The Ultimate Community Toolkit for New Parents
May 30, 2023
Congratulations on your beautiful growing family! This is an exciting time full of new experiences, but this season comes with a whole new set of interpersonal challenges. It's incredibly important for you to have a solid support system in place during your transition into parenthood, as it can make all the difference. In this post, my goal is to provide useful tips on how to build your community for life as you travel into a new chapter of your life.
Unlocking the Power of Your Local Community
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your family is to build connections and community in your local area. You need friends to surround and support you as a village through parenting.
As a mom and doula, here are some of my favorite tips ways to build your local community:
Join local mom or parent groups online or on social media. Facebook or Reddit can be great places to start, or joining a virtual community space like the Anja Community. Many groups have regular meetups and events where you can connect with other new moms and connect with your local resources. These groups can be an invaluable place for finding support, advice, and making new friends.
Check out the local library or community recreation center for classes and support groups. Local events I’ve seen in my community have been led by artists, authors, or music teachers and there’s often something for each member of the family. Attending these events may help you feel more connected to the place you call home and give you the opportunity to learn something new in the process.
Join a mom and baby fitness class. If you’re a new parent, this is a great way to get some exercise while also connecting with other parents in your community. Besides the physical benefits, attending these classes will help you build friendships and find support in this new phase of your life.
Hang at the local park and strike up a convo. It can be all sorts of awkward for the first few minutes, but children are the great connectors! Ask the mom or dad on the bench next to you about their kiddo’s latest milestone, and tell them what your kiddo’s favorite snack is at the moment. You’ll be surprised how easily conversation can flow. (Don’t forget to exchange #’s if you hit it off!)
What to Do If An Old Friend Ghosts You
It's not uncommon for old friends to seem to disappear after you have a baby. As you travel into a new chapter, old friends sometimes struggle to find their new place in your life. Your priorities have shifted and it’s true you have less room for spontaneity. It can hurt, but a bit of understanding can go a long way.
Here’s what I recommend when a friend you love ghosts you:
Reach out to them. Don't be afraid to be the one to reinitiate contact. They may be unsure of how to approach you now that you have a child, so it may take you taking the first step by reaching out to ask them to catch up.
Be honest. Let them know how you're feeling and what you need from them in this new stage of your life. They may not realize that you're feeling lonely or overwhelmed. Explain to them that you need their support and friendship during this time, and how you prefer to stay connected.
Remember this is not necessarily a reflection of you or your friendship. People's lives change, and sometimes friendships struggle to evolve without extra support and communication. Your entire world has shifted with the arrival of your baby, you have less personal free time than ever, and your friends are going through their own changes and challenges.
Build a regular cadence to catch up. Even if you can only swing one dinner out with friends per month, or a quick FaceTime or phone chat during the week, scheduling a regular time that you connect with the friends you love can help prevent drifting apart from the busyness of life.
Building a Solid Support System Matters
Having a support system in place can make all the difference during the early days of pregnancy is vital, but sometimes it’s difficult to build new friendships while your entire life is shifting. Here are a few suggestions if you’re still struggling to build your village:
Hire postpartum or parenting support. Whether a doula, a baby nurse, a nanny, or a mother’s helper, having support is vital. If community isn’t happening serendipitously, it can make all the difference to be proactive to support your needs by hiring support.
Ask your pediatrician or primary care provider for a recommendation. Your medical providers can be very well connected in the local community and know about resources that are available.
Building a supportive community is crucial to navigate the challenges and joys of parenthood. By utilizing these tips and strategies, you can build a strong support system that will help you through this exciting new chapter in your life. You don't have to do it alone. Reach out, connect, and build your village.