An idea born in a hallway conversation has blossomed into a new support group for moms, both new and experienced, in University Relations.
UR MOMS (University Relations Mothers Offering Mothers Support) began when Heather Moriconi, assistant director of Stewardship Programs, and Jen Binder, administrative assistant in Midwest Regional Development, realized they had resources available all around them.
“There are so many valuable resources just in the women who work here,” says Binder, “and if you don’t see them or have an opportunity to chat with them, they go untapped.”
The group, which had its first meeting in February, is meant to give mothers of all ages a comfortable place to ask questions and offer advice about child-rearing and balancing work and home life. Anyone in University Relations who’s a female caregiver—a mom, big sister, aunt, grandmother—responsible for a child is invited to check out the group.
Binder and Moriconi emphasize that the group is about camaraderie and support. Meetings consist of brown-bag lunches, deliberately planned for lunch hours so moms do not have another after-work commitment to worry about. The two have planned monthly meetings throughout the rest of the year, with time taken off during the busiest months for mothers and University employees: April, August and
October. Many of the meetings focus on specific issues such as life balance, nutrition and stress management, with facilitators lined up and time for discussion.
“We’ve tried to organize some meetings at Eddy Street Commons, some at LaFortune and some at Grace Hall,” Moriconi says. “We wanted to make sure we were easily accessible to all UR women on campus.”
“It’s casual,” Binder adds. “We’re not here to cram these ideas in or make it too classroom-ish. We’re trying to keep it full of humor and fun. We want to make it feel like a break from work—it shouldn’t be another ‘have-to-do’ item on your list.”
They have found that the LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program resource on the Human Resources website is a great tool for mothers trying to balance their time between work and family. It offers articles, tips and help on a variety of these areas. The resource can be found under the Work Life tab at hr.nd.edu.
The first two meetings have received positive feedback, says Binder. “After our last meeting, I had emails saying, ‘Thank you so much, that was a great idea.’ I think people appreciated the lunch hour, the one hour on how to be a better mom, wife and employee."
“We’ve met a lot of moms with older children, and they’ve said, ‘I’m not sure this group is for me’—Yes, it is!” says Binder. “Just hearing what you have to say, your experience, is helpful more than you know. We need to hear from women who have ‘been there, done that,’ and know how they survived!”
Although the group is in its infancy, Moriconi and Binder have “high hopes” for its future. “I think it’ll grow as we go forward,” Moriconi says. “We’re thinking about a blog or an online presence. Down the road, we’d like to send out an email once a month with a quote, a joke or a recipe. We think keeping your sense of humor is important.”
UR MOMS was started specifically for mothers in University Relations, but the founders hope the group will inspire similar gatherings in other departments. “If you start to make it too large, you lose the intimacy,” Binder says. “That’s what I want to get out of it, that camaraderie and support.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the group is invited to contact Jen Binder at 631-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and Heather Moriconi at 631-9784 or Moriconi.email@example.com.