Mo' Mommies is my personal account of motherhood meant to be a resource and a support for the parenting community. This has been possible both in person and virtually with Union Square Play, a "home away from home" where there are workshops, support groups, classes and thoughtful programming for both parents and children.
Jennie Monness began her career in early childhood 12 years ago after receiving her Master's from Teachers college, Columbia University. Her first job was teaching English to 18-24 month old native Mandarin speaking children, helping to prepare them for entrance to the most prestigious schools in NYC. She then became the Educational Director of several early childhood centers for 8 years, creating programs that used research-based best practices. Additionally, she taught as an adjunct professor for Touro College undergraduate students obtaining their degree in Early Childhood Education. About two years ago, Jennie decided to take a decades worth of knowledge in early childhood education, and share her learnings with new parents to educate and empower them through her blog Mo' Mommies. She teaches classes, speaks at events, and uses social media, to provide timely information about her own parenting and toy recommendations that new parents deeply need and desire. Her aim has been for moms to connect, support and empower one another She has co-founded a play space, Union Square Play, to bring these ideas to life through developmental, sensory, music and creative classes in addition to a thoughtful open play space. Her methods center around open-ended play materials and objects, so that babies can be engaged rather than entertained, creating their own "curriculum" and learning in the most natural, innate way. Due to COVID-19, she has launched USP Online to focus energy where parents need it most and now leads various virtual mom groups weekly. Additionally, she has created the content and curriculum in what was recently launched as the Union Square Play Packs, meant to support parents of children 1-3 years old with at home sensory learning kits. Parents can choose to utilize them in smaller learning “pods” as the boxes are meant to take the place of in person social experiences that young children are lacking right now but also to complement those experiences once early learning centers like Union Square Play do reopen.
Creating Mo' Mommies came from the love I have for not only infants and toddlers but for the mothers who bring them into this world. So many moms don’t know where to go or how to navigate this new role they are given. They spend their life planning on having children and then the day suddenly comes that they have one growing inside them. It can be an easy path there, or a more difficult one. Either way, the feeling is often, “now what?” Not only that, but 9-10 months later, their baby finally enters the world and moms need friends, support, encouragement and a safe, intimate setting to go to with their new babies. When Union Square Play (USP) decided to temporarily close their physical space and adapt their offering for online use at home, they wanted to include a way to foster the same sense of community among moms as they did when their Manhattan-based playspace was open. In pre-coronavirus times, USP Partner, Jennie Monness, founder of new mom resource, Mo’ Mommies, typically hosted eight-week in-person Mom Tribe meet-ups to provide new mothers with support from their peers along with advice from experts. A mother of two herself, including a newborn, Monness, definitely missed her tribe when the outbreak of coronavirus forced families in New York and beyond to quarantine at home. Hearing that many other women felt the same way, USP launched online Mom Tribes in March. Over the course of six weeks, over 100 moms have joined tribes for expectant moms, new moms, and moms of two. Each group meets on Zoom at a set time for four weeks and is led by Monness in discussions about life as a new mom, work/life balance, marriage, and how to make time for themselves. Because the groups are entirely online, USP has been able to expand their reach beyond New York, connecting moms from Paris, Texas, and California. Specialists, experts and professionals on topics such as sleep, feeding, physical therapy have also been incorporated throughout the weeks. Over 100 moms meet in 8 different groups per week (100 total, the groups are 12 max meeting over zoom) is led by myself in discussions about life as a new mom, work/life balance, marriage, and how to make time for themselves while also emotionally supporting our young children and building resiliency from the start.