MOPS supporting mothers of preschoolers on their mothering journeys
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout’s Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) is welcoming women with young children to join their group, to contribute, learn and find support during their mothering journeys. Coordinator of Sioux Lookout’s MOPS group, Heidi Hochstedler said that mothers may deal with several challenges and it is important as a community to support them, especially during this pandemic. “We feel like it’s really hard to be lonely and we just feel like our group offers a bit of help for that.
“Obviously, it doesn’t fix everything, but we just feel so strongly that you shouldn’t have to mother alone, you shouldn’t have to feel alone on the journey, and we all do sometimes. It’s just so much better together.”
Hochstedler said that the format of their meetings is kept very relaxed. The group watches and discusses content pertaining to motherhood, that is shared with them by MOPS International, Inc. “But there is also just lots of times for the moms to just talk among themselves and with us,” she said. Hochstedler added, “So, just to provide a place where moms can come and have adult conversations, be encouraged and just be able to ask their questions about motherhood and have them answered and have somebody say, me too, I definitely feel the same way as you. I just feel like there’s a lot of value in providing a place for moms, and just encourage them, help them feel less lonely, create a community and just have a place that’s safe.”
According to the MOPS’ website, beginning in 1973, when a group of moms with young children banded together to share their lives and parenting journeys, the organization now partners with churches and organizations in over 68 countries, striving to equip and encourage mothers. Hochstedler said, “Our goal basically is to provide a place for moms to be encouraged, and find community, and be able to come and just know that they are not alone in their mothering, in being a mom.”
Hochstedler said that she, along with her peers, Andrea Cospito and Debbie Hochstedler, who assist her to run the group, wanted other moms to have the kind of community and support that they had found at MOPS. “All three of us had attended MOPS before and then just really missed it when we didn’t have it and it had impacted us enough that we felt like there was a lot of value in starting it again and just providing a place for moms to feel safe, known and encouraged. Like they have a community and they are not mothering alone.”
Hochstedler shared that MOPS follows the school schedule, thus starting each fall. Sioux Lookout’s MOPS group was first introduced in the fall of 2013, which ran until the spring of 2018. The group was on hiatus for a year. “So, we started in 2019 and then we were able to go until when everything shut down in March. Due to the coronavirus we stopped in March and then we were able to start again in September.” She added that it is important and moms need support, perhaps especially now.
“We’re still able to meet in-person, completely within code regulations. We are maintaining distance, wearing masks. We have the auditorium set up in a way that people are apart from each other. So we’ve been able to do it just because we have a nice large space, we’re able to make it happen completely within the regulations,” said Hochstedler. The group’s meetings are being held at New Life Assembly. Hochstedler said, “We just don’t want any barriers to people being able to come and be a part of it and we are aware that maybe the cost would be something that people couldn’t pay and so the church has just said that we’ll cover it. They did last year and they’re doing it this year. That may not happen all the time, but they really wanted to bless the moms in the community and make sure that there’s no barriers to all moms being able to come.”
Hochstedler said that MOPS also has a private Facebook group, open for all mothers that would like to join. “Just any moms that are interested in being connected are a part of the Facebook group.” She added, “It’s not a live event but we just keep sharing the same content in the group that we share at the actual meeting so that there is a little more access if moms don’t feel comfortable coming. So, we’re trying to do both.”
“This is hard, but we can do it. Moms are really strong. But we are definitely stronger when we have support and when we have community around us,” said Hochstedler. She recommends moms find child care for their kids and come out on their own to ensure safety precautions and for a more relaxing experience. “We did have child care last year but because of the pandemic we haven’t figured out a way to do socially distanced child care and so we felt like we weren’t able to offer child care this year.”
Hochstedler said that mothers who may struggle to find child care, might bring their kids along. However, “because our goal is for moms to be able to come and just be encouraged and relaxed, we feel like if they can possibly find child care and come out on their own, it may be more relaxing,” said Hochstedler. She added, “If any mom feel they need that, we’re there for them and we would love to chat with them and make space for them if at all possible.”
Hochstedler shared that since their reopening this fall, they have had a maximum of 10 members attend any of the meetings. She said that with the church safely being able to accommodate just over 25 people, while socially distanced, MOPS encourages mothers to join. They also welcome mothers to join their Facebook group called the Sioux Lookout MOPS, which currently has over 60 members. Hochstedler said, “If somebody is interested, they can absolutely request to join and as long as they are a mom and wanting to be a part of the community, we will happily have them welcome more in.”
“We would be so happy to have more moms. Any mothers of preschoolers are welcome. But definitely, we’re having to be super aware of the numbers and making sure that we can still set it up in a socially distanced way. So, we’re happy to have more people and we will do our best to making it available,” said Hochstedler. She shared that anyone looking to join may contact the group via their Facebook page or message Hochstedler, or the two other women working with her, on Facebook.