When you’re pregnant, you’re probably looking forward to escaping the rat race, and are imagining dreamy days lounging in bed with your cherubic new baby. No more scraping ice off the car windows before dawn, no more dressing up in pantyhose and suits, and no more struggling over whether or not to bring a lunch you know you won’t eat because you invariably give in and go out for lunch with coworkers. While I’ll admit that there were a few days that I didn’t get out of my pajamas until I heard my husband’s key in the door, more often than not I was up and raring to go, to get out of the house, to do something.
My husband thought he had a few years to go before he heard the first whiny “I’m bored” – he definitely didn’t expect it to come so soon and from me. It seemed I just needed more stimulation than a babbling baby could provide. I desperately needed to connect with other moms, but I couldn’t afford to sign up for the many mom and tot classes available.
Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, finding things to do that don’t break your budget can be tough. It can also be hard to find new people to connect with, people that are also home during the day and have children your own children would like to play with.
Striking up a conversation with a stranger just because they have a baby with them isn’t something everyone is comfortable initiating. Instead, turn to the Internet. People find the love of their life on the Internet – so why not find a friend for life? A local online community can provide a place for stay-at-home parents to get together both online and off.
On my first maternity leave, I assumed the only playgroups around were the ones that cost a lot of money in fees. However, I’ve since discovered that free or inexpensive community playgroups are abundant in most cities. Some of these groups are run by local health regions or family services offices, or simply are collectives of moms, requiring volunteering commitment rather than registration fees. Websites such as www.canadianparents.ca offer listings of mom and baby playgroups. You can join a group in your neighbourhood or start your own and find members through the website.
Many parents don’t join a playgroup because they’re unsure of what kinds of other people they’ll encounter. You’ll definitely find difference in groups. At one playgroup, the silence might be deafening – no one is really interested in getting to know the others. In another group, the chatter might be deafening, and regular playgroups can evolve into evening dinners, walks in the park, or nights out on the town, leaving the kids with a shared babysitter.
After Sera had her first son, Matthew, she found mom groups to be very supportive. “I was so overwhelmed with how my life changed after the birth of my son, and it was a huge comfort to meet with women who could relate to my situation.” Now with three boys, Sera has different interests. “If anything, I crave the company of my childless friends where we hang out and not talk about kids the whole time!” she laughs. She recommends leaving the baby with Dad to reconnect with your girlfriends. “You come back with a renewed energy, ready to tackle the challenges of motherhood,” she says.
Building a good circle of friends who have children the same age as yours is important for your children to learn socialization skills, and for you to keep yours brushed up!
Sarah Deveau is a mom of three, and the author of Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting. Visit her website at www.moneysmartmom.ca or pick up her book from Chapters Indigo.