $100. Storyplays are $15 each or you may purchase $20 of books as your entry fee.
Baby Wordplay has Philadelphia locations in Queen Village, Graduate Hospital, and Fairmount.
7. Center City Pediatrics Classes
You don’t have to go to Center City Pediatrics to attend any of their classes! Great, right?
Some of the Moms that I met at Nest had already met each other at Center City Pediatrics classes.
I’ve heard good things about the Play Your Way to Developmental Milestones class (aka, tummy time supervised by a PT and an OT). For more lighthearted fun, they have The Lara and Joe show (musical fun) every Tuesday for $10 per family. Here is the full schedule of Center City Pediatrics classes.
If you’re a Philadelphia Mom, I hope I gave you some good ideas for how to make Mom friends in Philadelphia! If you’ve got more ideas, I’d love to hear them below. If you live in another city, maybe you got some ideas about the types of classes or events to look for to find Mom friends. Finding your crew and having people to relate to (or just other adults to talk to on maternity leave) can be a game changer for your mental and emotional health. Cheers, mamas!