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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Annandale MOMS Club offers fun and friends for kids and moms

The Annandale MOMS Club Halloween party.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom with young children and feel isolated, the Annandale MOMS Club is for you. The group has a fun activity—play groups or outings to parks or library story times for kids or get-togethers for moms—just about every day. The Annandale MOMS Club, established in 2007, is affiliated with the nonprofit, international MOMS (Moms Offering Moms Support) Clubs.

Members take full advantage of the activities for children at Hidden Oaks Nature Center and the Audrey Moore RECenterSometimes they take field trips farther afield, like to the zoo or a museum. And members come up with their own ideas for activities, such as cooking with kids, craft sessions, and “musical munchkins.”

Left to right: Annandale MOMS Club members Julie Goodrich with Josephine, Andrea Weiss with Reverence, and Kristen Torbert with Julia.
“I’ve never had to put my kids in preschool because there’s so much socialization with the club. It’s been a real blessing for me,” says the group’s president, Jillian Gardner, a resident of the Ravensworth-Bristow neighborhood in Annandale, who has a one-year-old daughter, two boys ages 4 and 5, and another on the way.

The activities are mostly geared for children from birth to kindergarten, Gardner says, although sometimes older siblings participate, especially during the summer and school holidays. Play groups for all ages take place on Tuesdays at St. Barnabas Church on Ravensworth Road in Annandale. There are small play groups throughout the week for specific age groups.

Most of the group’s 60 to 70 members stay home with their children full time, although some have part-time or full-time jobs. To ensure people don’t have to drive too far, members must live in Annandale (defined as the 22003 zip code).

Caring for babies and toddlers can be exhausting, so the MOMS Club also offers frequent events just for moms, such as monthly night outs; a weekly walking club; a book club; gatherings for working on crafts, such as knitting or scrapbooking; or a special activity like bowling, a murder mystery evening, or an annual holiday cookie exchange. There’s also a Sunshine Committee that coordinates meal deliveries for new moms.
MOMS Club members march in the Annandale Parade.
Most of the larger events are connected with a charity. Members who came to the club’s Halloween party at George Mason Regional Library, for example, brought donations for Operation Christmas Child. The Halloween and Christmas parties are the club’s biggest events, and fathers are invited to those, too. Some dads who are available on weekdays come to the other events. “They are absolutely welcome,” Gillian says.

One thing the group has not been successful with is having a babysitting coop, she notes. The club does maintain a database of sitters, though, and some members have formed their own informal arrangements for taking care of each others’ kids.

The Annandale MOMS Club is completely run by volunteers. Membership is $30 a year, and most activities are free or no more than $5 per child. The club welcomes new members. Contact the group for more information.

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