The Facebook group is 120 members strong and counting.
“I cry or want to cry almost daily.” “Most days I’m overwhelmed.” “Attempting to balance work and mom life is a daily process.” These are just a few of the replies received by The Salvation Army’s Caring Moms Collective Facebook group to a simple question asked when moms request to join: “What is the hardest part of being a mom right now?”
These responses echo a very true reality for many moms at the moment: The pandemic is taking a toll on mothers. A study by Indiana University reports that “mothers who have greatly increased the time they spend caring for their children also disproportionately report increased stress, anxiety and frustrations with their children” during the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, nearly 1 million moms have left their jobs during the pandemic, according to The New York Times.
In fact, the Caring Moms Collective was born from New Frontier Publications Editor-in-Chief Christin Thieme’s own struggles as a working mom during the peak of the pandemic in 2020.
“Last summer, at the height of lockdowns, I was sitting in my mom’s house and feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, guilty, guilty for feeling guilty, and more. I had a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old. My husband and I were working from home full-time without daycare and he was finishing his last semester of a three-year MBA program. So we moved in with my parents for desperately needed help,” Thieme said. “And even with that extra help, the ‘mental load’ of being a mom to a toddler and an infant while trying to work and simply live in that reality was so, so heavy. I was busy every second of every day, barely sleeping and wondering how I was going to keep it up. And I knew I wasn’t alone.”
So, she created Caring Moms Collective—as an extension of Caring Magazine—for moms to come together and support one another during this time and beyond.
“I wanted a space for the moms in the Caring community to simply say, ‘I’m here too. I understand. I get it. I’m right there with you,’” Thieme said. “The Caring Moms Collective on Facebook is a place of low pressure and high encouragement. It’s still in its early days, but I hope it continues to grow into a safe spot to ask for a pep talk, to share an idea for your favorite easy weeknight dinner anyone can pull together, to gather for learning and fun, and to simply give another mom a digital high five.”
The Facebook group launched alongside a six-week book club, based on “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts,” by Jennie Allen. It was co-hosted by Captain Christina Arnold, Salvation Army Olympia (Washington) Corps Officer and Territorial Director of Special Needs Ministries, and Kelly Rodriguez, Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist and Bellflower (California) Corps soldier. Weekly sessions were held over Zoom to discuss the book, and conversations over the source material also took place within the group itself.
“It was my first book club that I actively was part of and, for me, I found that incredibly rewarding to be able to connect with tons of moms across many states who were in the same spot I was in…trying to juggle work and life and family in the midst of a pandemic,” Arnold said. “It really helped diminish some of the isolation that me and the other women were feeling.”
Rodriguez found the book club to be a source of inspiration and solidarity.
“Leading the group was really empowering in the sense that women were just being so open and vulnerable. It was really enriching to hear the stories that they had to share even if the moms were in different places and different stages of life,” Rodriguez said. “For me personally, it was really motivating.”
These conversations around motherhood trickled into discussions on the group Facebook page—even from moms who weren’t part of the book club.
Major Noelle Nelson, Golden State Division Women’s Ministries Secretary, and Captain Megan Trimmer, Field Training Officer at the College for Officer Training, are among those who regularly engage in posts and discussions within the group.
“At any given time I can pop in there and I feel like I’m back in the book club, where no topic is too sacred or off-limits,” Nelson said. “If it’s something one of us is struggling with or wants to share, you’re free to do that. And you know you’re going to be supported and not judged, and surrounded by a fellowship; a sisterhood that is really special—a true friendship.”
Trimmer said the group is a “constant reminder that I’m not in this alone.”
“Groups like this help us to connect with one another in a whole new way. I may never have connected with the women on Facebook through this group that I have been connected to now,” she said. “I may never have known them and known their stories and laughed alongside them and learned and grown from them. But I can. Because of a group like this, I can be connected to other women.”
That sense of support and unity is something Thieme hopes the group will continue to embody post-pandemic.
“Even if and when things return to ‘normal,’ I think the group will still hold value for moms, especially those of young kids who can’t easily leave home to go to an in-person Bible study at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday,” Thieme said. “This community is for any mom—no matter who you are, where you live, what your schedule is, how old your kids are. Join in where you can and know you have a group who has your back literally in your back pocket anytime you need us.”
And there will be plenty of upcoming opportunities for moms to engage and participate in the group. The Caring Moms Collective is just starting an eight-week part self, part group study of Philippians with several virtual meetups.
Also, starting this month, the group is introducing virtual gatherings for moms to get together, have fun and learn something new. Upcoming events include: How To Make the Perfect (i.e. Easy) Easter Bundt Cake with Major Pamilla Brackenbury, Alaska Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries, on March 25. Then on April 28, How to Style Thrift Store Finds (And What To Look For While You’re There) with Shelby Goodman and a devotional by Captain Jennifer Swain, San Diego Adult Rehabilitation Center Administrator for Program.
Ultimately, Thieme wants moms in the Caring Moms Collective to find friendship and support with fellow mothers.
“I hope moms continually come to the group to give and receive support. I hope we can learn and grow and adapt and renew ourselves and offer love to each other along the way,” Thieme said. “I hope it’s a place for meaningful relationships for a group who—I can attest—needs it.”
Join the Caring Moms Collective here.
- Are you a mom in need of a boost? Join the Caring Moms Collective to get support from moms who are right there with you.
- Read “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts,” (WaterBrook, 2020) by Jennie Allen.
- It’s because of people like you that The Salvation Army can serve more than 23 million Americans in need each year. (That’s almost one person every second, every day.) Your gift helps The Salvation Army fight for good all year in your community. It’s an effort to build well-being for all of us, so together we rise. And that good starts with you. Give to spread hope with a donation of funds, goods or time today.