BY RACHEL HOEING WITH TRIAD MOMS ON MAIN
Moms need “friend time.” It is a proven fact! Time with other women makes us better mothers. A few hours with your girlfriends can send you back home rejuvenated and ready to take on any motherly task that comes your way. There are so many social outlets that can prove beneficial to moms, such as supper clubs, book clubs, Bunco groups, Bible studies, running groups, and breakfast clubs.
All of these groups are terrific, but what I like most about a Book Club is that it gives you time to laugh and socialize, but also uses the intellectual side of your brain! I love to read, but if I don’t have someone holding me accountable, it often becomes last on my list. Book Club makes me reserve that time for myself. If you aren’t into books, I would suggest one of the other groups mentioned above, because for book club, it seems to always work best when members actually read the book and talk about it!
I have been in a couple of different book clubs over the years, and below are some tips I have put together based on what worked best!
~ Start by e-mailing maybe 5–6 friends to see if they would like to join the book club. Then, have each of those women ask a friend. This way, you have a mix of women, and you will get to meet new ladies!
~ An ideal number of book club members is 12. Usually, you will end up with about 8–10 who can attend each meeting, which is not too small, but not too large. If you have more than 12 at once, it is tough to keep everyone in the same conversation.
~ Find a common day of the week that works well for most people to meet. (If you have never used doodle.com, this is the best way to plan anything with a group!) For working mothers, a 7 pm start time has always seemed to work best. If you end up with moms who do not work outside the home, a morning time or lunch date can always be fun.
~ If your women are raring to go, once a month meetings are great, but in our groups, we found that every other month worked best. It gave us more time to read the book and also made it more likely that most members could attend.
~ We like using co-hosts. The co-hosts split all costs, provide all food, and can choose either person’s home to host. Each year we pass around a sign-up sheet (or use www.signupgenius.com), so that you can choose the month that works best for you. If you end up with 12 women, meeting every other month and using co-hosts, you only host once each year. All the other meetings, you get to just show up and relax!
~ When it is your turn to host, you can serve apps, desserts, a meal, snacks—whatever you choose! We also ask that the hosts provide a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Often we have served food that coincided with the book. (e.g., we read a book about a family of women in Mexico and hosted it on Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican fiesta)
~ It is also one of the host’s responsibilities to e-mail the group to remind them of the upcoming meeting and send out the meeting address, get RSVPs, etc.
~ The hosts are in charge of choosing the book for their month. You can choose books ahead of time and plan a year out, but we have found that choosing after each meeting for the following meeting has worked best. You never know when a best-seller will be released, or when a movie is coming out, and you’ll want to read the book first. We ask the co-hosts to come to the meeting before their own with a book title chosen, so that members can start on it at their convenience.
~ Once we meet, we usually spend some time just socializing and drinking, then we sit for dinner/apps. Usually, after an hour or so, we all try to gather together to start talking about the book. Sometimes we wrap up in another hour, and sometimes we get off on many different topics and talk quite a bit longer. It’s best not to be too rigid with time, but to also be courteous to the hostess who may not want to stay up ’til 11 pm on a weeknight.
~ The best book club discussions are always about “deeper” books. Fun, light reads are great for your own reading pleasure, but sadly they don’t bring forth much discussion on a book club night. I asked some of the ladies in my book club which books they remembered as bringing about some of our best conversations. Here are some ideas to get you started:
The Red Tent
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
What She Left Behind
The Secret Life of Bees
Same Kind of Different As Me
Some of those were tough topics, but wow, did they resonate with us and really take us out of our usual “mom talk!”
–We also have a new monthly series on TMoM called the “Book Nook” which is written by a local author. (Just type “Book Nook” in our search box to find past blogs in this series). In addition, we have a category on our site called “Pop Culture, Books, and Movies.” You will find many recommendations (old and new) under this tab. Another great place to find good book recs is Oprah’s Book Club or Good Reads.
– It also helps if the hosts come prepared with discussion questions. These can easily be found online. We rarely get through all the questions in our book clubs, but they usually at least get the discussion going and lead to further conversations.
All in all, these nights are something I always look forward to. The women who started as acquaintances have become amazing friends who support each other outside of book club in times of need, and organize girls’ weekends and movie nights just for fun. I hope my ideas today might entice you to start a book club of your own!