We love getting to know parents in our community. In our Home Work series, we ask moms and dads how they juggle their work while raising kids, hoping to get some insight on how to better balance our own work/playtime while being introduced to our neighbors and their cool businesses. Today, meet Kathy McGuigan — social worker and co-founder of Rhode Island New Moms Connection.
Kathy McGuigan, MSW has been working with women and children for 16 years. As a social worker, she has provided services for women and children in a variety of settings including shelters, community health centers, and schools. The support Kathy received during her pregnancy and as a new mother inspired Kathy’s work with pregnant and parenting women. In 2007 Kathy co-founded Rhode Island New Moms Connection and since then has enjoyed facilitating New Mom and Pregnancy Support Groups which combine her passion for supporting new mothers with her professional skills and experience. Kathy received a BA in Psychology and Women’s Studies from Fairfield University and her Masters Degree in Social Work from UC Berkeley, but she is currently receiving the best education of her life from her daughter Alex and her son Kyle.
Kathy will be one of the featured moms at our event, Balancing Motherhood on Monday, May 7th from 6-8 pm! An evening to celebrate all of us who are juggling what we do everyday in our lives. In honor of Mother’s Day (May 13th) real moms will share their stories on how they balance their life as parents with their passions, work, relationships, and plans for the future. Please join us for good conversation, drinks, snacks and raffles!
Kidoinfo: What inspired you to start your business?
Kathy McGuigan: My transition to motherhood was not easy and I faced some challenges after the birth of my first child. I was living in Northern California and joined one of the many new moms groups in my area. I received much needed support from the other new moms in the group as well as from the facilitator. I remember thinking to myself that one day I’d like to be able to offer the same kind of support to other new moms.
Kidoinfo: How did you start your business?
Kathy: I am a social worker by training and had worked supporting women and children in a variety of different settings for years however, during those years I was not a mother myself. When my first child was 6 months old I moved from California to Rhode Island and met my now dear friend and business partner Kristen Kardos. Very early on we realized we shared a passion for supporting new moms. We talked about creating new moms groups where women could openly share their experiences of new motherhood without worry of judgment. Facilitated new moms groups did not exist in Rhode Island in 2005. It was important to us that groups be supportive, affordable and accessible to all new moms; and we began hosting groups in different locations around Rhode Island. In 2008 we officially named Rhode Island New Moms Connection, built a website, and began expanding.
Kidoinfo: How do you balance work and family?
Kathy: Currently, I work about 15 hours per week and have childcare for 8 hours (for the hours that I facilitate the groups). My kids are around (or asleep) the other 7 or so hours that I work during the week. I wouldn’t say that I have figured out a “balance” of work and family time but I have figured out ways to prevent and manage the overwhelm that comes with raising a family and owning a business. Fortunately, at this point my children tend to play well together for periods of time and I use that time to work. Also, by committing to an early bedtime for the kids, my husband and I have our evening time to spend together, alone or to work. Finally, by limiting scheduled activities for my children and encouraging their playtime together (and alone) I have been able to carve out bits of time every day to work on my business and still have family time too.
Kidoinfo: If you could give your past self (pre-kids or pre-business) any advice, what would it be?
Kathy: I would tell the single Kathy to enjoy the moment and not to worry so much about what the future holds (or doesn’t hold) because she will work it all out when the time comes.
Kidoinfo: Where do you find inspiration?
Kathy: I am inspired by other mothers, especially those with few or no resources who raise their children while working and are able to hold it all together day after day. I am fortunate to have a supportive husband and family, community of friends, and other resources and I still find motherhood to be very overwhelming at times.
Kidoinfo: What do you do with your kids on a rainy day?
Kathy: We pull out the art supplies and make a mess (and some cool projects too). This winter I discovered that I can fill up a plastic basin with soapy water and a rag and my kids will “wash” their plastic play dishes for hours. And an added bonus is that the kitchen floor gets clean too!
Kidoinfo: What is the last great non-kid book or film that you loved? What made it so great?
Kathy: I recently read “Dreams from the Monster Factory” which was written by my friend’s partner, Sunny Schwartz. It tells the story of the author’s work as a lawyer and advocate in the criminal justice system in San Francisco; this reminded me of my years of work with families in shelters and schools in San Francisco. While reading this book I was transported back in time, to my pre-motherhood life, which was fun for me.
Kidoinfo: Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Kathy: I love to read blogs and I guess you could call me a “lurker.” It really is like being a fly on the wall in someone else’s life so it feels a little funny sometimes but my intentions are good: I love learning how other people live/raise their kids, strategies they use as parents, what makes them tick, etc.
Kidoinfo: How has the experience and on the job training of being a mom prepared or changed you in business?
Kathy: It is because of my rocky transition to motherhood, and my experiences as a new mom, that I do this work — to provide support for new moms. I have so much empathy for new moms and the challenges they face and can truly offer non-judgmental support because I have “been there.” I know that fundamentally we have much in common as new moms; and we are all doing what’s best for our families and deserve to be supported through this journey. I feel so honored to share in the journeys of the new moms in my groups at and it has also been a healing journey for me as well. The quote : “We give comfort and receive comfort, sometimes at the same time” is a wonderful way to sum up my work with Rhode Island New Moms Connection. I feel very fortunate to do this work…which often doesn’t feel like work at all.