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Season 3 #3 Sisterhood - Childfree by Choice Meetup Group

I am joined today by four members of the Sisterhood - Childfree by Choice Meetup group based in Ireland. Founded in 2020, it now has over 1,000 members with a range of online and in person events. I talk to Niamh, Kalyn, Katie and Ailish about how they came to be involved in the group, what the group does and the challenges around finding the right terminology to represent the wide range of experiences around this topic.

If you are interested in making friends, being accepted and growing your world please check the group out here - Online events are open to people outside of Ireland and the group are currently working to offer more regional activities around Ireland.

Episode Transcript:

Mgt O Connor 0:09

Hi and welcome to the Are Kids For Me podcast with your host Margaret O Connor. Today I am talking to four members of the Sisterhood Childfree by Choice Meetup group based in Ireland. Founded in 2020, it now has over 1000 members, has a range of online and in person meetings and is expanding around Ireland with regional events. I am joined by the group founder Niamh Madden, group member and organizer Kalyn Potter, group member and organizer Katie McDonagh, and group member Ailish Lally. We discuss how they each came to be involved in the group, the need for this kind of group, and the challenges around finding terminology that encapsulates the wide range of experiences around this topic. It is lovely to hear the openness within the group and the vital space it creates for childfree women to make friends, be accepted and grow their worlds. Please check out the link below to find out more and think about joining for yourself.

So hello, everybody. I'm absolutely delighted to be joined by several members of the Sisterhood Childfree by Choice Meetup group. And we have lots of.. lots of things to talk about.. about the group and about your your involvement in that. So really, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today.

Niamh 1:34

Thanks for having us, Margaret

Mgt O Connor 1:35

No problem. And so Niamh, I might start with you, if that's okay. So as as founder and one of the founders of the Childfree by Choice Meetup group, would you be able to tell me how it came into being or how you got to be involved with it in the first place, please?

Niamh 1:52

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So thanks a million Margaret. And so I suppose the group itself came about as a result of me just feeling really lonely one day, I just started to have a look online. And I saw there's lots of childfree groups, particularly Gateway for women who were unable to have kids. I thought that was a really good resource. And I started to think, okay, there must be some other women out there in Ireland who feel this way, because there was lots of groups on Reddit. You know, there was lots of different childfree meetups, but a lot of them were based in the US or the UK. So I just felt okay, Ireland, definitely very family centric, but there's got to be other women out there. So I set up, I actually got an email from Meetup with some kind of a discount to set up the group, and I was like, Okay, this is a sign. And I think that came in on like, New Year's Eve or something. So I set it up in January 2020. And the first meetup there was three of us there, we had a great chat, we went to a museum in Dublin and had a wander around. And yeah, I think from there really my, I suppose my initial thing was I wanted to connect women and I wanted to make friends. And it's evolved beyond that now, to more of a discussion group as well, you know, for women to feel that they can talk about the various different childfree issues in their lives and not feel I suppose that maybe someone's going to judge them or you know, that they have to talk about baby related or kid related stuff all the time.

Mgt O Connor 3:11

Wow. That's amazing. So from 2020, starting with three members to.. I checked this morning, I think 1,050 registered members. Yeah, three years later. Amazing. So I think, you know, yeah, you were right. There was a demand and a need for this kind of forum in Ireland in particular. That's amazing. Yeah. Brilliant. So who would have gotten involved next?

Ailish 3:37

Not me anyway, I think I was probably last.

Mgt O Connor 3:40


Kalyn 3:43

I was thinking that maybe I was because I was post, post the pandemic, I happened to go to our first in person meetup that that Niamh ran at St. Anne's Park. And so but Ailish, I think you were there as well.

Ailish 3:58

Yeah, that was my first one in real life as well. I had done a few online during lockdown.

Kalyn 4:03

Yeah, yeah. And I'll say I kind of just nose dived straight into thing because I actually moved to Ireland during the pandemic. And so we got here, my husband and I got here as lockdowns were starting.. measures were starting to finally dissipate a little bit. And so I'm not actually sure if I specifically searched for childfree. Thinking back to kind of my mindset in 2021. I don't know if that would have been like a specific thing I would have searched for. I was, you know, kind of getting to an age and realizing that in the US where I'm from, most of my friends were happening to not have children as well. And it was more like 80% of us weren't and 20% of us were and I don't know if maybe that triggered something for me or if meetup just was like, hey, this person seems to maybe be I don't know. Meetup just pegged me for it. But when I saw it, I was like, oh, this looks really cool. You know, I don't know anyone here. So I took a deep dive straight into the the first in person meetup. And after that, I was like, Niamh, you need more organizers. Let me let me get involved. And so I've been able to be more actively involved since that first meetup in St. Anne's, what was it like October or November? Yeah. 2021. Yeah.

Mgt O Connor 5:23

Brilliant. And Ailish, you joined as a member of the group then around that time as well?

Ailish 5:29

Yeah, so I had looked it up. It was definitely during lockdown. I was actually just in house work or something kind of boring, or gardening or something. And I was listening to a book about three friends, it's called Olive, you're probably aware of it. I think the group did it as a book before I joined. But in the book, the woman, I think she was a journalist, and she was deciding whether or not to have children. And she had a friend who had loads of kids and a friend who couldn't have children. And it was that just the dynamic between them. And there is there was meet up groups and not Meetup but like, you know, groups that met up for women who didn't have children. And I kind of thought there has to be something in Ireland, so I just Googled it, and the group came up. And so I think during the pandemic, it was probably a little bit easier because you could kind of test the waters a little bit by just jumping onto something online. But I mean, the group like then, I went, as Kalyn said, we just had a walk and coffee around St. Ann's in Raheney in Dublin, and the group is just lovely. Like all of the women are just lovely. That's you know, you people say that and you're like that can't statistically, it cannot be true. But like everyone is just sound to be honest, like and the thing is, as well, you were saying, maybe people might feel comfortable or whatever. But it's not like we sit around talking about not having kids all the time, like Kalyn runs a book club, like Katie comes from Waterford to the book club or like to Dublin for meetups and stuff like you can sit around just shooting the shit you know, like most women or people, you know what I mean? (laughter) So it is a really welcoming group. I've loved it. Yeah, we've Kalyn took me sea swimming a few months ago, that was an experience. And I did my first pole dancing class.. and last pole dancing class (laughter). And did like we've done loads of fun stuff. It's great. Yeah, it's a great way to meet people.

Mgt O Connor 7:10

Fantastic, and we'll come back to those topics in a minute (laughter). And Katie, for you, then when did you get involved?

Katie 7:18

Yeah, I think I got.. I know, I went actively seeking it. Because as much as like Niamh, I found myself in a place where I didn't really have anyone in my life that was of a similar mindset to me. I have friends that don't have children. And I have friends that do have children. And I've, you know, family and stuff. But I suppose what I went looking for was a kindred spirit really. Someone that might understand me a little bit better. So I actively went looking for it. I'd say it was around, I'd moved down...we had moved down to Kilkenny, I think in the March, and it was a couple of months later, because my first few events were all online. They hadn't actually gone back to doing face to face ones yet. So yeah, because I had searched before, and I joined Meetup explicitly to join the group, like it was that was why I joined, I hadn't been in it before that. And even though I'm in a few other groups, I've never actually gone to them (laughter). I've only ever gone to childfree events through the group. And yeah, I suppose I was looking for a tribe really. You know, you get to that stage, I think in your mid 30s, where a lot of people are starting families or have families and you know, I, the type of work I do, I tend to change jobs quite regularly. And it seems to be a common denominator among women, where they bond as they're talking about their children, you know, and you sit there a lot and go do do do (hmming sound). I don't because you're not sure whether to say that you don't want them because you're not sure what the response will be. And there's a whole that's a whole different topic of conversation. But yeah, I went looking for my tribe, and I found them for the most part. Yeah. And like Ailish said, everyone's, everyone's great. Like, they're just, they're just all lovely. And we do. I'd say we talk more about childfree stuff when we're doing online calls, but in the face to face ones it actually a lot of the time it doesn't come up. Unless you're having a one on one conversation with someone you've met for the first time and you say oh, so what's your story or, you know, yeah...

Mgt O Connor 8:51

Yeah ok..

Ailish 9:17

Yeah, it's a way I suppose to start a conversation with somebody who you've never met before, isn't it? Just like, we when we went see swimming and one of the women in the group said that she hadn't outed herself in work. So none of her colleagues knew that she didn't want to have children. And I was telling her about Niamh's bugbear when she says that she's tired and people with kids are like you couldn't possibly be tired and it is really annoying. It's like don't tell me if I'm flipping tired or not. So this woman was like, yeah, I think in work if I'm tired. ..I think they probably think I'm getting IVF or some needles or something so they never complain (laughter). So I thought that was really funny that she hadn't outed herself. I out myself left, right and center. Yeah, so I'm the opposite.

Mgt O Connor 9:59

That is a brilliant point because like the the tagline on the group is make friends, be accepted, grow your world. I love that because I think they're really important pieces and you have touched on all of those like, a) just not to be the only person in this type of situation and b) be accepted for that. You don't have to wonder, is it okay to talk about this or not talk about this in this particular setting, and yeah, grow your world, you know, find people, find activities, and there's, I'm gonna say they're really, I was going to say basic, they're really core needs, really important needs that we all have. And to be able to facilitate that for people is such an amazing thing to do. It's such a powerful thing to do.

Niamh 10:42

I think the grow your worlds bit like, I've definitely seen, from my perspective, how much diversity is in the group and how many different people I've met from around the world. I think the pandemic was a great time in a way for women who weren't in Ireland to join. And that's when we did start talking more about the issues, because we did a few of the online quizzes and things like that but it got it got to the stage, we were like, Okay, I think we're ready to move on from the Zoom quiz and do something different. So we did a few conversation cafes, where we talked about a lot of the topics that come up, like, and I know you've covered this as well, on your podcast, who's going to take care of you when you're older, you know, you might regret it. When they're your own kids, you know, it's different than if they are other people's kids. So there's a lot of stuff that we got to talk about. And I think things that I had had in my mind but never really verbalized them. And so it was lovely to hear other people's perspectives. And I think what Ailish mentioned there about outing yourself, I was really nervous about outing myself, I wanted to be that confident person who could just say like, oh, yeah, this is me, this is my life. And I'm grand with that. But I think I had this perception all growing up that I was going to have kids and you know, I come from that kind of a background where it's, it's important, like family is very important. So my own perspective on myself was, I almost let myself down by, you know, not following that path. And what's really inspired me is, like the girls said, like everyone in the group is amazing. And they have their own unique background, their own unique story. And whether you're someone who hasn't yet outed yourself as such, or someone who like is really strong and powerful in you're that's my life and I'm totally cool with that, I think it's lovely to see all those mixes, and I feel like it has helped me grow as a person, and especially meeting like Ailish, Kailyn and Katie, because I feel like the three of you have such strong like, you're such strong women and I'm like yeah, I just really enjoy hearing your own stories and the way that you're able to love and accept yourself. So I think that would be for me is the ultimate thing that people can love and accept themselves. And then also that they get to hang out with people and like that not have to talk about being childfree. That childfree isn't a label. It's just, it just happens to be part of, you know, your life choice, but it's not exactly defining your existence.

Ailish 13:05

Yeah, it's like remember the article you shared last week, Katie and I made the point that like the absence of something doesn't define you. Like, if you were missing a limb, you wouldn't be referred to as the armless or the legless woman, it would be really insulting. Do you know what I mean? Like you just wouldn't, like you can't define somebody, but equally, when I see friends who I've had a long time, you know, from school or college or whatever, who now have children of their own. I don't think of them just in the realm of being a mother. You know, because that's not fair to them either. They are other you know, they've hobbies, interests, opinions, whatever jobs, fellas, missuses, whatever. So like, it's, I just, I don't walk around going I'm childfree that's me. I don't need a t shirt. Like, there's lots of things about me that define me, but I don't need. I don't know, I've just never wanted to have children. So I've never even I've never given it a second thought. It's never been a thing. Like, oh, God, I won't fit in. Like, to be honest, I've never really flipping fit in, in loads of other ways. But like, I don't genuinely just don't care. Like, if you have a problem with it, that's your problem to deal with. It's actually I can't take your problem on board. Yeah. You know, like, maybe I think you having loads of kids is a problem, but I mean, I can't take that out, you can't take that on board. And you know, like, it's just live and let live. I just don't. Yeah, so the group is great, because you can just have a little whinge if you need to but like yeah, as I said, we don't talk about it all the time, but I've just met so many people who you've never meet. You get to a certain point in your life and really, meeting new people is maybe if you move house or country or you know, whatever, or job, or if you take up a new hobby or something. So and I actually moved house a few years ago, and I have found it really hard to make friends because most people around me especially people in my age bracket, all have young children. And so a) they don't have to spare time and b) like, I don't really want to sit around talking about their baby's nappies like you know that just is not an interest of mine and you're not meeting people outside school gates and all that. But the people I've met in this group, I mean, like, I'd never have met them. They're from all over the world, amazing professions. So interesting, like I love talking to Kalyn about her research and stuff. Like, it's just brilliant. So cool like.

Mgt O Connor 15:17

There's yes, I suppose there was a few things in there...what things that I would hear from clients is that sometimes they do feel if you look really at social media, and and I'm including, you know, maybe the type of groups or the different types of social media groups for childfree people, they can feel quite.. a word that is used, it's not one I'm using, but a word that is used can be militant, it's like, you have to be like 300% childfree, there's no room for doubt, or, you know, so it's was a an issue that people would find, like, they don't know where they fit in, they don't know if they're ready to be there yet. So from what you're saying, there's a mix, and it's okay, wherever, wherever you are, is fine, you don't have to pass the threshold (laughter). You don't have to show commitment to the cause or anything like that.

Ailish 16:06

Kalyn, weren't you saying the last time we were out that there were a couple of women in the group who weren't 100% Who you had met, I'm sure there's more. But that you had met, weren't you saying that last time we were out?

Kalyn 16:16

Yeah absolutely, because I will say you know, and we've had, you know, with the way of meetups, you know, you sometimes get people that have signed up for an event that don't recognize, for example, that it is a childfree group, they just see like, oh, people are going roller skating, or something like that. We've put in extra measures, all of which, like Niamh had set up from kind of from the outset to make sure people were aware. And we have had people so one of the questions is like, do you identify as female? Whether you were born that way or not, we're open to you know, as long as you identify as female, you're welcome. But also do you identify as childfree, and some people respond and say, maybe or you know, I'm still figuring it out. And we've actually had some really interesting ones I had someone not too long ago, they were like, kind of, I've had a child that flew the coop really young. And they think of themselves now as childfree because they don't want to hang out with all their friends who still have four year olds. So it's like, I mean, hey, yeah, if that's where you put yourself mentally, if you identify that way, then that's one of the things that I was surprised by, like, again, it wasn't something I consciously really thought about. But when you look at it on the difference, and you realize how diverse our community has become, it's kind of awe inspiring to think like that, that we have created this, this network of people that are just so open, and like we've already touched on just like everyone's really sound and it's technically impossible, but it's the case which has been great.

Mgt O Connor 17:47

That's brilliant to hear. And it's something you know, I'm definitely continuing to discover, you know how nuanced this can be. It is so much more than childfree versus childless or childfree versus parents. I guess. It actually even annoys me at this point, that debate is so pointless, and so basic, it completely misses the point. So yeah, so you're you're experiencing that already that yeah so it's it is up to the person, you're not saying who can or can't come. If this experience resonates with you, if you're happy to be in this context, then then you're welcome.

Ailish 18:20

I think even sorry, Katie go on.

Katie 18:22

No, you're grand. I think even amongst the four of us, we have different perspectives on it. You know, myself I'd be like Ailish, I've, I've known since as far back as I can remember that I didn't want kids. So even the whole childfree by choice thing, the choice, the choice doesn't really apply to me, because there was no choice to be made, it just was. And so it's just, I never wanted them. But then I feel sometimes like I'm the stereotype, I'm the I'm the child hater (laughter). I'm not a fan at all. And so it's like Cruella Deville in the corner, scowling. It's, at the same time, I love my nieces and nephews and my friends who have kids, and you know, it's not. But for the most part, I'm, I'm not fussed and as far away from me as possible. So but then I know there's other women who love children, there's women in the group who actually work with children, they're teachers, and they will work in social services and stuff like that. And I've also met women in the group who will be on the fence and haven't made a decision on it yet. And maybe this is a space for them to kind of either come to terms with that or to move in the opposite direction and either is fine. Like, I wouldn't have an issue if I met someone in the group and then they turn around and said well actually this has helped me decide that this I do want to have children. I'd be like, well, that's wonderful if it's helped. It doesn't have to go. I know, from my perspective, I wouldn't see it having to go one way or the other. You know, I wouldn't have it wouldn't be like, oh, you've abandoned us. You know, there's there's over 1000 of us, we've got we've got a tribe now there's loads of us, we don't need to worry.

Ailish 18:22

And there are loads of mammy groups for her if that happens.

Mgt O Connor 19:52

That's lovely to hear. I think that's really important. And yeah, because I suppose.. maybe that's where the militancy thing comes in that for some people it is... And I do understand at the same time that it can..there maybe can be a sense of loss, like if a friend or if you know, somebody in your life, you know, does choose to have children that can impact the dynamic, but in your group, as you said, yeah, that's fine, it's not breaking the rules or anything. Yeah.

Ailish 20:21

One thing that struck me about the group, I suppose. So I have a couple of friends who don't have children by choice. And it's not something that again, that you that we've ever really sat down and talked about or analyzed. It's just like, oh god, that that that would be awful. And that's kind of it move along, go for a pint whatever. And, but I didn't actually realize that the fact that nobody in my life ever made it an issue really. One person who I had to have a chat with But literally, I'm 42. So that's I'm doing pretty well. It might be because I am very confident in my decision. I'm very happy about it. So when people say to me, do you have children I very, very smiley face say no. Like, I don't cock the head like no sadly.. So I'm sorry my point was, other women in the group haven't had it easy like that. So there are women in the group who have say parents or grandparents or sisters, brothers, whatever, and parents in law, who have given them a lot of, you know, hassle about it. And that never even really dawned on me. So then I spoke to my mom. And I was like, I never realized actually, that I'm really lucky. I hadn't told her about the group. And I just told her about it recently, we were going somewhere and that, and I mentioned it. And I said, like loads of them, their moms gave them hassle. And I said, god, I'm really lucky you and dad just never butt in. To be honest, my family are like, thank god, you didn't do that. You'd be useless, because I have no patience. So they're just like, yeah, it's not the life for you. But that, so I've realized that about my own kind of setup, you know, that I've been lucky, which didn't dawn on me, because you only know your own experience, you know, to a certain point.

Mgt O Connor 22:01

Really important. Yeah. So that acceptance piece is really, really important. So yeah, to accept that, okay, if you're unsure, that's fine. If you're sure, that's fine. But and like that there's an understanding that there is some commonality, but it's not the be all and end all like you weren't having deep, meaningful conversations when you were trying to stay up on a pole I presume (laughter).

Ailish 22:23

Definitely not (laughter).

Mgt O Connor 22:26

Yeah, fantastic. And so yeah, I know you've said this so this question might not be right. But is there any kind of typical group member? So I know, you're saying there's a lot of individuals, but is there any yeah, just again, I suppose I'm thinking for people who maybe aren't part of the group, could we kind of paint a picture of what things look like for them?

Niamh 22:48

Yeah, I think that's a really good question. Like, there's what I would say is there's probably different maybe personas. You know, we have a lot of women in the group who are single, and there's even then there's a meetup. I think it's tonight, though, it's like single income, no kids (SINK). So there's a whole load of women who are going to that. And I think that's what I love about it is like there's no typical member, but there are different groups with different interests within the group. So we also have a lot of members who are into like fitness and running and holistic things as well. So like Kalyn ran a soundbath for us. And we also had like, Wellfest, we all went to Wellfest last year, a good few of the women who are interested in that. So I would say there's a lot of different types of women. There's also then a lot of women who I've noticed this have moved during the pandemic, so and you know, folks that like Kalyn, maybe have moved from another country, or have moved down to the country from Dublin like Katie. And kind of like just trying to find your people. And I think in a world where in our 30s, or 40s, or beyond like it is hard to make new friends and to take that next step of like, maybe you go to yoga class or something, you meet someone you're like, oh, do you want to go for a coffee or something? It's not as easy, I think, as it was when we were younger. So I definitely feel that there is a sense of a lot of the women in the group are maybe in their 30s plus. And we did have a girl joined who was 18, she joined one evening for the online session. And we were all fascinated, we were like, wow, we want to learn more and hear more from you. So I would say there is definitely, like I said, not a typical member, but there would be like, different sort of subgroups within the overall sisterhood community who have their own interests, and or maybe are in a certain age group, because I know one woman wants to have kind of like, plus 50s age group meetup within the group. And that was really nice. So she organized a dinner. So you have a lot of different folks. The fact that meetup allows you to have co organizers and people to help out means that I'm very open to what people want to organize themselves. And I think the big one now is I want to really connect women who are not based in Dublin, because it is quite a Dublin centric group. So that's been my goal for this year is to connect women who are outside Dublin because it can be lonely, you know, if you're not in a city, maybe where there's more options.

Mgt O Connor 25:12

Yeah, I wanted to ask about that. Because again, I suppose that will be something I hear so yeah, how.. and I suppose it sounds like that's such a lovely natural evolution as a group, you know, so that you're big enough now that it can support those smaller groups of interests. And you're even getting that idea of the profile of yeah, there are different issues for different people at different stages of life and things like that. So yeah, how is that developing? The getting regional branches going?

Niamh 25:40

It's going great, yeah. And I mean, Katie's organized some stuff so you might talk about that. But like, what I've really enjoyed is like, we start off with kind of an online group for, you know, people who are maybe from Leinster outside Dublin, or Munster and that so we've had different online groups. And then I tried to connect the women afterwards either on WhatsApp or you know, on Meetup together. So that's been really good. Because like that, then folks can go and self organize their own like Meetup or chat or hang out. Or they can use the meetup group to actually find more people in their area. So that's been really nice. We've had, we have another event coming up in Galway, where one of the women based there is setting something up. So yeah, so far, so good. Well, maybe I'll turn it over to Katie and see. And Kalyn because Kalyn was just moved as well.

Katie 26:30

Thanks. Yeah, I've had I've had one event down in Watford so far. And I've another one, actually, next weekend, there's only a couple of us signed up to it so far, but we'll see how it goes. It's a they definitely I'd say the events will end up being a bit quieter down here. But I, and it would be very easy for me to just go into the Whatsapp groups with some of the women, which we have, and just to organize it in there. But I kind of want to try as much as I can set up an event because I'd like it. Maybe for other people who don't know about the group, they might see the events. And they might go oh, actually, that's for me. So I'm definitely going to try and do that as much as possible. You know, and especially because I've I've been kind of busy over the last while, but we're coming into the summer now I'm going to try and get a few bits and pieces up and running. And we have another member in Waterford who is planning on starting hosting some of their own events soon. She'd be kind of into the sea swimming mindset and you couldn't pay me to get into the sea (laughter)

Ailish 27:26

Kalyn almost have to pay me (laughter).

Katie 27:27

I admire you all. I think you're very brave. I'm far too much of a coward. I like to be warm. So yeah, no, that's not happening. But I'd wave from the shore and go good luck, well done Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I 'll have coffee afterwards

Ailish 27:42

Yeah you have a big thing of coffee for us.

Katie 27:45

Hot chocolate. I'll bring a flask. But yeah, so there's this. Yeah, I plan to do more as I said, I do think it's important to try and try and keep them on the Meetup app as much as possible. And hopefully, some other local women might find the group that way.

Mgt O Connor 28:00

Definitely, yeah. Yeah. Okay, Kalyn, then you've moved recently. So do you have some plans in your area now?

Kalyn 28:09

Yeah, no, I've actually been, this group has just been amazing. Because when I was in Dublin, of course, and I still I still do meetups in Dublin, particularly our book club. But one of the girls that's that's down in Waterford that will be doing some of the sea swimming, we actually met at a sea swim in Dublin. And both kind of just we started going actually more regularly just together when others weren't able to join. And so now that she's moved to Waterford, really hers was a return journey as I think she's actually originally from Waterford. But now being in this area. It's been wonderful to have Katie nearby, the other sisters down in the Waterford area, and one of our other organizers, who was in Dublin also recently just moved to Carlow. So I feel like I've got kind of people peppered everywhere and it's made me really just feel so grateful. Because I feel especially you know, when you move from another country, I've been here two years, not even quite two years, to be able to say like, oh, I've been living in Dublin, I just moved but I have you know, three people down here and a person over here. I feel like that's very atypical. And so it's been really wonderful to do that and I haven't yet hosted anything down the Waterford way or down in Carlow but that's definitely going to have to be on the agenda for this summer for sure.

Mgt O Connor 29:27

Yeah, that's great to hear. I suppose what I would be hearing from clients.. I suppose the importance of having somebody that it's almost the the informal chats like the events are great and everything but you know, to feel like is there someone I can text or have a phone call with, you know, can I pop out and meet somebody because I suppose it can feel and we understand why that might be very hard to see your friends if and when they're having children because you know, life gets busy and all that kind of stuff. So the more spontaneous or informal network is really important. But that takes time to develop as well. So being part of the meetup is fantastic, because it gives you a starting point. And then as you said, you can kind of find your own on network, either of interests or area as you move along, but sounds brilliant,

Katie 30:19

I think you do need to be patient with it. Because as I said, I'm in the group two years, and it's building more and more for me, you know, getting to know even with Kalyn, local now and we've gotten a chance to meet up and the more in person you do, and the more you get to know people, it becomes much easier each time and it starts to kind of go from there, then all of a sudden, you might start exchanging numbers, you will be in WhatsApp groups together, and you're building a relationship. But it did take time. You know, because I went in, it was like, I want to find friends, I was all excited. And then it was very slow burn. So I have to kind of, you know, pace myself and calm down and not get too disheartened. And it does take time. Yeah, that's was that's that's the one thing I would say. We're doing, I think a lot more in person now, maybe, maybe the odd more online one might be good to throw in as well. I know Niamh is doing some kind of regional ones at the moment. But I think sometimes online ones, you get other people maybe from Ireland, from other parts of the country, and even outside Ireland that aren't necessarily looking at the in person events that much because they think, oh, they're all going to be Dublin based. So if we could get that message out a bit more to them saying, we are doing regional stuff now they might start paying attention more to the app.

Mgt O Connor 31:29

Yeah. And you know, it's a two way process. You know, I suppose the more people from different areas join, the more demand there is and the easier it is to organize events, you know, so it's kind of a chicken and egg situation isn't there? So yeah, that's a really that's a really important message. Yeah. And just on that for people outside of Ireland, so obviously, they can join and take part in the online activities as well, that's, that's open to them if they feel an affinity with the group?

Ailish 32:00

Yeah, I remember there were lots of Americans on one of the online chats during the pandemic that I was at, they were American women in the states like, yeah, and it does kind of make things a little bit more interesting, because there's obviously cultural impacts, you know, to decisions like this. So they will obviously vary from, like region to region as well. Like one of the women, I can't remember her name, remember the woman who was doing her dissertation research? Niamh, and a few of us did interviews with her. Yeah Yeah, she was actually Italian. So I was curious what it was, you know, in Italy, kind of what what the social or societal reaction might be, you know, would be similar to here, you know, Catholicism, blah, blah, blah, so stuff like that, those kinds of dynamics, I think are interesting as well.

Niamh 32:52

Yeah, I think it brings a lot more to the group. And initially, when I set it up, because we weren't, it wasn't the pandemic culture of going online. We had, I think, three in person events before the pandemic hit. So it sort of opened up new avenues, even to me to be like, okay, how can we, you know, I think a few people joined from the States because the time zones were friendly, I think it was an evening event, an evening online event, and then folks in the States could join from their morning. But it really did, like to me that like, there was a demand from a lot of different countries. And I think, like Ailish said, just hearing that other people's backgrounds and cultural upbringings and the challenges that they have, that maybe we didn't have, even folks who've moved to Ireland and said, oh, I feel so much more relaxed here. So much more comfortable, I feel like I can, you know, be myself as a woman, I don't have all these other kind of cultural expectations. So particularly, I suppose, a few women from India have said that and, and from the Middle East as well. So that's been really interesting. But I think, definitely like having those different perspectives seems to just highlight to everyone how even though we're all maybe have a similar mindset, we do all have different expectations that are placed on us as a woman in whatever society we're in.

Mgt O Connor 34:12

Yeah, yeah. It's really interesting to hear that because again, just talking or thinking of some clients who may have.. are Irish have moved away and come back, they feel the pressure more. And I'm just thinking of particular people, you know, so that's really interesting. So I suppose it's all very relative, so from where you're where you're from, but it's nice to hear that that's their experience.

Niamh 34:36

And yeah, and we've actually had women like that as well, join who moved to the UK or Australia and have come home during the pandemic and have just found that all of their friends who were like, oh come on home, come on home don't have time for them now because they have families. So they're sort of like okay, I moved back to Ireland, but actually, it's not the Ireland that I knew, it's not the Ireland that I left. And they don't necessarily have same network, so there are quite a few women in the group who have been in that situation and have started to even meet other women who've moved back from the UK or from Australia, and kind of find solace there together and have a chat.

Mgt O Connor 35:13

Yeah, you know that word acceptance just keeps coming up to me. And, you know, I genuinely find it so moving. It's so important, like, no matter what else is going on in our lives, like if we feel like we're isolated, if we're the only ones, if we feel like people don't understand us, like, that is horrible. It's so disheartening and challenging to our sense of self, so to be able to give people that sense of you are not alone, there are other people who understand it might be slightly different, but we understand themes, and are so accepting of, like, whatever your experience, it is, and that's fine. It's so important. It can like, just make such an impact on people's lives, it's an amazing things to be able to do. And on a voluntary basis, in your free time (laughter). Yeah, so you know, and I don't, don't underestimate the amount of work that goes into it. So just to give credit to that as well, to keep, you know, to have grown so much, and to be so consistent, and to create a space where people do feel safe. That doesn't happen by accident.

Niamh 36:21

I think as well, without all the members without like everyone pitching in and organizing, and like the girls on this call who've just been like fantastic at bringing everyone along and making it a really warm and welcoming group, it just couldn't exist. So I feel really grateful to have met so many amazing women and like to know that there are women out there who want to support each other and lift each other up. And like that, especially if someone does feel alone or isolated, or like people don't understand their decision, and equally, if they feel like accepted, but want to meet new friends, I think there's definitely something for everyone in the group. And I think there's like that, it's it's an ongoing, evolving thing, because there's definitely feedback I want to take on board, like making it more accessible for people outside Dublin, you know, and I kind of welcome feedback and, and conversations that, you know, might stir up a bit of like, oh, are we doing this? Are we doing the right thing here? Or is this the right thing to do? And, for instance, we did have someone, we had a couple of men contact, get in touch, and be like, why is this group for women only, you know, this is really exclusive, and so on. So I kind of felt like, you know, this is a good point, like, why is it for women only. And then when I thought about it, I want it to be really safe space for women to be able to be themselves, make friends and so on. And I didn't want it to end up being like a dating kind of scenario, potentially. Which you know, and again, that that does exclude certain people, it excludes men. So that's something that I grappled with, as well as like, how do I make sure that the kind of I know you can't please everyone, but I want to make it so that people don't feel like it's this kind of too exclusive thing.

Ailish 38:06

I think the experience of deciding not to have children is very different, especially for heterosexual, like if you're in a in a relationship, the reaction to a man saying that he doesn't want to have children just that alone versus a woman. It's just, they're just streets apart. Like years ago, I started a new job. And my husband started a new job, like within a couple of months. And I remember one evening, just asking him, if people in his job had asked. A) he was almost never asked if he even had children. They probably only for his wedding ring, they probably wouldn't have even known he was married because they just wouldn't have asked. Whereas like in the door, like I was asked if I kids? And I said no, but I was asked repeatedly. You know, whereas he said god, he was like he couldn't even think off the top of his head if anyone had asked him. So it is it's a different experience for women. Like we're the walking uteruses, I feel sometimes, you know. So, like, if that bloke wants to set up a group, go ahead. Meetup and other platforms are there knock yourself out. Have a man group. And I don't mean, like, and I won't feel excluded from that, because you will have a very different experience that we will have as women. I do believe that.

Mgt O Connor 39:18

Yeah, yeah, and I suppose it's interesting to see how that group formed out of your personal you know, awareness that you needed this. So equally, yeah, that's, that's open and there could be great crossover potential later on, but at this stage, you know, and was that a decision I suppose that you could have made as a as an organizing committee, or would you have discussed it with the larger group?

Niamh 39:42

That was, I guess from my side, that was something that I really wanted at the very start was to have this super safe space. You know, I kind of felt like I wanted to make more female friends. I wasn't in the market for hanging out with like guys so I don't know.. Yes, I suppose is just a personal decision from my side. And also then I... So as part of kind of setting up the group, I was doing a course on innovation and creativity. And part of that was the design thinking model where you go out and you survey people and understand like, what are the challenges that are faced. So I surveyed again, I surveyed I think men and women, couples, non couples, and so on and tried to get a diverse set of backgrounds, and also women who wanted to have kids and then women who were unable to have kids. So some really interesting conversations with women who weren't able to have kids. And I had to try and decide, okay, is this group going to be for women who can't, or women who don't want to, and when I discussed it with a woman who was quite involved with like, the Gateway group, and and being kind of involved there, I realized it's a completely different set of needs. And that's something that I didn't feel like I could provide support for, or, you know, mitigate if there was any kind of like oh I can't stand kids, and then someone is like oh I really want kids. So that was another decision that I had to make to be like, okay, is this something that is going to create more conflict in the group or create more harmony? So it's an interesting one, I think, to try and get right, and to understand, like, who needs who needs it? And what can you help fulfill with those needs I think.

Mgt O Connor 41:25

Yeah, absolutely.

Katie 41:27

No, I was just going to say I think there's a space there as well, for women with children who don't really want to talk about them. You know, because I like my, probably one of my oldest dearest friends is in Australia. And she said, she really resonates with women who don't have children. Because for her, the experience of being a mother is a very private thing. It's not something she particularly wants to discuss and get into. And she, she loves talking to me, and she never chats to me about your kids, I have to ask at times, she's like, oh, yeah, they're grand. But she doesn't, she doesn't want to, you know, it's her own, it's her own approach to it. And I can see for her, she'd love to have a network of women. And maybe men too, but particularly women, where she could have conversations that didn't have to revolve around being a mother. And I do think there's a gap there for that as well, where you could have different women of different backgrounds, maybe you could be childfree, or childless, or, you know, whatever, don't have to apply any kind of label to yourself, or you could be a mother, and you just want to have a space where it's just not a topic of conversation that comes up. And I think there's a gap there for that as well, it could be something nice for someone to fill at some point, you know,

Mgt O Connor 42:37

That's a great idea. Yeah, that's a really important point. Because I suppose it is that thing that society tends to choose like, okay, you are a parent and therefore, you know, you must enjoy it, you must want to talk about it all the time and it's the only thing we're going to recognize about you. And and then the opposite if you don't have children, but yeah, it's really interesting. And it kind of what I was going to say about timing, I think, I think there is a space, I think there is great potential for strength and community, I suppose, with childfree and childless people at a time in people's lives. Because I suppose, however you get there, the experience is similar, or can be similar that, you know, you can be affected by the same type of themes. You know, so I suppose once you maybe have done your own processing, if you need to around it, you know, again, there, you know, I don't kind of like this idea of separating everybody into into categories. But I think the timing of that is very important. So yeah, to kind of respect everyone's process, but yeah, that's a really interesting idea. So there's loads of potential avenues to go. And, yeah, and one thing I wanted to ask, I think we've touched on it a little bit already. Is that again, sometimes I would hear from clients and as I said they would know about your group, or I might tell them about your group. But it feels like a big step, you know, to join feels like oh yeah, if I do this, this means something, this means I've made a decision or this means I'm sure or, and I know, you know, some people have joined and may not have actively engaged. So it's kind of, you know, they like to see what's going on, but they don't feel ready to actively take part in it. So as I said I know, we've kind of touched on it already, but I just feel it's an important thing. Like, yeah, just to maybe get your perspective on it or what you'd say to that.

Ailish 44:30

Margaret, can I just ask you to kind of clarify when they say they know about it, but they don't want to dip their toe in too much or whatever.. Is that because for them, then that's it like, you know, it's it's nearly like that the decision is fully made now, and they can't ever then decide that I actually do want to have children? Or is it that they think that we might be a little bit scary or that we just sit around and talk about not having kids or people who are giving out about people with kids, which isn't the case all as we've discussed? I'm just wondering why.. there's probably a range of reasons. But I just wanted to kind of see where they are coming from.

Mgt O Connor 45:06

Probably a bit of both, and yeah, and I think it probably comes back to the to the language. And that's not It's not your fault (laughter). The childfree/childless piece.. Am I on the fence, you know that a lot of people find that those labels don't reflect their experience. And so I think, the thought of okay, yes, if I put myself in this group, this means something. So that's not coming for me at all. This is very much, you know, people's own personal experience. But I just thought it was very interesting, because I suppose I hadn't really thought about it that way, or because it's so nuanced. You know, if, I mean, there's so many different examples, but you know, if, okay, so say, I haven't had children, but I'm married to someone who does have children. You know, so there are children in my life, or? Yeah, it's just there are so many different are like that. I'm not sure yet. Or there's pressure, you know, if I say I've done this, if I tell other people I'm part of this, what would it mean is, there's a lot. There's a lot to think, or there can be for some people, a lot to think through what does it mean to click on that join button or to click on the, you know, I go, or I'll turn up? And I'm here with this group of people, you know, so it was, yeah, it's not your responsibility, but I'm just just wondering, do people ever talk about that? Or do you get any insight into that?

Kalyn 46:34

I'll say that, you know, it's, it's interesting, because, as I mentioned, before, I actually kind of by happenstance, a lot of my other friends in the United States, and even some that have moved to other parts of Europe as well happened to not plan to have children for one reason or another. And I will say, one in particular, has commented they're like, and this has come up even even already it is, I've mentioned the group to them and say, like, there's things that we do, and it's not, it's not even just that it's like, oh, well, you're childfree and we're childfree, you should come be childfree with us. It's more so it's actually specifically the events we were hosting. I was like, you're really into that. Would you be interested in coming to this? And they were like, well, I, you know, I never plan to have children. No, but it's like, I don't identify with this idea of being childfree at all, like children.. it's kind of what what Ailish was saying at the beginning, it's like the lack of something doesn't, doesn't create an identifier for me in any way. And they have other reasons that they're kind of mentally grappling with, you know, would this group be the group for me. Yeah. And some of that is, you know, that they're also younger, and so they're not currently confronted with all of my friends have children, and I'm alone. So that could be something that evolves. But I think that, at least for me, and I'm hoping that I would assume that others feel the same is that we want this to be an open space for, for anyone, and as we've discussed, is that many people do come to the group who are still grappling. And so it's, if people feel like they're outing themselves, I would, I would say that, know that, you know, if you come and make connections, and if you're, you know, having conversation to get clarity on what is my choice, what makes sense for me, and if you decide, at some point in the future, that, you know, hey, I am, you know, going to have children or hey, my, you know, I don't feel like this is my identity or anything like that. We're not going to fault you, if you kind of dip your toe back out. And it wouldn't lose you the connections you've made or anything like that, either.

Niamh 48:38

I think that's a great point. Kalyn. And like, I love the kind of conversation we're having around language, and what is it that people identify with, and I suppose, looking at the language and sisterhood, like it is very much childfree by choice, the language is there. And I think we mentioned this earlier, it was because of some people were turning up to.. we were calling an event like, like the roller disco. And we'd have people join didn't realize maybe that this was a group for women who didn't have kids. But I think there is definitely a space for on the fence or, you know, unsure or maybe women who have not had kids just by circumstance. And, and I think it's a space that I think would be great to explore. Because I'd love if there was a way to assure people that they're not outing themselves or you know, that joining the group doesn't mean that they have to participate. They can just observe maybe, and I think we've all been, you know, lurkers on various different like Reddit threads or groups. So, yeah, I think, I mean, it's making me think about how can I make the language more open as well so that folks feel like they, you know, whatever stage they're at, whether they're thinking about it, they're not sure. And because I was on the fence for, you know, about two or three years, and I did loads of research, I read loads of books. And I know there wasn't really as many opportunities to chat with women who are feeling the same way who weren't sure. So, uh, yeah, I think it's a really great opportunity to explore and I'd be, I'd be happy to look at how can we make the group feel more accessible and not like a kind of a label that someone has just placed themselves into?

Mgt O Connor 50:21

Well, I think you know, I think it's a much wider debate, you know, around the language we have. And I think a lot of people feel that the labels we have don't work (laughter). But it's hard to find something that encapsulates all the nuance. But that's, that's a work in progress.

Katie 50:37

I think as a society, we're very, we seem to be very obsessed with labels at the moment. And we all have to label ourselves with something, we have to put ourselves in some sort of category. I wouldn't, as I said knowing from a young age, I don't want children but I would never have said I'm childfree by choice. Even now, I might be in that group. But I don't identify that way. If I speak to people, I'm like, I don't want children, I have a dog. That's enough of a commitment for me. And that's as far as it goes. Like, I, I would refer to it in the terms if I was talking about the group and the sisterhood and stuff like that, but it's more even the sisterhood. I think that's actually a more important title for it. You know, it's a community of women who are kind of maybe going down similar paths, but some might branch off and do different things. And that's completely fine. You know, so there's, I think, Niamh what you were saying about looking at the language and making it more open and making it more accessible to some people who might be getting more hung up on the childfree by choice moniker. But there's even in sessions that we've had, there's been some women who say they actively don't like that. They don't like to describe themselves as being childfree. And there's others who would embrace it. There's some people who prefer to say they're childless, even though they've chosen not to have children, whereas I don't particularly like childless because it sounds like a negative to me. So it's, there's nuance around it, but it's, I think it's very easy to get bogged down in labels, you know. And if you join the group, you can sit there, you don't have to come to an event, no one's going to make you. And if you do come to an event, and we never see again, that's fine as well, you know, so it's, it's, it is a bit of a risk, it's taking a risk, it's, I think it's taking a risk if you go along to any kind of established group. And that's something I try and do if I'm at an event and I see someone I've never seen before, or I've never encountered before, and I'm like, oh, are you new? I will go out of my way to try and make them feel welcome. Because it can be very difficult to walk into an established group, especially book club, because we tend to get the same people every month. So and I think a lot of us are very conscious of that. And we want it to be a safe welcoming space for women you know.

Mgt O Connor 52:44

I suppose you know, it's almost yeah, I do I get your point, you can almost tie yourself up in knots trying to trying to name...

Ailish 52:54

It's almost overanalyzing something, like, you know, like I was saying at the start of the call, having children or not having children doesn't define the person you are, you know what I mean, like, you might have a baby now or not. And then in 10 years, you'll have a 10 year old hopefully, and whatever, and then you'll be in your house empty again, like just, you know, and all three of those periods of your life you'll identify somewhat differently. Like, I was joking with my brother the other night, I was like, oh man, 21 year old Ailish would be embarrassed by 42 year old Ailish you know, because the state of my life I'm like Jesus it's half nine and I'm not in bed (laughter). You know, whereas at 21 I would have been like I'll never be like that, I'll always be massively sound. So like we all you know, we all change throughout our lives but one thing I would say to your clients if any of them hopefully will be listening is just give it a try. It's like anything just give it a go. And I mean, there's things that we've done in the group that I never thought I would do. I didn't see myself out in Greystone swimming in February, I won't lie. I didn't see myself hanging out of a pole, I haven't told my mam and dad I went to that class (laughter). And loads of other stuff, like just ranting on a zoom call with people that I've never met about like some angry book we did in Book club. I read a book about magic Margaret, I've really come out of my comfort zone (laughter) so just give it a go as I said like the group we don't sit around talking about it all the time. It's not.. we're diverse and we're, it's a way to meet people it's actually just a great way to make some new friends or even just to go for a brunch on a Sunday afternoon when you might not have anything else to be doing with yourself. Like there is a few of us going for lunch tomorrow and it will be a bit of craic, come along if you want don't if you don't want.. you know it's like not a free for all but it's a safe kind of just just pop along give it a go. I would say if you don't like it, as Katie said, if we never see you again we're not going to hold it against you. You know everything can't be for everyone. That's okay as well, isn't it you know,

Mgt O Connor 54:38

But it sounds like if it can be what you need it to be. Yeah, well, I suppose. Yeah. The members obviously need to be active. Well, I shouldn't say they need to be active but I suppose, you know, if you need something from the group, it sounds like you can ask for it. And you know, people will try to respond but as the group, you need to know what people want or need as well. Yeah,

Ailish 55:16

I know when joined, I didn't tell anyone. Initially, I told my husband, and then I was going to the first like, meet up in real life. I told him, I didn't tell anyone. And it was partially conscious. Because I thought people like, say, my sisters, or my female friends with children will just be like, whatever. You know, surely, that's just not a requirement in your life type of thing. I told one of my friends and she's massively sound, she's got two kids, and she was like, oh, that's a great idea. Sure we've no time to be going out. You know, that was her approach. And then I kind of realized, actually, it's grand. And also if people have problem with it, so what. Yeah, but that was the only semi conscious thing that I didn't initially tell people, because I did expect the eyeroll. And then I kind of thought well you go to like baby yoga, or whatever, other shite you do on a Tuesday morning, and I can't comment on that, because you know, you're raising the next generation. So I kind of just thought, I'm just gonna tell people I don't care. Like I was in the roller disco last Saturday night, like an absolute 10 year old and it was amazing. And I told everyone (laughter).

Mgt O Connor 56:17

And again, I suppose the important thing is that it is for fun. This isn't drudgery. It's not about you know, it's not a witch's coven. Although if people wanted it to be, I'm sure it can be (laughter). But you know, it is fun. It's about trying different things, and meeting different people and just yeah, fun. You know, it doesn't all have to be very serious. So that's important. I think that's really important.

Katie 56:38

If it was a witches coven, Ailish wouldn't come along because she's not into fantasy (laughter).

Kalyn 56:43

Although both our partners love to poke at us and say, oh, you're going to meet your your coven?

Ailish 56:50

I haven't.. I told Kalyn that because our husbands sound kind of similar. I hadn't kind of outed him in the group (laughter)

Katie 56:56

Well your outed now (laughter)

Ailish 57:02

But yeah, he's like, you're going out now with your coven. And I'm like, they're not like that!

Kalyn 57:06

We always have a good chuckle about it each time with each other like, yeah, we're meeting up again, we will do a little séance, its all grand (laughter).

Ailish 57:12

When I told him about this, he was like, oh, sweet suffering Jesus, are you going to actually potentially influence anyone else in the world (laughter).

Mgt O Connor 57:19

But I would say that I think it is an important point. Because you're you're again, you're creating space by by just being yourselves, by just living your lives and showing, hey, this is one way again, it's not, you're not recruiting, you're not looking to convert anyone. I always feel the need to say that, or for me either like this is just facilitating space for people who need it. And people have come again, you look at over 1000 members. And so there is a need. And that's really valid. And it's really important in its own right. So yeah, it is, you are being influential. Just just by being yourself, which is really important. I just want to check, is there anything else you think you'd like people to know about the group or anything else that yeah, we haven't gotten to yet?

Kalyn 58:12

I think one big thing is to just, it's still evolving. Yes, that's the thing. And so we have, we've touched on this a bunch. But it's you know, there's gradients of activity and engagement. You can sit back and just watch what's happening. We have a little thing for called Spontaneous Susan for people that aren't doing an official thing. Just say, hey, I'm, you know, I'm going to Phoenix Park tomorrow. Does anyone want to come along? You know, so it's something that we and Niamh has been so great about continuing to kind of poll people and say, what do you want? What can we as organizers do? And if you really want to get gung ho and become an organizer, great, but you very much don't have to and you can, you know, show up once every six months, you can show up to every you know, meetup every event if you want to, it's it's really a continual evolving process that it's been a lot of fun to be a part of, and to kind of watch itself take shape.

Mgt O Connor 59:05

Yeah, I really hear that.

Ailish 59:07

And the organizers are always from where, from my perspective, anyway, as a non organizing member, everyone seems very open to just any idea. You know, like the woman who organized the roller disco last week, she said that she hadn't really intended to become an organizer, and then she saw things that interested her. And she was like, oh, maybe no one else will do it. And she was like, if you think of anything, just let me know, like, send me a text or whatever. Everyone's open to, you know, ideas. And again, you don't have to go so like there's stuff you know, that won't interest you and that's fine. But there's bound to be something that will I mean, who doesn't want to talk about books over brunch? You know, so things like that.

Niamh 59:49

So yeah, I'd definitely echo what both of you said. I think like that it's all about co creation. So even the the idea of like having people who are organizing or not organizing, and that kind of thing is more just a Meetup terminology. So it's really about what do people want? And I get a lot of private messages, which I love getting saying like, hey, would you consider doing something in Sligo or oh, you know, I'm based here, um, I'd love to do I'd love to organize some kind of a brunch. And, and I think again, it's just about facilitating people to meet up. As the name suggests, because one of the things I noticed was there was a lot of Instagram communities and Reddit threads, which, like have their own place, but I really wanted to do was just meet people in real life or meet people online and have deeper conversations or have like, actual craic together, have the fun. And you know, not have to kind of maybe get too serious if you don't want to. So I think there's yes, like that there's going to be an evolution in any kind of a group. Probably the biggest challenge now is that because there are a lot of members, maybe some members do, you feel a little bit more isolated, because there's only so many kind of meetups you can organize. So what I'd love to see is like that what Kalyn mentioned about the Spontaneous Susans meetup, it's just a way for someone to kind of say, hey, I've got a spare ticket to the theater tonight, or I've got another, I've got a gig that I really want to go to, but like nobody else likes them. Does anyone want to go because I think there are moments where you just really want to hang out with someone who maybe has a similar interest. So I would definitely say, if any of your clients are interested in like, sharing feedback, ideas and suggestions or contacting any of us directly, we're all really, really open to hearing and coming up with different ideas together.

Mgt O Connor 1:01:44

Okay, well, look, I think we've gotten a really good sense of what the group is what you're, you are doing what you're trying to do. And I really hope that if anybody's listening and is curious, you know, that they now feel able to go along, have a look, you know, reach out and you know, really access what sounds like a really positive, accepting community, and just how important that is for people. So thank you so much for taking the time and coming on to talk to me today. I really appreciate it.

Ailish 1:02:14

Thanks Margaret.

Katie 1:02:16

Yeah. Thanks, Margaret. It's been great.

Mgt O Connor 1:02:19

Thank you.

Thank you to my guests for taking part and to you for listening. Please check out Are Kids For Me on Facebook and Instagram for more content.

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