Need a break from the Goo Goo Ga Ga?

Although there are a lot of children in New Westminster, it can be hard for new parents and newcomers to our city to meet other parents and establish a network for social interaction and support. During the summer it’s not so hard – just head out to your local park, the Queens Park spray parkRead More

Although there are a lot of children in New Westminster, it can be hard for new parents and newcomers to our city to meet other parents and establish a network for social interaction and support. During the summer it’s not so hard – just head out to your local park, the Queens Park spray park or Grimston Park wading pool and you’ll find a ton of parents with their kids.

During the cold, wet winter months, it’s more complicated. While there are a number of well-established local parenting groups, a lot of information isn’t yet online, and most of our groups are not affiliated with well-known national programs. When Googling for information La Leche League, for example, parents have to turn to neighbouring municipalities because there is no representation in New West. 

Some local parents are stepping up to create the parenting communities they seek. Jen from The Arbolog, for example, has created a new Facebook group for parents in New Westminster to “swap, buy, sell, give away, chit chat, and compare notes.”

As Jen wrote in an email to me today:

“The sad thing is there are hardly any parent type resources. I learned the closest La Leche League is deep dark Poco or into Vancouver, so other than the Family Place and the Mom’s morning thing at Olivet Baptist I haven’t found hardly any! I also look at www.yoyomama.ca a lot. Even though its sort of Vancouver-centric they do list NW a lot.”

After our son Wesley was born, I attended the Public Health-sponsored Baby Talk program at Centennial Community Centre (Wednesdays, 1-3pm), for instance. The program is geared towards new parents (though it is mostly moms), and includes a speaker on a parenting-related topic and social time for parents and babies. I didn’t meet a kindred spirit through the program, but it was great to check in with the public health nurses, weigh my baby and just plain get out of the house.

It was through Baby Talk that I learned West Coast College of Massage Therapy occasionally has free baby massage classes for parents. I can’t find any information about it online, but if it interests you, give them a call and ask if/when they’ll be offering it again. When I went, it was loads of fun. I’ve never seen so many babies in one room!

I also attended Olivet’s Mom’s Daybreak group a few times. I had a good time, and they have the HUGE bonus of providing free childcare for the duration. Unlike most other groups, the point is not for you to socialize your child, but rather to get a break and have some adult conversation! Olivet’s group also has speakers and craft sessions to keep things interesting. They are not especially ‘churchy’, although when I attended they did include a short Bible story session. Despite this, I felt no obligation to attend the church or even be a Christian to participate.

The Family Services of Greater Vancouver site lists a bunch of parenting resources for our community. There are drop-in programs in pretty much every community centre for parents of kids under the age of six, plus some interesting specialized programs. Running quickly through the list, a lot of programs seem to be targeted at Aboriginal parents, and also single parents and teen parents.

Some programs that I haven’t experienced personally, but which sound interesting are:

 As I was doing some research for this post, I came across the Tiny Tots Coupon Book again, which is like an Entertainment Book for parents of young children. Little did I know – the ladies behind the Tiny Tots book are based right here in New Westminster! You can buy the Tiny Tots Coupon Book at Dimpleskins and Pedagogy Toys in Sapperton.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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4 comments

  1. People interested in making contact with the home learning community could check out their calendar at http://www.homelearners.ca — It’s for the Lower Mainland, but there’s bound to be something local.

    Homelearners also have an event at the Sapperton Pensioners Hall called “Hula Hoot” with is an activity day every other Fridays: 11:30 to 3:30. Looks like there’s still one date left: Dec. 5. There is some sort of charge.

    Check out http://snurl.com/6k5z0 [www_homelearners_ca] for the skinny.

  2. Oh, Bree, I have one of those Family Book coupon books. If you want any of the coupons, you are welcome to them. Especially any of hte ones for older munchkins – I’ve used a lot of the newborn ones but there are lots left and you are welcome to pick through.

  3. For the preschool set, parks and rec programs are a great place to get connected with parents of children the same age as your own, just google "New Westminster Parks and Recreation."Also, parent participation preschools are a great way to get connected with other families in the area. We were involved with Queen's Park PPP and it has resulted in many lasting friendships for both our children and ourselves. Their website is http://www.qpps.ca.

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