Some groups last as long as their children going to secondary school or Uni.
The mothers (or dads) group can really keep you hanging on in there.
In OZ the mothers group is often seen as a rite of passage. New mums get excited about attending them and they’re at most Early Childhood Health Centres. When I left England in 2001 us Health Visitors weren’t running them (in Salford) but we did well baby clinics at the GP’s and every new parent got a lot of home visits. Most of mine got a luxurious weekly visit for at least 6 weeks. I know that made a big difference. So it’s been really interesting for me experiencing both models of care.
Our groups are run on a family partnership model and are called Earlybird Groups. In these groups everyone gets a chance to speak/comment if they wish and we reflect issues/thoughts back to the group. Sometimes this works well but sometimes it can feel frustrating for a new parent as they’re looking for an answer from the nurse.
This week I was asked to speak at two parents groups, which I was honoured to do. That’s what got me thinking about them. I saw real friendship and support. They’re informal and a chance to say what you really think. Groups need honesty and it’s never more important than when you have a new baby. We soon discover, that, while parenting can be rewarding it can also be challenging. They're an important antidote to the magazine lifestyle of motherhood/parenting, that is so often portrayed in the media, as it doesn’t do much to our confidence as parents.
As a nurse and midwife I get to hear in consults, with new parents, how it really is – warts and all. I wish sometimes this could be talked about more. It would make us all feel better.
One of the groups I went to was a playgroup at Clovelly with babies 6 months plus to toddler age. These are run by parents and Playgroups New South Wales can help you set one up, if you’re interested. They have diverse cultural playgroups as well so if you want your child exposed to a second language, most can be accommodated e.g. French, German, Thai, Russian etc. On Monday we talked about top tips for toddlers and how to get the best out of them. It was really enjoyable. We talked about behaviour, sleep, food and toilet training or should I say learning. Just a different way to look at it! I’ll talk about that in another blog.
The second group I went to was an informal mothers group at Bondi Beach. It was a scorching hot day of 26C and we met in a lovely shaded area and talked about moving your baby onto solid food and baby led weaning.
I still pinch myself that a Health Visitor from Salford is going to Bondi Beach to do a talk/discussion with a mothers group. Not that there was anything wrong with Salford but I see a lot more sun in Bondi!
So where do you DO your mothers/fathers group and WHAT do you do in them?
I'd like replies from all over the world please? From very small villages/communities to the cities and metropolis. Include photos if you like.
I’d love to hear from parents all over the world!
And are there any all dads groups? The Clovelly group had one dad but we don't have many dads attending.