Now that you have had your baby and are settling into a routine, you may want to join a parents' group. If you are a little hesitant to join one, just give it a go—you might be surprised by what you get out of it.
The main benefit of a parents' group is that they give parents feeling overwhelmed and isolated a forum to talk to other parents who are experiencing the same things.
You can share your experiences, concerns, triumphs and disasters—or just have a good laugh together!
By going to a parents' group you'll be able to:
- get an instant support network
- learn from each other (very useful for first-time mums and dads)
- get a break from home life and avoid isolation
- find new friends for you and your child (especially if you are new to the area)
- gain exposure to different ways of parenting
- find out about child care and the best options for your child.
You may also find that parents' groups are a good source of finding cheap (or free) babysitters—after all, everyone needs a break at some point.
Watch a video on the benefits of parents' groups.
Finding a group
Before your child is born
If you attend prenatal classes, you may be able to find a parents' group there. Talk to the leader of the class to see if your hospital or birth centre is helping to organise a parents' group.
If you get along with other people in your class, you might like to organise one among yourselves—all it takes is an exchange of contact details.
After your child is born
When you have your post-birth check-up at a community health centre or baby clinic (6-8 weeks after birth), a child health nurse will be able to suggest a parents' group you can join.
The clinic may help organise the first couple of meetings, but then will leave it up to the participants to organise them.
They will also be able to suggest any specialist parents' groups that you may want to join (such as one for parents of premature babies).
Finding a parents group
The best tip for finding a parents' group is to be proactive—a parents' group won't find you, you’ll have to find it.
Your first step should be to ask other parents you know. They might be able to recommend one or be able to ask their friends if they know of any.
To find a parents' group, you can also:
- search popular baby and parenting websites and forums
- use Facebook or other social media channels
- contact the hospital where you gave birth
- ask your local child care centre
- check with your local council, community centres and religious organisations
- check at your local library
- talk to your doctor or midwife.
Joining a playgroup is another option. Playgroups provide an opportunity for you to mix with other parents while your child has a great time playing and learning.
Or why not start your own parents' group?
Forums on popular parenting and baby websites are a good place to start, as is Facebook and other forms of social media. Do some research and be creative—you may be able to form your perfect parents' group.
Exercise classes for parents and babies
Finding exercise classes involves similar techniques to finding a parents' group, so follow the tips above.
Many local councils offer programs for new parents and their babies, or general exercise activities where you can bring your baby along—for example, the exercise classes offered by Brisbane City Council.
Heart Foundation Walking has some walking groups designed for parents with prams – find the one nearest to you.
You can also search online for private classes offered in your local area.
Read about postnatal exercise for mothers, including when to start and the benefits of doing it.
Keeping your child active
Keeping babies and young children active and healthy is very important. Get some ideas to keep your baby or toddler active.