Motherhood is stressful, and it’s something you can’t really understand until you’re in it. It can be very isolating, especially during the pandemic when it’s difficult to hang out with other moms and hard to give your child social opportunities.
Jennifer Monness is the owner of Union Square Play, an organization that aims to create a tribe of moms who can help each other during these difficult times in their lives.
What’s your background working with kids?
I began my career working with kids 12 years ago. I received my master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, and my first job was teaching English to 18-24 month old Mandarin speaking children. I then worked as the educational director of several early childhood centers for 8 years, creating programs that used research-based practices. I also was an adjunct professor, teaching undergrads getting a degree in early childhood education. I have also undergone extensive training in the RIE Educaring® Approach and am currently in the Intern stage of the certification process.
Why did you create Mo’ Mommies?
I wanted to use all of my knowledge to empower new parents. I have my own children, and I know how difficult being a new mom can be. I wanted to educate them through my blog, as well as create spaces for them to get together. I co-founded Union Square Play in conjunction with my blog. Pre-pandemic USP offered in person music, sensory, creative, and developmental classes for young children that allowed them to lead the way in their own learning. I believe that babies should be engaged, not just entertained, which is what I aim for with Union Square Play both when in person and on our online platform.
How are you keeping your programs going during the pandemic?
We launched USP Online, which focuses energy where parents need it most. We host 20 virtual mom groups every week. In the fall, we created Union Square Play Packs, which helped to support parents of children 1-3 years old by creating in-home sensory experiences. While I love all of these new things we’re doing, there is so much more we have in store. I also can’t wait until Union Square Play can reopen and I can work with kids in-person again.
How can your service help women be better moms?
There’s this emphasis on entertaining, stimulating and over scheduling young children instead of helping them learn and grow. While it’s good to have your baby occupied while you make dinner, raising them requires more than that. Sensory, music, and creative experiences open up a child’s word and their innate ability to initiate their own learning.
If your young child could use more stimulation during these difficult times, check out Mo’ Mommies and USP Online. Both will help you learn how to keep your baby’s mind busy so they can thrive even in current times.