Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Getting Connected

It doesn’t feel like November today, at least not here where I sit typing, facing my kitchen windows. Unseasonably warm and gloriously sunny, this is a rare gem of a November day. The kind of day that would be perfect for an afternoon walk with my daughter, or even to spend some time playing with bubbles in the backyard. The kind of November day that will soon just be a sunny memory, as the rain and the clouds and the dreariness roll in.

Backyard Bubbles in November

No, November is not my favourite month of the year. It’s not as bad as January and February – at least there is Christmas to look forward to – but it’s no match for the lovely months, like April and July. November means rain, cold, and early nightfall. It means more time spent indoors, and less opportunities for spontaneous outdoor fun. And that it why November is one of those months when I am SO grateful for all of the wonderful community activities that my daughter and I are involved in.
We have a pretty busy social calendar, my sweet little munchkin and I. Five mornings per week we pack up and head out the door, to one of the many wonderful drop-in playgroups or parent and tot classes that are available to us to attend. On any given day, there are multiple fun events that we have to choose from. But being connected in our community wasn’t always that easy.
When my daughter was about four months old, I began to slowly emerge from my sleep-deprived, mommy-of-a-newborn stupor and excitedly began looking for classes and playgroups to attend. For nearly a decade, connecting new parents with community resources was part of my job description. And yet when I tried to find activities to attend myself, the hunt was far more difficult than I ever anticipated it could be. Had I not believed so passionately in the importance of connecting in the community, I may very well have given up. It was a frustrating, discouraging affair. But I soldiered on, gradually discovering more and more resources, and finding a rich array of opportunities for our family to learn and play together.

Dancing with Delight at our Favourite Playgroup

I am passionate in my belief that connecting with community resources is one of the most important tools you can have in your mommy tool kit. It will benefit you, and it will benefit your little one. Whether you are home full time, working full time, or some combination of the two, community activities are a wonderful opportunity to connect with other parents and have fun learning together with your child. And the resources in your community are likely far richer than you know. It will take work to discover the best opportunities. But here are some tips to help you along the way…

Tips for Getting Connected in Your Community
1.   Call or visit your public health unit. They often compile a list of resources for new parents – a great place to start. Just don’t assume that this list – or any other – is an exhaustive one.
2.   Ask every parent you know what groups they attend or have attended with their children.
3.   Check out your local community centre for listings of upcoming classes.
4.   Visit your local library.  Many libraries offer programs for children and families free of charge. And most also have brochures available with listings of other community programs.
5.   Check your local newspaper and attend family-friendly community events. These events can be a lot of fun for the whole family, and as a bonus you may find information booths promoting other community programs.
6.   Look online, but don’t assume you’ll find everything that’s out there, or that online listings are current. If you discover something that looks promising, follow up first before attempting to attend (a lesson learned the hard way!).
7.  Get out and try things! Not every program will be a good fit for your family. But the only way you’ll know is to try. The more you get out there and try things, the more parents you’ll meet and the more resources you’ll discover.
8.  Keep hunting! No matter how long you’ve been searching, there are likely some gems out there that you still don’t know about. Keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t forget to ask new parents you meet.

Helpful Hint: Here’s a secret that’s worth knowing! Many community centres offer “partnership classes” – classes offered at the community centre in conjunction with another organization, such as a music or dance school. These classes are often the same as ones offered through the other organization, but at the community centre rate – great value for your money!

And One More Helpful Hint: Never assume that the cost of a class has anything to do with the quality. The vast majority of the groups and classes that we attend are absolutely FREE, and I find them to be of a higher quality than many of the most expensive programs.


  1. Hi! Stopping by from MBC.Great blog.
    Have a nice day!

  2. Thanks for the great tips! We just moved and know NO ONE in our neighborhood. I'm going to start looking and calling around tomorrow!

    Also thanks for stopping by on Mom Bloggers Club. I'm a new follower and PLEASE come by and join us at Our Crazy Days Called Life. :)

    www.ourcrazydayscalledlife.blogspot.com Thanks!

  3. You don't happen to live in Houston, do you? I swear you're describing our weather! The only difference is that I LOVE November! I've enjoyed looking around your blog--you have lots of great ideas! I'm your newest follower--I saw you on MBC.


  4. Passing by from MBC, cute baby and cute blog. : ) Would love for you to visit back at http://www.momstreehouse.com/. Hope to see ya there

  5. Thanks for the great tips. I'm pretty new to our neighborhood and I think these tips will help me meet some new mommy friends!

    I'm a new follower from MBC under 200 group. I would love for you to follow back Tips for Saving


    Thanks and keep in touch!

  6. Great Tips you have here!!!!

    Im your newest follower from MBC.. Id love if you could follow back, come by if you get a chance.. http://beachbabys.blogspot.com/

  7. Hi, I'm following you from MBC. I'm hosting a Totally Tuesday Blog Hop today on Busy Mom's Tips if you would like to stop by and link up.

    Blogging Hints
    Busy Mom's Tips
    Work at Home Helper

  8. Hi again!

    I'd like to give you the Stylish Blogger Award!! Check out my blog (www.jollyjansen.blogspot.com) for all the details! Have a great week!