“I got her number!” I mouthed to my friend in triumph, holding up my phone. We high-fived. As we watched our potential new mom-friend jog away from the playground behind her 3-year-old’s tricycle, a thought struck me: finding friends as a parent is a lot like dating. You’ve got to put yourself out there, ask for a few numbers, and know when to take things to the next level (play date at my house?).
It can also be really, really hard! But when you put the effort in, it’s so worth it. (That random mom at the playground? Now an amazing friend.) Parent groups, mom groups, and playgroups help make things a little easier by providing a space where everyone is actively trying to connect with other parents and make new friends. If you’re looking for a place to start, you’re in the right place.
Parent Groups, Mom Groups, and Playgroups in the Southwest Suburbs
Parent Groups in the Southwest Suburbs
- Southwest Moms of Munchkins organizes a variety of playdates and mom’s night/day out events. Before you can be added to the group, you’ll have to attend a mom-only or playdate event, which helps make the group a safe environment. It’s based in Tinley Park.
- Bibs to Backpacks organizes playdates, mom’s nights out, group trips to local attractions, and more. They also require you to attend a public meetup (their monthly Mom’s Night Out meet-and-greet) before officially joining the group. It’s based in Orland Park.
- FIT4MOM groups host playdates, mom’s night out events, and service events in addition to exercise classes (including stroller fitness, prenatal classes, and mommy & me classes) hosted at various locations around town. There is a fee for classes, but your first class is free. Check out these locations: Frankfort/Lemont, Palos – Orland Park, Oak Lawn/Mt. Greenwood, and Oswego Plainfield Shorewood Yorkville.
- MOMS Club of Lockport and Homer Glen Illinois hosts events like mall playdates, book clubs, workouts, library playdates, and more. Follow them on Facebook to see upcoming events.
Faith-Based Parent Groups in the Southwest Suburbs
MOPS hosts mom-centric programs at churches throughout the Chicagoland area. Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers welcome; many groups offer childcare! MOMSNext groups are for families with school-aged children. Search for a group using your ZIP code to see the locations nearest you. There are groups meeting in Joliet, New Lenox, Lemont, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Oak Lawn, Midlothian, and more.
Parkview Christian Church (with locations in New Lenox, Homer Glen, and Orland Park) hosts Single & Parenting support groups.
Other Ideas for Meeting Parents and Caregivers
- Check out virtual groups, too! Search for your town’s parent groups, mom groups, and even garage sale groups on sites like Facebook and Nextdoor. Many of these are good places to find out about local events and informal playdates.
- Classes for little kids (0-5 years old) can be a great place for making new friends. You’ll be seeing the same people every week (and making conversation while helping the kids turn somersaults/lace up tap shoes/sit still for story time).
- Try volunteering! Whether it’s with your school-age child’s class, the nursery at your place of worship, or just out in the community, volunteering is a great way to build deeper connections around a common cause.
- Look beyond groups for parents and caregivers. Meetup.com is a great place to find groups, or search on Facebook, local bulletin boards, and more. Play to your interests, whether that’s fitness, poetry, knitting, sci-fi literature, great coffee… find other like-minded people, and you’ll probably meet a few parents, too.
- Before winter break, the parents of one child in my son’s kids’ day out program left a note outside class with their names and numbers, asking other parents who were interested in meeting up to let them know. I thought that was brilliant.
- Don’t give up. It can take a long time to make those initial connections… and an even longer time before you feel a real sense of friendship. It’s not just you!
How did you meet your best “mom friend”? Tell us the story in the comments! You’ll find tons more ideas for getting out and about with your kids on Kidlist; our resources for families page is a great place to start.