For parents who make choices for their children or families that in one or more areas may be considered out of the "mainstream," Holistic Moms Network (HMN) may be a great resource for you. I heard of the group for the first time a few years ago when it was featured on a parenting show on PBS, and got involved with the group about a year ago when I founded a chapter in my area.
When I moved to my current home about 4 years ago, I immediately joined the the local MOMS Club. These groups can be great for making new friends for you and your kids. However, when I became a leader a year or so later, I became frustrated by the levels of bureaucracy in the group and the time that the national organization required of its volunteers to do activities that were necessarily what members wanted or needed.
I also found that as my daughter grew, I became more and more "crunchy." (What's crunchy? See my article on "Are You a Crunchy Parent?" – coming soon) Once I homebirthed my second daughter, I found that I couldn't go out to a playdate without being questioned about that experience, which was fun at first, but soon grew tedious. I thought – I have got to find a way to meet more families like us, and remembered the Holistic Moms Network.
After my previous volunteer experience, I was hesitant to get involved with Holistic Moms Network starting a chapter as there wasn't one close enough in my area of Greater Los Angeles, which is ridiculous traffic. But after contacting the group and talking with their founder, Nancy Massotto, I was pleasantly surprised. All the group required was a monthly meeting and a founding 5 members to be chartered, and from there it could grow in an organic way to satisfy the needs of members and the local community. As a leader, this is still my favorite part of the group – no time wasted doing newsletters that no one will read, or taking minutes or holding business votes. We spend our time doing what we want to do, and mostly building a friendship group of families.
As a member, my favorite thing is that there is no "holistic test" to be a member. In our small group we have members that represent every range of various spectrums – homebirths to scheduled C-sections, homeschoolers to public and private schoolers, full-vaccinators to non-vaccinators, breastfeeders and formula feeders, disposable diaperers to cloth diaperers, vegans to committed carnivores, Republicans and Democrats, atheists to neo-conservatives. Parents represent all sorts of ranges of belief and priorities in terms of not just baby care and parenting, but also green living, sustainability, cleaning and body products, sleep, discipline… you name it. The driving concept of the group is tolerance, open-mindedness and education.
Despite the name, Holistic Moms Network is also not only for moms. They offer family memberships which can include dads or partners, and many groups have grandparents (who sometimes join groups in a separate area from their kids, trying to figure out what they heck it is they are doing with their grandkids!), as well as interested community members. The group has a strong anti-solicitation policy – while the group welcomes local holistic practitioners as members, makes it clear the group is meant to be a parent support and friendship group, not a primary means to promote business or sell products or services.
Holistic Moms Network Meetings often include speakers or discussions on diverse topics in areas of conscious parenting, holistic health, sustainable living and more. In addition to monthly meetings, most groups offer activities like playgroups, hikes, park playdates, picnics, potlucks, destination outings/field trips and more.
If you know you are a holistic minded "Earth Mama," this group is definitely a great match for you. But it may also be for you if you are "slightly crunchy" – holistic in some areas and mainstream in others. You'd also be welcomed if you are completely mainstream, but interested in learning more about some of the topics I've mentioned.
To see if there is a chapter near you, or for more information on the national group or starting your own chapter, visit Holistic Moms Network at http://www.holisticmoms.org.