It’s just days before I leave for MomCon. MomCon is a highlight of my year. It’s one of few times a year when my mom-account is balanced, and (for once) is in the black. (Unlike my checkbook which is never truly balanced. Truth: I don’t care about that .13 I can never find.)
I’ve been with MOPS for over 20 years, and I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for MomCon attendance, that I thought I’d share….
*Be forewarned… I am a MOPS Mentor… I don’t pull any punches, this is the stuff you really need to know- TMI or not.
Disclaimer: This post is my advice as a MOPS Mom and leader- not as a representative of MOPS International.
MomCon Tips and Tricks
Bring comfortable shoes. No, really. The last thing you want is blistered toes, trust me, it’s totally distracting, and even if the shoes are CUTE, bloodied toes, are not so much.
Don’t over pack. You will, so will I, because I pack like the jerk... But, I’m saying it anyway. Don’t over pack. It’s like eating vegetables…. I put them on my kids plate knowing they won’t actually eat them, but at least I don’t feel guilty for not offering them.)
You need: pen, paper (I bring a new notebook just for convention every year. then my notes are all together.) bible, an empty bag for free-bies and shopping that you can either check on the way home, or carry on. Don’t forget your camera and chargers… and cables.* Also, some exhibitors don’t accept credit cards, so you’ll want to bring bring some cash for incidentals, tipping and shopping.
Pack simple snacks in case of emergency. Ummm preferably fibery ones…you will need the fiber.. trust me* (See below) Try as we might, feeding this many moms all at the same time, or finding restaurants that can accommodate your group for your budget can be tough. Time is tight, and you’ll be cranky if your bloodsugar dips. Bring a few healthy snacks to keep you happy and satisfied.
If you need a few “*minutes to yourself,” take them! Be honest with your room mates. Tell them to go ahead without you, you’ll meet them at general session. Use a code word. (Our group’s code was “Polly.” If you need to take a “Polly,” take one. If you don’t you’ll get the polly-grips. (Poligrip? Does anyone remember the denture cream commercials?) Girlfriend– if you don’t go… you’ll end up feeling like someone poligripped your guts. That, is a very bad thing. Don’t make yourself sick by having nature’s calls answered by a bodily answering machine. Bring a copy of “Everybody Poops” and read it aloud to them the night you arrive.
Seriously, I’ve made myself sick trying not to poo when anyone’s around.LEARN from my mistakes! Eat fiber and do what you gotta do. Traveling is hard enough on the tummy-don’t make it harder. Your tummy is your friend, keep it that way. Yes, I’m belaboring this point, because I’ve seen too many women sick at convention because of this:(.
I know, I know, your period isn’t supposed to be this week… be prepared anyway. Periods like MomCon. It’s probably all the estrogen. (I think this number of moms in one place, at one time creates some kind of estrogen vortex. I believe it’s strong enough to affect the weather and synchronize schedules so: be aware! Also-you’ll be the super hero of the room if you’re prepared and someone else isn’t…
If you are a caffeine freak (I am, so I can call you one…) consider packing some tea bags, or *gasp* instant coffee in case of emergency. Everyone thinks they can grab a cuppa on the way to general session and you CAN, however, the lines can be long. Plan ahead! It’s worth it to bring a travel mug too- then you’re all set. I’m bringing Starbucks Via- because I can totally snort it if necessary. Yes- I’ll be the one with a coffee ground mustache. Nobody wants a caffeine headache. (Or, wants to deal with a cranky caffeine fiend in withdrawal. :P)
SKIP Something. I know, I know. You paid for MomCon. But, please don’t feel like you have to exhaust yourself trying to get the max for the minimum. This ain’t TJ Maxx.
I’m not saying spend the whole weekend shopping. I’m just saying skip one workshop (There’s probably one you can’t remember why you signed up for it. ) Just sit by the pool. Explore the beautiful hotel. Take a nap or, have a nice, quiet, unhurried lunch by yourself. You’ll be glad you did. I always am!
However- DO NOT SKIP GENERAL SESSIONS. You will regret it if you do. Just sayin.
TALK TO PEOPLE. SMILE. These are your people! We are ALL in this MOPS thing together. We’re sisters from all over the world. Smile in the elevators! Talk to women who seem to be alone. If you’re shy, watch for name tags or MOPS paraphernalia- consider that an invitation to connect. Make sure NO MOM IS ALONE at MomCon. Make it your personal responsibility. Just ask: “Where are you from? What are you looking forward too? Favorite thing so far? How many kids did you leave at home? Have you been to MomCon before?”
This makes all the difference between being AT MomCon, and being a PART of MomCon. Your smile, your chat, your connection makes a difference! ** double bonus points if this is outside your comfort zone. If you talk to someone you don’t know and it’s hard for you- find me! I’ll give you chocolate. (I’m not kidding.)
Give feedback. Don’t complain. Like any event of this size-stuff goes wrong. (umm like floods and hurricanes and toilets that overflow and lines for coffee and such.)
Deal with it. I don’t expect you to ignore problems. But, please- deal with it appropriately. Standing around griping about the lines and how YOU’D plan things so much better, just spreads discontent and hurts the feelings of the hundreds of people who’ve worked to make this event amazing. WE are MOPS. Handle your complaints like you would with a friend.
Use the evaluation survey that will be emailed when you get home. These aren’t ignored. Each one is read and we improve whatever we can, each year. If you see something that really needs to be addressed immediately- find, text or call your MOPS Volunteer Staff Member (Now, is a good time to look her up on the www.mops.org website) or, a MOPS Staff member and talk to someone who can either help- or find someone who can help.
Respect your roomies. MomCon is special. It’s like Vegas, without the sin. What happens at MomCon stays at MomCon. If someone in your room snores, gets gassy or poligripped- don’t write about it in your newsletter or on your blog. Don’t talk about it with your friends. Enough said.
Sleeping with people you don’t normally sleep with, is weird. We all know it. No one wants to accidently put their feet on the butt of the chick you’re sleeping with because your body thinks she’s your husband and your feet are cold. (Maybe that’s just me.. oopsy) Try to work out who needs what side of the bed, who needs a little light on, or some noise in the room, in order to sleep. Try to find a room temp that works for everyone. Be flexible, but also be honest about your needs and try to meet the needs of the girls in your room. The morning people can shower quietly in the morning.. the night owls can do so at night…. work together, girls!
Be ready- someone in your group-will have a meltdown. Be gracious and forgiving without taking responsibility for everyone’s happiness. When you have women together for any amount of time, someone is bound to have a meltdown. (Maybe more than one) This isn’t the end of the world. Give each other some space and some grace. Remember: You may be the one who needs it later that day.
One of the biggest relational struggles I see, is when moms try to make everyone around them happy. It’s just not possible.
If girls night out isn’t your thing. Don’t go. If you’re not a shopper, relax and meet up for lunch. It’s OK! You don’t have to make everyone happy!
Don’t over spend. Travel is expensive. MOPS has done everything possible to make it as affordable as possible- plan your budget wisely . I also suggest visiting the exhibitor page at MOPS.org and plan a few purchases in advance. No one wants to arrive home and find out they’re overdrawn or, in debt. Be careful!
MomProm: Don’t miss out, because you’re stressed out. Keep it simple- you don’t have to find a dress that was actually worn in the Great Gatsby Movie. Just throw on some cheap long pearls from the costume aisle and a headband or boa and have fun. This is our night to just be US. Together. So- whether you go all out or not- just: go. We’ll all be glad you did! PS: the most flapper thing on me will be my arms…. I’m over 40- it’s how I roll.
Plan ahead to give- Yup. I know: You had to pay your airfare, gas, meals, registration, get your haircut, buy new shoes, etc.
Consider NOW, before you leave, how you can give a bit back to MOPS International during MomCon. Pack your own coffee and give that $30 (whatever your addiction would cost:) during the offering. Skip that new pair of shoes that will just give you blisters, and donate the $, instead.
Why? because it makes a difference. MOPS is ours and needs OUR support. We want no mom to be alone… and that costs $. Consider monthly giving, or a one time donation. Just give what you can. But, plan ahead!
You’ll be glad you did.
See you soon!