Parents’ play: Stay-at-home moms and dads form support co-op
For stay-at-home moms and dads, the isolation from other adults can be tough to bear. It can be lonely, with many of the day’s activities focused on the children.
“Sometimes I feel like I am in a rut,” said Nevada County resident Laurie Cerroti on a recent afternoon while talking with other moms – Wendy Browning, Erin Dixon, and Kendra Asbell – about plans to start a cooperative for parents who stay at home.
“I just need a place to come to and be on a computer or have some personal time,” she said.
The four women are part of a group of area moms who are forming a co-op that will likely be housed in an office space on Hughes Road. The plan is that it will serve as an outlet for socialization, creative networking, event center, and even business incubator.
“It’s for the mom first, so they can be rejuvenated,” said Dawn Nichol, the mastermind of the idea. “It’s for brainstorming for personal growth, or doing something for the community. Again, it’s about supporting the mom.”
The group, most of whom met as members of a Sierra Care Physicians moms play group who called themselves the “Leakers and Squeakers,” is now looking at leasing an office where kids would be both welcomed and encouraged.
The space, which is the former home of FREED Center for Independent Living, has a kitchen, outdoor patio, and large area for children to play. The 1,350-square-foot space is now empty and on a recent afternoon, the noise of children playing and moms and dads conversing echoed off the barren walls.
Nichol already has plans to convert one corner into a sound-proof office space, where working moms can lease a desk for $200 a month – a rate that would include everything from access to fax machine to gourmet coffee. Others who might not need a desk can join for a monthly fee that would be “cheaper than a gym membership,” Nichol said.
The hope is to have about 25 or 30 parents. So far, Nichol said she already has about 20 who’ve expressed interest, including a few fathers.
Mary Kay representatives Heather Troncao said she and Nicole Lamb, mothers of two and five children, respectively, had already been looking to lease an office when Nichol approached them with the idea just a few weeks ago.
“We have unit meetings and a lot of group functions; we work as many hours as we want, this just seems to work perfectly,” Lamb said.
Both said they got into the Mary Kay business because of their desires to stay at home with their children, but that it can be tight squeezing into living rooms.
The co-op will also allow women like Lamb and Troncao to network with others who might have the same business interests, while allowing them to stay with their children, something that is important to Troncao.
“We have a network of women in and of ourselves, but we want other moms to talk to. For moms to be able to stay at home, that’s important for our society,” she said.
Kim Culbertson Sagebiel is a novelist, tutor, runs a college counseling business, and is a career counselor with Forest Charter in Nevada City. She’s also a mom of an active 20-month-old daughter, Annabella, who “loves anything and everything.”
She said she was looking for space where she could spend “a big chunk of time” once a week. Typically, she said, she goes to coffee shops or other places where she can bring Annabella, but that it would be nice to have one location. It’s also a chance for women to advance themselves not just as moms, but as career women, too.
“It’s a way to support each other and take it to the next level. It is about what we do as career women,” she said.
Others who are interested in joining can also use the space to hold book club meetings, brainstorm projects, or learn about how to start a new business.
“I really want (the co-op) to be able to support the whole woman,” Nichol said. “It’s for moms who want creative outlets.”
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Between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, 10,000 Nevada County residents were either ordered or advised to evacuate as a result of the River Fire.