Earlier this year, my sister-in-law said, “Hey! Did you hear MamaCon is coming back?” I said, “That’s awesome!” and then slyly Googled it on my phone. Usually, I feel like I’m plugged into the “Mommy” world and was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. I found out that MamaCon is a Seattle-area conference for Moms that started in 2012 but had taken a break in 2015.
The main theme of MamaCon is all about connecting Moms to create a community. I’m a big supporter of PEPS in Seattle (a nonprofit that helps parents find their village.) PEPS has really shaped who I am as a Mom. Because of my great experience with PEPS, I wanted to build on that through MamaCon.
MamaCon offered me two tickets to come check out the event. I’m fortunate to have a really solid community of Moms in my life. I immediately thought of my cousin who has two small children. We used to hang out all the time before having kids, but I realized we hadn’t spent anytime together without kids since starting our families. This would be the perfect way to reconnect.
My cousin and I both walked into MamaCon with no expectations. We picked up our name tags, which contained our schedule, drink ticket and 5 paper clips. We perused the vendor booths and then headed into the main room. There were no assigned tables, so we grabbed some free spots and chatted a bit with other guests at our table. We still weren’t sure what to expect from the event.
All of a sudden, Casey O’Roarty (our emcee) took the stage. She explained all the info on our name tags and told us that we had 5 paper clips. There were lots of different colored paper clips and the goal was to stop and talk to other Moms and exchange paper clips. By the end of the event, everyone should have an array of colored paper clips. I usually don’t like to make small talk with people. However, this proved to be an easy way to break the ice.
With this housekeeping taken care of, it was time for the event to really kick off. Leanne Kabat is the new head of MamaCon. What’s super cool about Leanne is that she lives by the motto “No Mama Should Mama Alone.” She really means it. In fact, she spent the time leading up to MamaCon helping Moms she had never met before on projects. It was all about connecting one-on-one with someone to accomplish something. This resonated with me.
After the speakers were done, it was time to follow the schedules on our name tags. My cousin and I both headed to the Style Room first and looked at the booths. There were a lot of helpful resources for Moms looking to revamp their style. While we were there, we met a Mom of adults who runs a preschool. Since my cousin and I each have two small kiddos, it was nice to hear about her experience with little ones and the different stages her kids went through. It felt like a meaningful exchange and I was impressed that the paper clip idea worked.
Next, it was time to do our first round-table discussion. I met with Sheila Storrer. She’s a life coach. I’ve never met with a life coach. Her first question to us was about what we would do if we had an hour to ourselves. This question struck a chord with me because I had no idea what I’d do. As we talked, I realized that I need to actually leave the house in order to feel like I’ve taken a break. I left this session feeling like I had a tangible game plan for setting aside some time for myself.
My second session was with Casey O’Roarty of Joyful Courage. She has a podcast about positive parenting. She asked us about issues we’re having with our kids. We told her about toddler tantrums, threenager attitudes, etc. Then she asked us to think about our kids as adults in their late 20s. She wondered what personality traits we hoped for them. We told her we wanted our kids to be confident, good communicators, polite, and about 30 other things. She recommended that we start modeling the behaviors we hope to see in our kids because they learn most by our example. While I already knew it in theory, it really resonated with me after I started listing the characteristics I hoped my kids would embody.
After this session, I found my cousin and we talked about the different sessions we went to and we were both surprised that we got so much out of each 30 minute roundtable discussion. We headed toward the refreshment area where they had an array of delectable treats. We sat in there and started talking about things outside of motherhood that bring us joy. For me, working on this blog has brought me an incredible amount of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment. My cousin had an idea of what she’d like to do to feed her passion and we talked through how she could reach her goal. We both lit up when we talked about our personal projects and I was thankful that we had this opportunity to connect on this level.
We grabbed beverages at the bar and headed into dinner. Again, there were no assigned seats, so we found spots at a table and chatted with our table mates. Everyone seems so happy and relaxed. My cousin and I headed to the buffet and continued talking about life outside of raising little kids.
The keynote speaker was Sharelle Klaus, founder and CEO of Dry Soda Co. I was sipping on a Vanilla Bean Dry Soda and have ordered Dry Soda in several restaurants. I love that it’s not too sweet and it’s especially great for pregnant and nursing Moms who want a sophisticated (but non-alcoholic) drink to pair with food. Her story about how she got started while raising four children and homeschooling two of them was fascinating.
After her speech, she asked for questions from the audience. Someone asked her for tips for transitioning back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home Mom. She told them that she would hire a Mom over anyone else in a heartbeat. She explained that Moms should talk about their skill set they’ve developed as Moms because it translates seamlessly into the workplace. Skills like time management, scheduling, and conflict resolution are vital. This was the first time someone had advised me to “own” being a stay-at-home Mom on a resume. I loved this!
The confidence that my cousin and I gained at MamaCon is priceless. Since attending, I’ve registered for two blogging conferences. These will be some of my first trips without my kids. My cousin also launched her own business. MamaCon really gave us that extra push to follow our dreams.
MamaCon provided me complimentary tickets. All opinions are my own.