THE mothers line up, kiss their young children and babies goodbye under the watchful eye of a nanny, and file into the spa for a complimentary facial.
For Angela Santoro, those respites from the stresses and strains of motherhood are a great benefit to young mothers, and the reason she co-founded Modern Mama North Vancouver.
Santoro and Jai Onofrey brought the Alberta company to the North Shore in 2011, and have since organized frequent events for members of the maternal social club, including a recent spa day.
"The spa did it complimentary for us, for marketing from their perspective," Santoro explains. "The moms literally got to hand off their baby to a nanny while they went in to get a facial."
Modern Mama began in Edmonton in 2008 with the goal of providing the mothers of young children with a network of support as well as a social life. The company now has three branches in Alberta and locations in Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby.
Most events include a nanny service, while the members shop, take CPR courses, go on babysitter speed dates, or just decompress and chat.
With two young children, Santoro was looking to transition from her law career into something that would allow her to spend more time being a mother.
"I was at Gymboree one day with my toddler, and I was looking for something other than the practice of law, because it wasn't working very well with having a family," Santoro says.
One of the owners of the North Vancouver Gymboree centre overheard her and told Santoro about Modern Mama.
Santoro jumped into the new endeavour.
"It allows me to continue to use my brain, and work while I have two children," she says.
"It's allowing me to work every single day at whatever hours - three in the morning, six at night, whenever I can find 20 minutes or five minutes to spare - to work on my business," she says.
Santoro has meetings with baby supply stores, community centres, restaurants, vendors, and potential sponsors, and she says no one expects her to leave the kids at home.
"I can bring my children to almost everything I go to. . . . They can be incorporated into my business, which is what was essential for me," she says.
Joining the social club feels liberating for many young mothers, according to Santoro.
"They're desperate to get out of the house and do something, they just don't know where to go, or they don't feel like they can go and have their baby taken care of," she says.
The club is also helpful for mothers who may feel isolated, according to Santoro.
"A lot of our moms are new to the North Shore so it instantly connects them with other moms with children the same age," she says. "We could use an hour where we sit and we have coffee and we eat and we chat with other moms and we know that our babies are being taken care of right next door or on the other side of the restaurant."
Modern Mama attracts frequent sponsorship, resulting in inexpensive events with plenty of free merchandise, according to Santoro.
"We can keep our costs really low for moms, if not free, because of companies sponsoring events," she says. "That's my favourite part is that we don't have to charge moms very much for us to actually make a decent living."
Modern Mama's next big event is scheduled for Jan. 27 at the North Shore Play Music and Arts Gymboree centre on West 16th Street in North Vancouver. There are prizes, and face painting and the chance for one child to have their picture on the cover of West Coast Families magazine.
Info: modernmama.com/ northshore.
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