Welcome to Chicago! Chicago is hands down the best place to live in the U.S. Well, except if you’ve just had your first baby and the thermometer reads below zero. When we first moved to Chicago from California, I needed to find ways to meet new moms and make friends in a frozen tundra. This would be an interesting challenge.
It took me a while to find my groove, because I didn’t have any friends or family in Chicago. My friends outside Chicago didn’t have kids yet, so I didn’t know how to go about meeting other moms. If you’ve lived in another city with kids, some of this may be familiar territory. If you’re new to parenting and to the area, you’ll probably need all the help you can get.
I have no affiliation to any of the classes or organizations in this post.
How to Meet Other Moms in Chicago with Young Kids
Join a Playgroup through the Neighborhood Parents Network (NPN)
The Neighborhood Parents Network changed parenting for me. A couple months after Victoria was born, NPN organized a get together for first time moms at Bubbles Academy. We met three times with the help of a volunteer group leader. We then shared our contact information so we could meet again. This group of women became my core group of mom friends and we met every Tuesday for years. Our kids grew up together. Our playgroup started with six babies sprawled on their mats while we commiserated about tough mom moments. The group eventually grew to fifteen kids running around while we planned our next moms’ night out (without the kids). An annual NPN family membership costs $55. This includes access to the New Moms’ Groups as well as access to discussion forums and childcare classifieds.
Other Playgroup Options
Maybe NPN doesn’t work for you or you’d like to do several playgroups at once. Religious organizations and hospitals can be a great resource for local playgroups. Reach out to the closest hospital even if you did not deliver your baby there. You may not need to be a registered member of the religious organization to become part of the new mom’s group. However, most of the moms will likely be of the same faith.
Get in Shape, Girl
Working out and meeting mom friends is a win on so many levels. As soon as spring rolled around, I signed up for baby boot camp. I buckled Victoria into her stroller and headed to Lincoln Park Zoo to get whipped into shape with some other moms. We lunged our way through the zoo and did stadiums by the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial. Between gasps for breath, I introduced myself to Karen. As luck would have it, she lived right across the street from me and we became the best of friends. You might find your Karen at a fitness class and you’ll definitely get a good work-out. If Baby Boot Camp isn’t your style, look into other fitness classes like Baby and Me Yoga. Red Tricycle featured some mother-child yoga options here. The Baby Boot Camp that I did with Victoria is no longer around. However, Stroller Strides offers classes throughout Chicagoland. One class per week costs $49/month. For unlimited monthly classes, it’s currently $79/month.
Sign Up for Mom-Tot Classes
If there’s one thing about Chicago that never ceases to amaze me, it’s the number of class offerings for kids. For new moms, places like Little Gym, Gymboree, or Bubbles Academy provide many class options. You should also check out the Chicago Park District (more info below). When my kids were a little older, we started going to Language Stars. They loved spending an hour a week talking in Spanish, Italian or French. The smaller class size also gave me the chance to meet other moms. Look for classes that you would love taking on your own – art, cooking, sports – and then do them with your child. If languages are your thing, the parent-tot classes at Language Stars are $175/month.
How to Meet Other Moms with Older Kids
Reach Out to Your School
The families at your new school will most likely be the start of your social network. If you’re as impatient as I am, you won’t want to wait until school starts to make some friends. Peak moving time starts on Memorial Day. School may not start until September. That can feel like a really long time when your kid has no one else to play with but you. Ask your school to set you up with a host family. The school might also give you tips on summer camps or sports teams.
Proceed Immediately to Your Local Park District
The first place you should visit either online or in person is the Chicago Park District (or your suburban equivalent). The park district offers classes in sports, theater, art, and so much more. It’s a one-stop shop for classes for kids of all ages. Your child will meet kids from all over the neighborhood through the park district. You’ll start to run into familiar faces at pick up or while you’re standing in the lobby waiting for your kid’s class to be done. Reach out to the other moms and introduce yourself.
Sign Up for Sports
Whether or not you’re a sports family, signing up for a summer team is a great way for your family to meet people. If there’s a language barrier, this scenario is even more ideal. Your child will be able to communicate on the field by kicking the ball around and she’ll only need to know a few sports terms. When you’re on the sidelines, you can start chatting up the other parents.
Advice For All Moms: Get Out There
No matter how old your child is, the best way to meet people in Chicago is to get out there. If it’s summertime, you have no excuses. You should be outside as much as humanly possible. Summer is when Chicago comes alive, when everyone comes out of hibernation to run along the lake or to cheer on their baseball team. People will go into hiding once winter hits in October. Seriously. Meet them now because you won’t see them again until next June.
You’ll be down with the lingo soon, but the greater Chicago area is known as Chicagoland. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think it’s because of the city’s summer activities and festivals. It’s like Disneyland, but cheaper. To find out what’s going on around town, check out Chicago Parent, Red Tricycle, or Metromix. My pinterest page also has links to adult classes or events in Chicagoland. Go to your local library and check out the free classes it offers year-round. As an added plus, Chicago residents get free passes to many museums. All you need to do is to borrow your pass from the library.
Chicago is one of the friendliest cities I’ve lived in and I’ve lived in my fair share. If you have any tips for good places to meet new moms in Chicago, please share with the rest of us!