My Saving Grace : For the Love of Mommy Groups.

When I was 30 weeks pregnant, we began a prenatal class through Douglas College at our local hospital.

I didn’t join it for the information, to be honest. With technology nowadays, you don’t need to take a class to know what to expect and the stages of labour or different medication options. There’s an app for that. No, seriously, there is.

I joined it because it was a chance to connect with 11 other mothers who were all around the same stage in their pregnancy and living in the same general area. It was a chance to seek and offer support in a very big time in someone’s life. And it was a chance to meet other people who are at the same stage in their journey as us.

My prenatal class ended, about a month before D was born. We all said our goodbyes with the plan of a reunion class that our instructor would arrange for about a month after the final baby was born. We all arrived with our little bundles of joy, our deflated tummys and our husbands in tow. We shared our experiences of labour and delivery. Our success or difficulties in nursing. We sat in a circle and introduced our children to one another. There were some tears and a lot of laughs.

And we said our farewells to one another.

A few days later I decided to make a Facebook group for those moms in our class. And it was probably the best thing I did. Not only have I stayed in touch and had play dates with those moms and babies (we even did a “one year reunion” in the summer!) but it opened up my eyes to online mom groups.

I joined plenty different groups around the lower mainland. Living in Burnaby, we were pretty central to everything and could jump on transit and be anywhere within an hour. D and I became quite active in the community; going to activities, play dates, classes, drop ins and even just cruising the mall with other moms and babies. I was able to socialize with someone who could keep up their end of the conversation (sorry, son) and we discussed anything we had concerns about only to find out that at least one other person had gone through the same and so they offered advice. I’ll be honest, D didn’t get a ton out of being in the stroller while we walked the mall at four weeks old, but he did have a happy mommy who was enjoying her maternity leave and time with baby. I didn’t have cabin fever or feel like the outside world was just a thing of the past. I looked forward to our outings and adventures. And as D got older, he enjoyed playing alongside these other babies and watching them while they watched him. He learned to share, to wait for a turn and to be gentle with other children. He learned to smile and wave at strangers and not be shy. He learned to climb onto the couch (I could have done without that, but hey, he learned something new!)

Honestly, without that support of moms, I don’t know what I would have done. I know of some moms that are home all day, with just baby, until their husbands get home. While it works for some, other times it can lead to depression or just general unhappiness. I was terrified of ending up in that slump. But thanks to the wonders of the online world, D and I were able to find several adventures to go on each week. We definitely enjoyed the days spent just the two of us in the yard or on a neighbourhood stroll, of course. Those days were also great. But even now, at 16 months, he is still always on the go or at least wanting to be on the go! He loves being out and about and seeing new faces.

If you or someone you know is about to be a first (or even a second, third or fourth!) time mom, I definitely recommend seeking out groups in your local area to connect with other moms. It can make a world of difference.

Not sure where to start searching?

Facebook : Search you city and baby/mom (IE : Vancouver Baby or Vancouver Mom) to get a list of groups; don’t forget to check cities close by as well that you would be able and willing to commute to! If there isn’t one for your city, create one and invite other mothers in your area. Those mothers will invite other mothers and soon you’ll have a great group of ladies ready for outings together!

MeetUp : There are plenty of parenting groups on this site that get together. There is a fee so some groups may ask for a donation to keep their group running.

Google : Same as Facebook. Just google “[your city] mom baby group” and check your results.

Library : Attend a few story times and introduce your child and yourself to the moms. Ask around about groups they know of or offer your email/cell number to arrange playdates if you hit it off.

Recreation Centers : Many centres offer a drop-in “baby class” where you can bring your little one and hear guest speakers. Also a great place to meet other moms with similar aged babies. There’s also drop-ins for play times for older, mobile children that is worth checking out! Enrolled classes can be great too – you get to know moms (and sometimes dads) as your classes repeat each week.

Strong Start : Look at your local School District website for locations of Strong Start. It’s held at elementary schools throughout the lower mainland for children ages 0-5 years old.

Public Health Nurse : Visit them and ask the receptionist. They have packages of information about local events and activities for children aged 0-5 years old.

Just get out and explore : You never know where you could come across some moms who know great support networks to introduce you to. Parks, pools and just out for a stroll is a good place to run into other parents.

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