Family Fun Finder – Wilma Magazine
CChances are, if you’re a mom of young kids, have an Instagram account, and live in the Wilmington area, you’ve heard of WilmingtonMom. With 11,000 followers on Instagram, Amanda Hoffman, creator of WilmingtonMom, has established herself as the ultimate guide to local things to do by offering seemingly endless ideas for family adventures. A quick check of her Instagram page will cure any cries of “Mom, I’m bored!”
Hoffman moved to Wilmington in 2010 as a college transfer student, and now she can’t imagine living anywhere else with her husband and two young daughters. “It’s just a little piece of heaven,” Hoffman says of the coastal city. A few years ago, cabin fever during the start of the pandemic sparked the Wilmington Mom phenomenon: Hoffman’s first daughter was born in January 2020, and the surreal circumstances of lockdowns, panic, and isolation created a strange foray into motherhood. “It was difficult,” she says. “What a good time to be alive, I’m telling you.”
While Hoffman was still on maternity leave, most public gathering places were closed — she remembers the routine around Wilmington playgrounds — but she wanted to get out of the house. A new neighbor in the area asked her about a good place to take the kids. “I started hiking and going to new places I had never been before… and I started taking pictures,” Hoffman says. “I created an Instagram account because I thought maybe other people would want to know more about these places since we were all stuck inside.”
My mother was born in Wilmington.
Huffman was surprised that within a few months, her account had amassed a thousand followers. “I was like, ‘Oh, well, maybe I’m not the only one who wants to know where you’re going,'” she says. Over the past three years, its growing audience has followed its suggestions for family-friendly restaurants, fun beach activities and its comprehensive lists of seasonal attractions. Her ideas came mostly from her own research. “I spend many nights trying to Google things, and if I can’t find any (online) resources, I’ll go,” Hoffman says. “I would go and find out how big the playground was, or where you could park, or if there were restrooms there. I love adventure – I’ve always loved getting out and trying new things, and I wasn’t afraid to get out there with my little one and find out.
Eventually, local businesses and businesses began tagging WilmingtonMom on social media about opportunities, which helped generate new ideas. Hoffman, who began her career in non-profits in Wilmington and eventually transitioned to event planning, is leaving her job when her second daughter arrives in 2022. I will stay home and continue my WilmingtonMom adventure. it is fun.”
With more time devoted to her project, Hoffman began partnering with local businesses this year to host “Moms Night Out” events, and a newsletter is currently being planned. She’s probably most excited about her new children’s book, “Hello, Wilmington.” Last December, Hoffman bought a children’s book for her daughters about Santa coming to North Carolina, and wished there was one with a Wilmington title. “(My husband) said, ‘You know all these places, so why don’t you write a book?’” Hoffman recalls. “I started jotting down ideas.”
Her ideas have been combined into a children’s book that takes the reader to six classic Wilmington sites, such as the River Walk and the beach. In true WilmingtonMom form, each page contains a checklist of things to do, and the end of the book also includes a list of recommended places to visit. “It’s a good starting point to introduce (people) to the hotspots and hidden gems around Wilmington,” Hoffman says. She’s also excited about the book’s illustrator, Chris Fowler. “He was born and raised in Wilmington, and I don’t think there’s anyone better to do this than him,” she adds.
Hoffman is printing “Hello, Wilmington” locally and hopes to have paper copies out between late October and early November. “The goal is before the holiday so people can buy it as a gift,” she says. The book will be available on her website, WilmingtonMom.com, as well as at the Port City Book Club on Princess Street downtown.
In the meantime, she will continue publishing as WilmingtonMom. “It gives my mind an outlet for creativity,” Hoffman says. “It’s fun for me. As long as it’s fun for me, I’ll keep doing it.”
Take 5 with Amanda Hoffman
How do you find new places to explore? “Several ways: browsing Google Maps; Others share their discoveries with me. Local businesses contact me. I actually have a long list of places we haven’t explored yet! Like most families, we tend to visit our favorite areas frequently. What are some of your favorite hidden gems in Wilmington for family fun? “The New Hanover County Arboretum is probably one of our favorite places to visit. It’s rarely busy, and it’s free! We love to take a picnic or go feed the koi. We love walking in Abbey Nature Preserve next to Poplar Grove Plantation, Pages Creek Preserve, or Carolina Beach State Park When we want to be surrounded by nature. … The Smart Start Resource Room is a great area to have young children in. This resource room is basically a large playroom with a wide range of toys, a craft area and a small library. It is free and offers lots of resources For families who are homeschooling or small kits that you can take home for a small fee. (Membership is $5 per year.)” Why is it important for you to share resources and information with other moms? “Navigating the uncharted territory of motherhood is stressful enough, and by sharing what I’ve learned about Wilmington, we hope it will empower mothers to navigate it with more confidence.” What’s on the horizon for WilmingtonMom? “As for the children’s book ‘Hello, Wilmington,’ I’m excited to see it find its way into the hands of young readers. I’ll be promoting the book through different channels, and I hope to host some events where the community can help share the love of our city.” What inspired you to write a children’s book about special places to visit in Wilmington? “One night, I was reading a book about a famous city to my daughters, and it made me think how nice it would be to have a book that captured the essence of Wilmington. That moment lit a spark inside me, and I felt compelled to bring Hello, Wilmington to life.”
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
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