Juneteenth: It’s Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It

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We fight, we protest, we resist, we educate, we explain and with that tremendous, continual effort… we are exhausted. Because the systems in place that we currently live within want us to be broken down, bone-weary, bruised, tired, and not functioning at our highest level. It wants us to stay a broken people. But the tide is turning.

Because this Friday, June 19th – for me, and for many other Black people – will be a time to lean into joy. Sharing our joy is an act of resistance against this system we are living in. This is our time to continue the legacy of resilience our ancestors laid before us, and remind the world that our Black Joy matters. 

Juneteenth: It's Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Can I be completely honest with you? (And slightly embarrassed to say this, but…) This will be my first year actually celebrating the holiday of Juneteenth! Me, a 33-year-old Black woman, who has known about Juneteenth since I was a kid. I mean, I guess I could count that one time I went to a Juneteenth parade when I was living in Texas at the age of 9… but other than that, June 19th has always been just another ordinary day for me.

Now, I could sit here and continue to beat myself up over not celebrating such an important holiday in my history. But I won’t. Because honestly, I am only partly to blame. The fact remains, America’s history has always been a history of two sides: The side they talk about in school, and the side you have to go out and discover for yourself. Oh, and then there is the shadowy side they briefly and quietly slide in, touching on quickly, mainly to say that it was mentioned. To me, Juneteenth was one of those holidays. But thankfully, not anymore.

So, what is Juneteenth? 

On Jan 1st, 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official. In this proclamation, Lincoln stated “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

One thing to mention about this proclamation, is that this did not apply to southern states. In fact, the abolishment of slavery was contingent on the Union Army winning the Civil War, which didn’t happen until April of 1865. 

So essentially, on June 19th, 1865, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform everyone that the war had ended and that the enslaved were to be freed.  

As you can imagine, this created a lot of excitement for these newly freed African Americans, and with this newfound freedom came a need to celebrate. 

Therefore, June 19th – which became known as Juneteenth – became a day to celebrate freedom, a day of remembrance, and a day of joy. 

Juneteenth: It's Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It | Twin Cities Mom Collective

[Image courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution.]

How is Juneteenth celebrated? 

In 1866, the first Juneteenth was celebrated in Texas, and since African Americans were not allowed to hold celebrations in public places they took their celebrations to the park as well as down to the river. Over the years, these celebrations continued to evolve to include activities like BBQs, parades, fishing, rodeos, baseball, and so forth; in addition to including a time to educate about our past, remembrance, and prayer services.

Another huge part of Juneteenth celebrations is food, with items such as strawberry soda, red velvet cake and watermelon symbolizing the crimson blood of the millions of enslaved Africans who suffered and died, but also ingenuity and resilience in bondage. 

Juneteenth is still not currently a federal holiday, but over the years – and especially in Texas, Black families and communities across the nation have kept this tradition and holiday alive. Using it as a way to honor and remember their ancestors. Our ancestors.

Juneteenth: It's Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It | Twin Cities Mom Collective

[Image courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution.]

Why I believe Juneteenth is important, especially in 2020

Like I mentioned before, this will be my 1st Juneteenth celebration as an adult. And more than ever before, I feel the need to connect with my Black community and with my family. With our country STILL experiencing delayed freedom and inequality in the Black community, with the non stop ending of their Black lives, the need for connection and unity is absolutely essential now more than ever. 

In the news, it seems as though daily we as Black people are witnessing a deeply rooted, systemic failure to protect us, to support us, and to show us the equality we deserve. 

Juneteenth: It's Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Ways to celebrate, support and learn about Juneteenth! 

Juneteenth: It's Importance to Black History & How We Celebrate It

Twin Cities Drive Thru Guide: Coffee & Easy Eats for the Busy Mom

Coffee and Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective

We’re going to be really honest and just say that this might be our favorite guide yet! If you’ve found yourself stuck, trapped in the car with napping kiddos, in need of coffee, this guide is for you. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck eating fast food for the third time this week because it seemed to be the only drive-thru option, this guide is for you. Or if the thought of getting your kids out of the car is too much, and so is the idea of going all day without your latte, then yes, this guide is most certainly for you.

We’ve rounded up more than a hundred coffee shops with drive-thrus from all around the metro, but also included a handful of great locations that you’ll want to swing through for a healthy dinner on the way to your kids’ activities of the evening. We’re passionate about making sure you have all the resources you need, even and especially the ones that make lots of tiny little moments easier throughout your day, so that you can use your energy to love on your littles, not hunt down a quick dinner.

Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective
Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective
Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective
Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective
Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective
Coffee Easy Eats | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Did you enjoy this guide? We post daily on Twin Cities happenings, events, how to connect with other parents in the greater Twin Cities area, and real, honest, sometimes funny, sometimes heartwarming stories about motherhood. Sign up to receive our weekly email here, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up to date on parenting in the Twin Cities!

Local Coffee Shops | Twin Cities Mom Collective

At-Home Self-Care While Distancing

At-Home Self-Care While Distancing | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Life has looked different for many months. Whether working from home, caring for children, supporting distance learning or some combination of the above, there is little time to be alone or take care of yourself. As we continue to largely stay apart, it’s important to make time for new forms of self-care.

My go-to was always the gym and I desperately miss it. I love that my gym is offering virtual workouts, but have trouble committing and being consistent with everything else that is going on. While I have equipment at home, it just isn’t the same. That is not an excuse, but I know that I push myself more in a group setting. Plus, my girls are always underfoot or in need, so there are constant interruptions, which makes each workout seem less effective. But this is life right now and I’m finding ways to adapt.

One way I’ve found to prioritize self-care in a time of social distancing and mostly staying home is a weekly spa night. And I have even encouraged my husband to join in. For us, it’s usually Saturday or Sunday.

It all started with Baby Foot. (Have you heard of it? Have you tried it?) I was inspired by a friend on Instagram, so ordered one for myself and one for my husband. One Saturday evening, we decided to give it a try. Essentially, you wear the product on your feet for an hour or so, wash up and put socks on. It takes several days to work its magic and you are supposed to wear socks as much as possible. And you wait. The outcome… your feet peel over several days removing dead skin and calluses, and you are left with feet that resemble those of a baby (hence the name… Baby Foot).

To be honest, I’m all about instant gratification. But this product required patience. For me, it took about five days for the peeling process to start. That being said, it was fascinating, a bit gross and effective. A fun treat when a traditional pedicure is off the table and sandal season is here. And while salons are now open, many might not feel comfortable venturing out and about for these services, so this is a fun alternative.

Following our foot treatment, we treated our faces to a balancing charcoal mask and it has suddenly become a weekly thing. I love that it gets us into bed a bit earlier and encourages other positive habits like reading to wind down. It’s the perfect way to relax after a long and stressful week. As I mentioned, we’ve continued to use this each weekend and have even noticed an improvement in our skin. It’s definitely a win-win.

Finding time for self-care is hard right now. Our family is always together and bedtime seems to get later by the day. I love that this weekly spa routine is something to look forward to and allows us to take care of ourselves in an otherwise crazy time. I also love that my husband was such a good sport and willing to join in. I think he looks forward to it as much as I do now.

What should we try next?

Summer Isn’t Canceled

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Summer Isn't Canceled | Twin Cities Mom Collective

“What are you doing this summer?” has always been a question among the parents in my sphere. This year the answers have less to do with family vacations, camps, sports, and childcare. This year the questions really come down to: “Are you going to continue schoolwork?”… “Is your camp/daycare/class open and if so, will you send your kid(s)?”… “Should I send my kid(s)?”… “Are you traveling?”… “What activities are you doing at home?”… 

The transition to summer is so awkward this year. As I write this in early June, on our last official day of school and distance learning, it feels as though it should be August 31st. We’ve been home for three months. That’s like an entire summer. Already. The kids are fighting more, crying more, and bored with their toys. We go from being perfectly fine to totally and completely sick of each other in 2.3 seconds flat. I’m more prone to either snapping or adopting an attitude of, “Sure. If you want to wear your swimsuit to bed or eat candy for lunch and do those things without my assistance? Cool. Go ahead.” Seriously, how is it not the end of summer?

My sense of time may be skewed, but the calendar doesn’t lie. We’ve got a long way to go.

It’s particularly long when we don’t have our normal summer things to look forward to. Our baseball league held out hope for months only to officially cancel this past week. The two-morning-a-week camp my children have attended for the past two years? Also canceled. We’re signed up for a zoo camp in August I can only assume will go the same way. We canceled our family vacation, a vacation my mom’s family has been taking for over 40 straight years. And let’s not forget The Great Minnesota Get-Together: canceled. Summer 2020 is really bringing an entirely new meaning to the term “cancel culture.”

Still. Regularly-scheduled plans or not, summer is here.

When I think back to summers growing up, my own memories are sprinkled with scenes from softball and dance camp and Summer Academy and family vacations and Twins games. But when I think back harder, more of my memories are made up of the regular, ordinary days of summer.

The bulk of my summer looked like playing with friends, eating ice cream cones, and biking for miles and miles. It smelled like the steaks and burgers my dad made on the grill and tasted like the freshest sweet corn from our favorite roadside stand. It looked like laying on our deck and reading stacks of books in the dappled afternoon light. It sounded like blasting music as we drove with the windows down. It felt like the stacks of paper and crayons I would drag out to our front porch and sit doodling with on the warm concrete for hours.

Summer 2020 will be filled with those things and more. The days are going to be full of sunshine and 90-degree temperatures. We’ll slather on the sunscreen and bug spray. Our bikes and scooters have already been on many family bike rides. The bonfire pit and stack of s’mores supplies sit ready and waiting. The inflatable pool, water table, sprinkler, and stash of water guns ensure our swimsuits will still get plenty of use. Our favorite ice cream spots are still open. The tattered blanket sits folded in the back of our minivan for impromptu picnics.

Losing a summer of special activities is a loss for sure. I feel it. I don’t want to minimize it. I’ve shed my tears over the things my own family is missing. But I don’t want to dwell there. I want to remember how much summer there still is to look forward to. Sometimes it’s going to look wonderful and relaxing and pretty close to normal. Other times, like on day number 473 of August during the summer-that-feels-like-it-will-never-end, we’re going to be losing our minds. 

Vacation or no, baseball or no, beaches or no, we still get an entire June, July, and August to fill with the things of summer. And so very many of those things are anything but canceled.

Let me present to you the understatement of the century: things are different this year. Different in so many ways. So here’s to ice cream. And to sprinklers. And to perfectly-roasted marshmallows. Here’s to the parts of summer we get to keep, to pass on, and to celebrate. Here’s to finding more to summer this year than we originally thought possible. Here’s to us raising our glasses of iced coffee, lemonade, sweet tea, and slushy cocktails to the things we don’t have to miss out on at all.

5 Ways You Can Be My Ally

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5 Ways You Can Be My Ally | Twin Cities Mom CollectiveIllustration by Jena Holliday | Spoonful of Faith

Becoming an ally to the black community starts with educating yourself about racism, and recognizing racism in its different forms. To start, it is realizing there is both active and passive forms of racism. An example of active racism includes using racial slurs, or saying things like “black people scare me.” Whereas an example of passive racism looks like a microinsult with phrases like “you sound white” or “I don’t see color…” But the pervasive issue of racism in our society goes on and on, and is not just about what we say but also what we do.

With that being said, here are five tips to help end this social injustice through educating ourselves, talking about it and addressing it head on.

1. Start with yourself

Look into your own values and beliefs, and ask yourself if they still align with your current self. Dissect them fully. Some of the values and beliefs we think we hold are actually derived from our family of origin. Perspectives handed down to us by our parents which may need reevaluating because values and beliefs transition as we get older. Look at yourself and see if you have any biases against people of color, acknowledge it and learn from that mistake. Because the more you know about yourself, the better you will be as an ally to the black community.

2. Educate yourself about racism

Do your own research and be open to learning about racism. Read books and articles on racism. We are living in a social media world where nearly everyone has a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Reevaluate the people in your social media communities. Follow people who align with your beliefs and values – people who add value to your life. Make an effort to follow black creators, authors and innovators. Seek our black writers and leaders who have written or talked about racism. Education should be a never ending, continuous journey. The more you research about racism the better you will understand it, and they more you will recognize when you have crossed the line into racism.

3. Talk to your friends & family about racism

I personally believe this component is one of the hardest aspects of this. It is incredibly hard to stand up for change when it is in opposition of the people you are the closest with in life. This is where tips and 1 and 2 really come into play. The more you know about yourself, your own heart and what you personally stand for in conjunction with your own racial education, research and knowledge, the better equipped you will be to stand against racism in your own family and community. Because standing up for what is right is never a bad thing, especially when people you love have crossed lines into racism.

4. Volunteer

I understand that not everyone can be on the front lines of protests, but there are other ways to show support and get involved. Some people volunteer, others donate money, others help out in their local communities. Others use their social media platforms to spread awareness and knowledge. And still others are able to be on the front lines and march for social changes. The bottom line is just to do something, and I guarantee you will learn a thing or two in the process as you interact with people from all walks of life.

5. Don’t be silent

When you encounter racism, say something. Call it out and stand up for the person being targeted. Choosing silence, being quiet and hoping things just go away does not help anyone. Use your privilege and raise your voice. It is time to stand up for people of color.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor…” Bishop Desmond Tutu


And that’s it, my friends. It’s about looking into our own hearts, educating ourselves and no longer staying silent. That being said, please let me know of any tips I have left out. What have you found to be helpful? Comment below and let me know if if these tips worked for you… let’s start a conversation and work together to turn the tide of racism. 

Stay safe out there and you use your voice for positivity. You can follow me on Instagram (@itssarahlyfe) where I post frequently on such issues and mom related content.

Teaching Your Kids About Racism

Teaching Your Kids About Racism | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I’m a big believer that the way your kids react and treat others is an extension of you. How I talk about current events, treat other people – every action I do – my kids can follow. It starts at home, and as such, this is where we all need to start. There are learned behaviors that kids will inherit and practice when they become adults, and I do believe that being racist is one of them.

I remember in one of my first communication classes in college, we had a section that talked about studies where babies recognized differences in skin color. At a young age, our brains are already working to find those who look like us and noticing who does not. I remember when I was younger, and with pictures and videos my parents have kept, I was surrounded by diversity. My parents had not just Asian friends, but friends of all origins and skin colors. I believe that has shaped me into who I am today. It taught me early on to not only see color, but recognize it is what makes us all beautiful.

However, just because I grew up that way, does not mean others were exposed to diversity. Let’s be real, I live in Minnesota where I am a minority. I recognized this early in school, especially when people would mistake me for being Chinese or Japanese (no one knew Vietnamese for some reason). I noticed when friends would “joke” and make squinty eyes to match my smaller eyes. I was taught to brush it off, move on, it’s just a stupid joke. As I grew up, I knew this was wrong, I knew it was racism, intentional or not. I knew this in college when prospective students’ families would remark how good my English was, making the assumption I was an International Student. I remembered surprised faces when I would say I was born in Minnesota. Again, I used to just brush it off when students from small towns would say I was the first Asian person they ever met and would ask questions like, “Did I know the football player who played for the Dallas Cowboys because he had the same last name as mine?” I would politely say “no” and explain that my last name was like Johnson in Minnesota, and that would be the end of it.

I am lucky though. I never had to feel scared or watch what I said or did because of my race. Not like my black friends. I would be there and watch how they would be denied getting into a bar or club because their outfit wasn’t right, even though myself or another non-black person with us was wearing the very same thing. We knew what was happening, we chose not to fight it because we knew we didn’t want police involved. We would walk away and find another spot to hang out at.

It’s something we’ve always lived with, part of life right? Everything changed when we had our own kids. My oldest noticed early when he started school that he looked different from his friends. We realized early on that we’d be open with him as he got older if he had questions, but I never thought of being proactive with it. For us though, it started early on when he asked us if he could become an American citizen. My son, who was born in Minnesota, asked us if he could become one and not realizing he was one.

I believe that we start the teaching at home on how to be anti-racist. Yes, we have all different skin colors, but we have taught our boys that different is what makes us unique. It is what makes you who you are and you need to embrace that in yourself and in your friends and family around you. We never told them “not to see color.” Instead, we taught them to notice it and embrace it. It’s been difficult these past few years especially, to have to continue to reinforce with our oldest. Most recently, having to explain that just because he is Asian, does not mean he will get COVID-19. Explaining that our black community is hurting and we need to support them and learn and listen to why this is happening.

I know it starts with me. I will be the one to teach anti-racism to my sons. I will be the one to make sure they understand how words and actions can be perceived. How they can hurt if you don’t understand the history of where it comes from. My oldest is curious and at the age where he is always wanting to learn more. To do this, my husband and I have committed to continue to look to the resources that we’ve been seeing to teach our boys what being racist means and how we don’t want to be that. Our actions will continue to speak louder than our words and we need to understand that anti-racism is practiced. It’s not easy and prejudices always surface, no matter how good you think you are. We need to continue to talk about it, learn about it, and practice it in our actions and our words.

For our family, movies and books have been a go-to for us. Here are some of the ones that I’ve tapped into, along with resources that have been compiled by the Twin Cities Mom Collective group…

Websites

Resources for Parents 

Podcasts

Movies & Television

Books

This list of resources is just the beginning. Please let us know what you have found useful in the comments below!

“Do you even live here?”

"Do you even live here?" | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Being a black woman in Minnesota is a strange and peculiar thing. At times I don’t feel qualified to share my experiences: I’m biracial, I have a white mother and husband, I’m educated, and I don’t live in poverty. As a result, I’ve been given countless opportunities because of these facts that others are simply not. I am often the first non-white person in spaces. In jobs, in moms groups, and while I am grateful, I wonder if the choice has to do with a feeling that I am somehow less threatening.

About a year ago we moved into our house in Stillwater. We love our community, and most of our neighbors are so welcoming. The majority of my fears about moving here subsided almost immediately, and I’m glad we’ve only had one bad experience, but it still haunts me, and honestly I am still mad as hell about it.

We had just moved in, and my husband Seth was already at work, and my young daughter Priscilla was sleeping upstairs. Like I always do, I had put our dog Astro on his leash outside while I finished up the breakfast dishes. I came out with a pile of garbage in my hands to throw out, right at the same moment a woman walking with her big dog came past my house. Our dogs barked at each other, as they have the habit of doing, and I heard her yell something. I could tell she was upset, her face twisted and angry. I said, “Oh, he’s big but he’s just saying ‘hi.’” I know our dog sometimes intimidates people, but I wanted to assure her he was okay.

Instead, she continued to yell, and I walked over to the edge of my yard to hear her better. “Your dog is mean, and not in a good way!” she said breathlessly. “Is this even your dog? Do you even live here?”

There it was. “Do you even live here?”

I stood there, braless in my pajamas still, sandals with the sun beating down on me in my own yard. “Excuse me?” She looked at me again, “Why did you ask me if I live here? Do I not look like I live here?” The for-sale sign had long been gone, only one car was in our driveway. I knew immediately what she was assuming, and she figured it out quickly, and then tried to back track. Her rude tone was dropped suddenly once she realized I was the owner, not a worker. I walked away from her, so angry it took me minutes to calm down before I could call Seth at work. I’m sure I was shrill, he asked me if I wanted him to come home.

A few hours later she came back. I had Priscilla with me. “I guess we didn’t get off to a good start” were her words, no apologies, and she thrust her business card into my hand. She tried to introduce herself. I could hardly hear what she was attempting to say.

“I don’t care that you’re upset about our dog. He’s big, and he has a big bark, you can always come talk to us about him. I’m offended that you think I don’t live here.” I was shaking, nervous, but I have a bit more confidence than I did in my twenties before I had the strength to confront situations like this head on. After all, I was standing in my yard.

Then it came, like clockwork, the tears. She stood in front of me crying while I held my baby. “Why are you crying?” I asked her. She fumbled over her words, unable to make much sense, and started to back up from me. It was a scene I wished Jordan Peele could watch personally, then pour me a strong drink afterward. At one point she mentioned diversity training, like the moment in Get Out when the father states he’d vote for Obama for a third time. Still, spinning herself as the victim despite her ridiculous behavior. “You can choose to see this as a learning experience or you can choose to make yourself the victim,” I said before I walked inside. How many times had I longed to say those words in previous, similar experiences, but had lacked the confidence and, honestly, the safety to do so? Nothing was on the line this time.

To this day she continues to take her daily walks past our house. If we’re outside, she looks down in shame. She’s never apologized, reached out, or attempted to make amends. She has never introduced herself to my husband. When I heard about the recent incident in Central Park it made me think of her. Two wings of the same butterfly, my neighbor and Amy Cooper.

Seeking Help, Finding Hope: A Resource Guide

Seeking Help, Finding Hope | Twin Cities Mom Collective

We want to connect moms who are seeking help to resources within our community that can provide hope. Below are several organizations that can help with issues related to abuse and depression.

“So please reach out. Connect with that mom sitting by herself at the park. Say hi to the bleary eyed dad staring blankly at the Starbucks menu. And when you ask how someone is doing, really ask how they’re doing. Then listen. Don’t be afraid to get your emotions dirty. And if it’s you that needs a connection, please don’t hide it. You have friends. You are loved. And you are not in this alone.”
(Excerpt from When Anxiety and Depression Come Home)

Resources

Crisis Lines by County: Each county has a crisis line. Enter your five-digit ZIP code OR the name of your county to find your county’s 24/7 crisis phone line. Click HERE.

Minnesota Warmline: The Minnesota Warmline provides a peer-to-peer approach to mental health recovery, support and wellness. Calls are answered by our team of professionally trained Certified Peer Specialists, who have first hand experience living with a mental health condition. The Warmline provides a safe, anonymous and confidential environment to connect with people who are here to listen…here to help. Open Monday-Saturday 5pm-10pm: 651.288.0400 or Toll Free 877.404.3190 or text “Support” to 85511.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL): Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.

Minnesota Mental Health has a wealth of resources available in areas such as legal, advocacy, reporting abuse and social services. Visit their website to find the list and locate the resource that best fits your needs.

Per the Minnesota Department of Health, “the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a tremendous amount of stress, fear and anxiety for many people. It’s important that Minnesotans have access to the mental health care resources they need to stay well during this challenging time. State agencies are working together to ensure these services are available, and they are also connecting people with private organizations that can provide support. This includes telemedicine resources (which replace clinic visits) and other well-being supports to help families and individuals cope.”

Please use this link here to access their recommended resources during this time.

Asian Women United of MN | 24 Hour Multilingual Hotline: 612-724-8823

  • Asian Women United of Minnesota (AWUM) is a safe place for all women and their children dealing with domestic violence, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Aurora Center @ University of MN | The Aurora Center, Suite 117 Appleby Hall, 128 Pleasant St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455 | 24-Hour Helpline: 612-626-9111

  • The Aurora Center provides a safe and confidential space for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and family members or friends affiliated with the University of Minnesota, TC or Augsburg College who are victims/survivors/concerned people of sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking.

Domestic Abuse Project | 1121 Jackson Street NE, Suite 105 | Minneapolis, MN 55414 | 612-874-7063

  •  Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) has served the Twin Cities community with innovative and effective programming to end the inter-generational cycle of domestic violence, provides holistic healing for every member of the family.

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center | 2300 15th Avenue South, Minneapolis 55404 | 612-728-2000

  • Family services, child advocacy, legal services, affordable housing, parenting skills, chemical dependency, mental health care, cultural resilience, historical trauma and other family and community issues.

Oasis of Love | 1200 37th Avenue N., Minneapolis, MN 55412 | 612-529-6055

  • Women and their children get the crisis assistance, advocacy, and support that addressed their needs to heal through the OASIS domestic violence programs. Men receive batterer intervention and anger accountability services.

Sexual Violence Center | 2021 East Hennepin Avenue, Suite 418, Minneapolis, MN 55413 | 24 Hour Crisis Line 612-871-5111

  • Their mission is to eradicate sexual violence and abuse by: challenging the systems and individuals that promote privilege, oppression and domination, educating those that will join them as advocates and catalysts for change, and supporting those who have been victimized, empowering them to not only survive but thrive, finding power and movement in our collective voices.

SEWA-AIFW (Asian Indian Family Wellness) | 3702 E Lake St Minneapolis, MN 55406 | 24×7 Crisis Line 952-912-9100

  • SEWA-AIFW devotes its energy to passionately advocating for the undeserved vulnerable population of South Asians in the Twin Cities and around.  Education and resources that are culturally tailored in the areas of Health, Education, Economics and housing.

Sojourner Project | 24 Hour Hotline: 952-933-7422

  • Provide program participants, adults, and children, with information and resources needed to work towards reclaiming their safety and stability. All Sojourner services are provided free of charge.

Tubman Center | 4432 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407 | Crisis Line 612-825-0000

  • Tubman helps women, men, youth and families who have experienced relationship violence, elder abuse, addiction, sexual exploitation or other forms of trauma. Throughout the Twin Cities, Tubman provides safe shelter, legal services, mental and chemical health counseling, elder abuse resources, youth programming and community education, including public information campaigns to provide community members the information and support they need to get help or give help.

Breaking Free | 770 University Ave W, St. Paul,MN 55104 | 651-645-6557

  • Every year, Breaking Free helps over 500 women escape systems of prostitution and sexual exploitation through advocacy, direct services, housing, and education.

Bridges to Safety | 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, Room 140, St. Paul MN 55102 | 651-266-9901

  •  Provides personal and legal advocacy, filing of Orders for Protection, civil legal services, police and prosecution consultation, child care while participants are receiving services, and referral to shelter, permanent and transitional housing, employment, supervised visitation, personal counseling, and other community partners.

Casa de Esperanza | PO Box 40115, St. Paul, MN 55104 | 24 Hour Bilingual Hotline: 651-772-1611

  • Casa de Esperanza provides emergency shelter for Latinas and other women and children experiencing domestic violence. They offer critical and innovative services and support in its Minnesota Twin Cities communities, ranging from family advocacy and shelter services to leadership development and community engagement opportunities for Latin youth, women and men.

Jewish Family Service of St. Paul | 1633 West 7th Street, St. Paul, MN 55102 | 651-698-0767

  • They serve: men, women, children, couples and families seeking counseling, seniors who wish to remain in their homes, people seeking to improve their employment situation, caregivers who seek information and support, individuals and families facing difficult transitions, people planning a hospital stay, parents struggling to raise their children, individuals who are isolated and need emotional and spiritual support, people facing economic emergencies, people needing information on community services, immigrants and refugees.

Women’s Advocates | 588 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55102 | Crisis line: 651-227-8284

  • Women’s Advocates is a safe place where victims/survivors of all backgrounds and cultures can escape domestic violence and begin to heal. We offer shelter, meals, clothing, transportation, personal needs items, counseling, support, advocacy, referrals, crisis phone, and other basic services to women and their children daily.

Women of Nations | PO Box 7125, Saint Paul, MN 55107 | Crisis Line: 651-251-1609

  •  Provides supportive services including crisis intervention, advocacy, and shelter for Native American and other battered women.

360 Communities | Lewis House Eagan: 651-452-7288 | Lewis House Hastings: 651-437-1291 |

  • Provides hope and support to people by engaging communities to prevent violence, ensure school success and promote long-term self-sufficiency.

Committee Against Domestic Abuse | Crisis Line 1-800-477-0466

  • Has emergency housing to female survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children, 24 hour advocacy and supportive services are provided in the shelter as well as through community-based victim service programs serving Blue Earth, Nicollet, Brown, Waseca, Watonwan, Faribault, Le Sueur and Sibley counties located in South-Central Minnesota. CADA also houses a supervised parenting time program where children are able to visit their non-custodial parents in a safe, neutral environment.

Cornerstone | 1000 E 80th St. Bloomington MN 55420 | Minnesota Day One Crisis Hotline 1-866-223-1111

  • Safety Planning, Emergency Shelter, Individual Advocacy, Legal Advocacy, Housing Resources, Clinical Therapy, Parenting Support, Support Groups.

Hope Center MN | 1003 7th St. NW, Faribault, MN 55021 | 24 hour SafeLine: 800-607-2330

  • The mission of HOPE Center is to create zero tolerance for sexual and domestic violence through Healing, Outreach, Prevention and Education.

Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women | 551 E. Park St. P.O. Box 166, Belle Plaine, MN 56011 | 24 Hour Crisis Line 952-873-4214

  • Provides the victims and family members of domestic violence with support, referrals, protection and advocacy. Serves Scott and Carver counties in Minnesota.

Missions Inc. Programs | 3409 East Medicine Lake Blvd., Plymouth, Minnesota 55441 | 763-559-1883, 24 Hour Hotline: 763-559-4945

  • A nonprofit social service organization working to make change possible for people whose lives have been disrupted by domestic violence, addiction and alcoholism, or illness and disability. They have six programs located in Plymouth and St. Paul, MN, providing safety, housing and support services to over 3,600 men, women and children each year.

SafeJourney | North Memorial Health Hospital and Maple Grove Hospital and their primary care clinics | 763-581-3940

  •  A hospital-based domestic abuse advocacy program that provides a compassionate and informed response team of both trained medical personnel and volunteer advocates. Together, they address the medical, safety, emotional, and economic needs of those whose lives are shaken by intimate partner violence. SafeJourney services are free and confidential, and are available to community members as well as for patients of Maple Grove Hospital.

Wayside House | 3705 Park Center Boulevard, St. Louis Park, MN 55416 | 651-242-5540

  • Provides gender specific chemical dependency and mental health treatment to women in a safe and nurturing environment.

Alexandra House | 10065 3rd St NE, Blaine, MN 55434 | 24 Hour Hotline: 763-780-2330

  • Domestic and sexual violence services to women, men, youth and families. Free 24-hour emergency shelter, legal advocacy, therapy, support groups, youth intervention and prevention services, abuse in later life resources, community education and professional training, and more.

Tubman Center East | 1725 Monastery Way, Maplewood, MN 55109 | 651-789-6770 | Crisis Line 612-825-0000

  • Tubman helps women, men, youth and families who have experienced relationship violence, elder abuse, addiction, sexual exploitation or other forms of trauma. Throughout the Twin Cities, Tubman provides safe shelter, legal services, mental and chemical health counseling, elder abuse resources, youth programming and community education, including public information campaigns to provide community members the information and support they need to get help or give help.

The Twin Cities in this Moment: Clean-ups, Support and Closures

For over a week now, our community has been using this resource to find ways to serve our neighbors. We hope it provides you and your family with opportunities to help.

We have continued to add to this list to keep it updated. We have linked to the best source of information, usually Facebook pages as they continue to be updated. Please be sure to double check that events are still happening before heading out, but also be aware that many of the most pressing needs are often noted quickly and from within the community. We hope you’ll use this resource in addition to being sure to get connected directly with groups that are helping those in need.

Health officials are also encouraging all people to remember and be cautious of COVID-19, wearing masks while in close proximity of others.

 

Food Drives & Community Support

11am – 12:30pm Daily this Week | Donations at Projects in Person in partnership with MAVEN Events
PIP Taking West Metro Donations | 906 Mainstreet Hopkins, Minnesota 55343
See link for more details
Mon 6/1: Baby Items
Tues 6/2: Hygiene Supplies
Wed 6/3: Laundry Needs
Thur 6/4: Canned Goods
Fri 6/5: Pasta Supplies

12-3pm Wed/Thur/Fri | Northside Donation Dropoff
Anwatin Middle School | 256 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

June 3-6 9:30am | Grocery Drop-off at Mt Calvary Church
The “Purpose” Church | 3859 Fremont Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55412

June 4-Jun 12th 9am-3pm | Grocery & Drop-Off and Fellowship MBC
Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church | 3355 N 4th St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55412
Volunteer Opportunities available – see event details for sign-ups

Minneapolis Food Shelves with Contact Information

St Paul Food Shelves with Contact Information


Clean-Up & Community Efforts

June 2nd 2-5pm | Secondhand Hounds Lake Street Clean-Up
Plan to meet at 2800 E Lake Street (US Bank), Minneapolis

Support the Cities Facebook Page: Continued updates on how to help

We Love Lakestreet Website: Rebuilding efforts for small businesses

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church: Offering direct support, including first aid, in the middle of the city and sharing regular updates on immediate needs.


Community Facebook Pages

You can find ways to help specific Mpls and St Paul communities by heading to these Facebook pages for updates

Little Earth Residents Association

Powderhorn Community Facebook Page

Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association

Longfellow Community Council

Audubon Neighborhood Association 


Closures: Follow links for details on specific areas

This is by no means a complete list of closures and we will do our best to update as much as we can. Please be aware that we are linking to the websites or announcements of the businesses or organizations listed as much as we can but cannot guarantee how often they are updating their information. So many area businesses are closed it will be hard to keep this list updated and we will keep our closure updates to closures that involve access to food or regular services. For business closures please check websites or Facebook pages for updated details.

USPS has suspended service temporarily

Target has closed multiple locations in the area
(Now updated to just a couple area locations)

Lunds and Byerly’s locations | Open at all locations aside from the Uptown location (closed May 29th) but temporarily changing hours of operation

St. Paul farmers Market: Closed the weekend of May 30-31

Mill City Farmer’s Market: Closed for May 30th

Multiple area Trader Joe’s stores closed the weekend of May 30-31. Call your local store to check if you plan to head there.


Curfews

  • Many, if not most, area curfews have been lifted – some cities have chosen to extend them. Check your local city and county websites if you are unsure if a curfew is in place in your area.

These are the current curfews in place. Most generally seem to be requiring the same thing: residents to be inside, no foot, automobile or bicycle travel of any kind. Homeless, those fleeing dangerous circumstances and those traveling to and from work appear to be exempt for all. The orders imply that anywhere aside from home is prohibited.


We welcome additional information on clean up, community support and closures. You can email [email protected] with details. 


(We will keep all old events and support efforts here – you may be able to link to them to find updates of new events happening in the area.)
May 29th 10am-2pm | Hamline-Midway Clean up

Gordon Parks High School 1212 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

May 29th 10am-1pm | Justice Clean Up
Minnehaha Mall, 2500 Lake St E, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

May 29th 10-1pm | Union Park Helping Hands Clean-up

May 29th 3-7pm | Clean up Our Beautiful City
Lake Street, Minneapolis

May 30th 9:30-1pm | Lake Street Clean Up and Grocery Distribution
1001 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

May 30th 11am-12pm | Grocery Delivery at Cedar & Lake: VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
3028 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407

May 30th 11a-2pm | Board up Lake Street: Calling Handy People
10 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

May 30th 11am-1pm | St. Paul Clean UP
Meet in the TJ Maxx parking lot: Bring your own mask and if able, bring trash bags and brooms
1410 University Ave W. St Paul, MN

May 30th 11am-1pm | South Minneapolis Clean Up
South High School parking lot: Bring your own mask and if able, bring trash bags and brooms
3131 S 19th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

May 30th 11:30am-12:30pm | Master Collision – Boarding up Windows
224 W Lake St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408

May 30th 11:30am-12:30pm | Clean-up at Popeyes in Westlake
310 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

May 30th 11am-Noon | North Minneapolis Food Drive
Sanctuary Covenant Church: 710 W Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis, MN
Donations being accepted: Diapers, baby formula, feminine products and non-perishable foods

May 30th 12-3pm | Supply Drop for items to be taken into Minneapolis
Bolz Gym, 780 S Plaza Dr, Mendota Heights, Minnesota 55120
Click link for list of supplies

May 29th 3-6pm | Food Drive for Minnehaha Commons Residents
3001 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

May 29th 2:30-7:45pm | Food Relief for South Minneapolis Residents
2916 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Hope Breakfast Bar: Free breakfast for anyone hungry today (May 29th)

May 30th 12:30-6pm | Modist Brewing Supply Gathering
505 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Biggest needs: gauze, pain meds, gloves, masks, water, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.

May 30th 12-4pm | Clean up Our Community
Minneapolis

May 30th 12-4pm | Clean up Our Beautiful City
Phelps Field | 3900 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407

May 30th 1pm | Debris Clean-Up
2401 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

May 30th 2-5:30pm | Lake & Minnehaha Clean Up
Minneapolis

May 30th 2:30-5:30pm | Phillips Clean-up

May 30th 2:30-May 31st 6pm | Working to Board up Local Businesses
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church | 2730 E 31st St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

May 30th 1-7:30pm | Donation Drop-off for The Link and Circle of Discipline
The Link | 1210 Glenwood Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405

May 31st 10:30am-12:30pm | Grocery Distribution Event
Incarnation / Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
3817 Pleasant Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55409

May 31st 12:30-4pm | Pop Up Grocery Distribution
Midtown Global Market | 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407

May 31st 12-4pm | Food and Supplies for Sanford and Minneapolis Families
Sanford Middle School parking lot, 3524 42nd Ave. S, Minneapolis, Enter parking lot from 41st Avenue, Minneapolis

May 31st 12-3pm | Clean Streets for George Floyd
Click link for meet up details.

May 31st 12-3pm | Community Clean-up in South Minneapolis
1015 Snelling Avenue S, St. Paul, MN

May 31st 12:45 – 6pm | Home Delivery of Essentials
Online event – follow link for details

May 31 4-5pm | Van Unload from Donations at Jericho Road
Jericho Road Ministries | 1628 E 33rd St, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407

June 1st 9:30am-12:30pm | Food Drive for Families in Need
1010 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408-2860

June 1st 10am-2pm | Hiawatha Food and Supplies Distribution
Hiawatha Collegiate High School | 3500 E. 28th Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

June 1st 11:30am | The Link Donation Drop-off in Apple Valley
Grace Lutheran Church | 7800 W County Road 42, Apple Valley, Minnesota 55124

June 1st 8am-2pm AND June 2nd 8am-2pm | Minneapolis Food and Supply Drive
Alchemy 365 (Edina) | 6729 York Ave S, Edina, Minnesota 55435

June 1st 10am-8pm | Donation Drive for Minneapolis
The Lakes Running Company | 218 Water St, Excelsior, Minnesota 55331

June 1st 9am-6pm | Donation Drive at Holy Trinity Lutheran
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church | 2730 E 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Supplies needed are listed – click link for updated needs throughout the day

June 1st 9am-3pm | Urban Roots Food Donation (9-3) and Pickup (12-4)
463 Maria Avenue, St Paul, MN 55106

June 1st 12:45-2:15pm | St Paul Food Drop-off
New Hope Church | 711 Bradley St, St Paul, MN 55130-4548, United States

June 1st 4-7pm | Supply Drive for Riot Victims
Thrivent Financial | 14670 Robert Trail S., Rosemount, Minnesota 55068

June 1st 3pm | OSFNA Clean Up
2500 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406-1909, United States

June 2nd 10-11am | Unload Clothing: Downtown Minneapolis
Bethlehem Baptist Church | 720 13th Ave S, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415

June 2nd 1-5pm | Grocery Pop-Up
Nu Way Missionary Baptist Church | 1530 N Russell Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411

June 3rd 11am-12:30pm | Diaper, Formula, & Grocery Pop-Up Drop-Off
Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist | 1800 Dupont Ave N, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411

A Safe Way to Send Your Kids to Summer Camp

Our partners at YWCA Minneapolis are offering summer camp options at four of their locations. Read on to learn more about their programs and specific measures they are taking to provide your child with both a safe and fun summer.

A Safe Way to Send Your Kids to Summer Camp | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Let’s face it, we’ve been doing a lot from home these days—working, schooling, virtual play dates and more. We all could use a little break.

Starting June 8, YWCA Minneapolis is offering safe and responsible summer camp options at four of our locations. Our summer camps are designed for many ages, skill sets and interests, and offer a safe, respectful, fun and diverse learning experience for your kids.

We are taking every measure to keep us all safe, including daily temperature checks, symptom screening, reduced classroom sizes and modified activities. We also are taking every measure to ensure kids have a fun summer with programs designed to provide the right mix of fun and safety, including:

• Games

• STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) theme-based activities

• Service and cultural activities

• Arts and crafts

• Structured learning and reading time, enrichment activities and schoolwork support as needed

• Outdoor games and activities on our playgrounds

• Breakfast and lunch included

• Small groups limited in size to provide safety

Learning Through Activity

A Safe Way to Send Your Kids to Summer Camp | Twin Cities Mom Collective

A day at YWCA Minneapolis summer camp includes a wide range of engaging activities. We really love to get our campers outdoors, including spending time gardening out on our playgrounds. Gardening is just one activity example that provides a multi-faceted approach to learning—using their hands to develop fine motor skills while planting, outdoor learning, learning how food starts from seeds, then sprouts, and becomes something we eat. Through gardening, campers learn about nutrition and how it supports a healthy body, and in turn, they learn how to appreciate and love their bodies.

Summer Camp Dates & Times

A Safe Way to Send Your Kids to Summer Camp | Twin Cities Mom Collective

YWCA Downtown | June 8 – Aug. 28 | 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

YWCA Midtown | June 8 – Sept. 2 | 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

YWCA Children’s Center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital | June 8 – Sept. 2 | 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

YWCA Children’s Center at Ecolab | June 8 – Sept. 2 | 6:30 am – 6:00 pm

We look forward to getting your kids out of the house and providing them with a safe, nurturing environment where they can socialize, make new friends, spend time outdoors and learn through play.

Join us for an exciting summer!

How Can I Be a Fair Mom?

How Can I Be a Fair Mom? | Twin Cities Mom Collective

To the moms of multiples, big hugs from me! I know you are struggling to let your kids know that “the color of the spoon doesn’t matter” every time you serve a meal.

You have lost count of how you find yourself saying, “Hey, be nice to your sister/brother.”

While struggling to fight for your own space, you are required to get them away from each other’s space…

Well! For the first part of this quarantine, my boys (who are a 5-year-old and an almost 2-year-old) were the sweetest brothers. I sure was grateful that they were able to spend more time together, as the 5-year-old would soon be off to school on a full-time basis. But as the lockdown continued, the sweetness kept vanishing into thin air.

Now all I see and hear is me [allegedly] “not being fair.”

The last week was extremely hard on every one of us. I was so done being a mediator. I was pushed to a point where I found myself just watching them as they fought and, eventually, cried out of frustration. And suddenly, I realized I really had no idea what fair meant anymore.

One day recently before bedtime as the boys were bathed by their dad, I was waiting quietly for them in their room with their pajamas. Jivin, the 5-year-old, was the first to come in. I volunteered to help him get dressed which made him beam at me with a huge smile.

“Amma,” he looked down at me, “I’m so happy that you are dressing me after a long time.”

Confused, I replied, “I dress you up a lot of the times, Jivin.”

“NO Amma, every day after the bath, Nevin gets out first and you dress him, while I dress up myself,” he adamantly responded.

Oh, wow! That comment hit me a bit and I realized he notices really small stuff. I smiled and hugged him, letting a small amount of guilt creep inside me.

Jivin then continued, “Amma, dress me up fast! If Nevin comes in now, he will not let you dress me.”

I was speechless and the guilt was everywhere. That moment I realized, this was his way of saying, “You’re not being fair.”

When did I stop being fair? I have always thought I related to Jivin as we both are firstborn, highly sensitive kids. I have tried to always make sure he never feels left out and alone, especially after the new addition in our family a few years ago.

That evening after bath time, I found myself wondering where could I have gone wrong?

I was looking for reasons to blame on the lockdown… the terrible twos of our younger one… anything…

But the reality is that sometimes we moms, somewhere down the road, forget our firstborns are still kids. They have been the “only kid” for a long time and sharing their parents with the new baby will be hard on kids at any age. Suddenly there is this another kid who has to share their parents right from the start. Sometimes, they might be totally fine for the first year or two, but then they start to understand the permanency of the change in their family and the problems can start.

Nevin, my 21-month-old who was mostly independent right from the start, has started to make a clingy bond with me. Suddenly not letting his older brother anywhere near me was the start of everything.

For a long time, every time I changed Nevin’s diaper, he would be quick enough to take the dirty one to the trash on his own. That gradually changed. The other day when I asked him to trash his old diaper, he denied being able to do it. He wanted me to do it. But when I turned to his brother seeking his help, Nevin came rushing to help me. What was that? He did not want to help me a second ago. All of a sudden he changed his mind simply to keep his brother from getting a turn to help me. Yet another way of one of my children saying, “It’s not fair!”

I initially thought, Wow! That is a smart way to get things done!… But then I realized this only kindles the rivalry more between my sons. The struggle to give them their own space while keeping our family unity in place is so hard.

The thought has been spinning around in my mind: What if siblings automatically rate their mothers on fairness? Keeping tabs and tallies?

Honesty, I believe most moms would fail as it is impossible to make family life perfectly fair and even, especially considering the varying needs of kids. And also, considering a well adjusted 31-year-old grown-up woman (me) still thinks her parents favor her sibling in most cases, I suppose this is simply an age old aspect to motherhood. That doesn’t mean they love her any less.

So for now, not being a fair enough mom is good enough for me as long as they are both equally loved and valued. No problems there!

#icantbreathe

People are hurting.
We are hurting.
Our friends are hurting.
Someone is gone in a way that’s so wrong we can’t understand and we are all broken.
Because it’s not that it happened, it’s that it happened again.
Minneapolis, please hear your people.
Please see their pain and tell them it matters.
We need our leaders to say this matters NOW, not later.

For those that are hurting deeply:
We are with you and for you.
We are broken alongside you.

Our city is heartbroken and hurting, but even more, we are only the latest location of pain for racial injustice. This is not new to many, and it makes the pain greater.
When our friends are hurting the only right thing to do is to be present, listen and to care. Step into it with them.

What they might need is for you to stand with them.
Out loud.
We stand with you.

Especially if you are white, want to help but don’t know where to start, click the picture below to link to a resource list that will give you a place to begin.


#georgefloyd #icantbreathe

Double Dating our Way to Lifelong Friendships

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Double Dating our Way to Lifelong Friendships | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Seattle, New York City, Chicago and even our own Minneapolis are a few of the places my husband and I have stayed for a few days with other couples over the years. We have spent weekends with close friends at cabins and vacation homes. Sometimes a boutique hotel. These couples are the kinds of friends we hope we grow old with and – if we’re really honest –  we hope some of our kids marry theirs. We have a shared history that shows up in random moments, reminding us of an adventure we have had together and erupting in laughter over the memories. And it all started with double dates. 

How are parents of small children able to pull that off? Weekends away… without kids? Full nights of sleep? Meals that are still hot when you eat them? What are they… magicians? Or wealthy?

Not at all. We simply have learned how important and rewarding it is to prioritize time together as a couple with other couples. Marriage experts always say that married couples should keep dating each other, and we agree. Intentional time together is so important, especially after having kids. Whether it is the traditional dinner-and-a-movie date or something as simple as a walk together, it is vital to find ways to reconnect with each other. However, we have found so many benefits to double dating and yet there aren’t many people talking about that. 

Double dates have brought back something important for our marriage. There is a side of us that can get lost in the daily doldrums of life: the fun side. When all we see of each other is the beginning and end of a work day, the parenting, the taking-out-the-trash and other adulting things, we can forget what we were like when we first fell in love. Like most couples, there was an element of fun that included other people at the beginning of our love story. Whether it was a group of friends going to a concert, out to eat, or just hanging out, there is a part of him and a part of me in those settings that played into the inevitable falling in love. When we go out on a double date with friends, I’m reminded of that attractive smile he has and of his compassion for others as he listens to their stories. I remember why I so admire the way he handles conversation and can so seamlessly get to the heart of people, making them feel heard and known. 

By ourselves, we can tend to be more reserved and quiet, even boring sometimes. We talk a lot about anything and everything, but when the words run out or when we are too tired, there is a good chance we might spend the evening watching movie trailers and in the end realize that it’s too late and we would rather go to sleep. And that’s fine. We are comfortable with who we are, even in the boring times. But I can see where we could easily just stay in those ruts until we grow old together. Quite frankly, we both want more to our relationship than that. When we are with another couple or a group of good friends, there is a livelier social side of us that comes out and it forces us out of our usual routines. It adds a richness to our experiences together, which in turn, fuels up our relationship. 

Shared experiences tend to do that. They add layers of complexity and depth. We all know hard things do that. When we walk through a difficult time with someone else, that shared experience adds depth. But the same is true for positive experiences. Difficult experiences are hardly something you choose, but positive experiences are mostly always a choice. Both create memories that tie people together. Like that time we almost froze, sitting on the slopes of the Gorge Amphitheatre surrounded by crazies, while waiting for our friend’s favorite band to play. Or that time we walked the equivalent distance of a marathon through the streets of New York. And that night after a concert downtown Minneapolis, when they wouldn’t let us into a bar because our friends had a baby in the Ergo. Come on, we just wanted some fries! Those are just a few of the memories we now share with friends which have knit us together in a deeper, and definitely more fun way.

We all know that “mawwiage is what bwings us togetha today” but life has a way to pull us in different directions. Kids, of course, rightfully demand a lot of our attention and resources. Then there are jobs, commitments, house projects and other relationships. Spending time together can quickly become something we’re too tired to accomplish or simply don’t have time left for. In fact, we can easily get to the point where we each have our own circles of friends and even our social life becomes yet another thing pulling us apart. Double dates give us both the opportunity to make friends together and actually, the combination of four people’s personalities can lend a much more well-rounded relational component to our collective friendship than we might not have achieved with just the wives or the husbands alone. 

We have made some of our best friends by double dating, but it hasn’t always been easy. It is necessary to remember that we live in a highly transient culture. Most of us don’t live in the same neighborhood we grew up in, or in my case not even the same country! As we move through the different stages of life from singleness to marriage, we can find ourselves in the throes of raising kids feeling quite lonely. I am convinced this can be one of the hardest seasons to make friends in. Sure, we have camaraderie in the fact that as parents, we are all sleep deprived and coffee addicted. But getting into the deeper conversations of who we are beyond the surface takes a while and is extremely difficult when you’re also trying to parent on the side. By double dating with other couples, my husband and I have been able to enjoy focused conversations and our friendships have developed faster than they would have through family get togethers alone. Besides, there is something to be said for finding friends with similar parenting habits–it helps make play dates much more cohesive and pleasant. 

Double dates and weekends away have become something my husband and I intentionally schedule and budget for. We know that an evening of uninterrupted adult conversation and great food helps us come back to our kids refreshed. And a weekend away always helps renew our perspectives on the goals and values we have for ourselves and for our family. We are a team and we operate so much better when we take the time to nourish our souls, our marriage, our friendships, and our appetites! 

So what is your dream weekend getaway? And when are you going to finally try that new restaurant in town you’ve been talking about? Make plans and bring some friends along!

Be The Light, Not The Darkness

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Be The Light, Not The Darkness | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Dear Mamas,

For the past 9 years I have had the privilege of being apart of a moms group; specifically, MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers). I had no idea what I was signing up for so long ago. Life was busy with two kids: a two year old and a newborn with health issues. For the first 5 months of our son’s life we were constantly at the doctor’s office and specialty clinics on and off.

Our son was born with a condition called Tethered Cord Syndrome. Something we had never heard about. So many questions and scary thoughts plagued my mind all the time. Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? What will happen to our boy? When your mind and body are so completely exhausted from the newborn stage, let alone the newborn stage with health issues, it’s just hard to think straight.

My mother-in-law saw my struggles and immediately knew I needed some sort of support and outlet. Being a seasoned mother herself, she recognized my need for other moms. One day, she recommended a MOPS group meeting at the church I was attending at the time. (I think she figured the convenience factor would play heavily into my decision to give it a try…) At the time, I didn’t know what the group was or what they did or if it would be a fit for me. To be honest, I didn’t even look up what it was ahead of time. I was desperate for some friends that were in the thick of parenting just like me.

After registering over the summer, I patiently waited for September to arrive when the group reconvened. Suddenly, it was finally the day! I remember I got up extra early so I could get myself and the kids ready to go on time. I way over-packed the diaper bag and got those little ones buckled up in the car. We made our way to this so called MOPS group hoping to find community.

On the way there, I called my mom. I was having second thoughts about it. In fact, I was actually afraid… I mean, what was I doing?! I didn’t know a single soul. But I remember my mom so kindly said, ” Janna you are going to be just fine, people always love you and your smile.” I thanked her for the pep talk, and pulled into the parking lot. I sat for a moment, to take a deep breath.

Walking up to the door, I was greeted by two amazing women. The smiles on their faces felt welcoming, and like a breath of fresh air. They directed me inside and told me where to go. I dropped off my little ones in childcare, hesitating a moment before another staff member reassured me they would be just fine and to go enjoy some time to myself. Those words were like gold at that moment. I walked back towards the room for the moms and discovered it was thoughtfully and beautifully decorated… just for us. There was food and coffee, and suddenly my heart began to sing. I found my assigned table and sat down. Everyone was so friendly and kind. I remember loving every minute of it.

By taking a scary leap and putting myself out there, I suddenly had other moms to talk with about all the good moments, and the bad. Women who checked in on our family and truly carried for all of us. That community of mothers became my saving grace.

To this day I still attend MOPS. In fact, I eventually transitioned into a leadership position. It has carried me through motherhood. I allowed myself to say “yes” to something that was out of my comfort zone. In return, I gained so much – all because I took that step into the unknown. It delivered all it promised to do. It gave me a community, support, laughter and a place to be me.

Nine years ago, I was an overwhelmed and lonely mom, struggling to fully step into my new role of motherhood. Thankfully, I was able to reach out and find a community of women who came alongside me through the many emotions and struggles and obstacles of life over the years. I am forever thankful for these experiences, and humbled by all the love and support I’ve been offered.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize we as women and mothers are amazing! The words we speak into each other are so sacred and precious. So, with this in mind, be the light for others, not the darkness. See the woman next to you as a friend, and invite her into your circle. Include the ones you don’t know on a walk or to play with your kids. You never know what may come out of it. Because we all need community, we sometimes just don’t know the first step to take in order to get it.

“You Must Go On Adventures To Find Out Where You Truly Belong.”
-Sue Fitzmaurice

Peace and Love,

Mama Janna

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