It’s fair to say that a lot happened to me in the year that I turned 40. I got married, bought and moved into a house in the suburbs (on the opposite side of the city from where I was living) and had my first baby! On the day I left work to commence my maternity leave, my team presented me with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for everything that I had managed to squeeze into those 12months!
As an older first time mum, my network of ‘mum’ friends was pretty much non-existent. My high school friends had already had their kids a decade ago, and my work friends were ‘career’ types and not ready to for families yet.
Like so many new parents, my husband and I were shell-shocked with the amount of work and lack of sleep and questions about ‘is this normal?!’ that our little girl bought with her. So when it was time to meet up with my Maternal Health Nurse ‘New Parents Group’, I was more than ready and excited to meet other mums and share our experiences. I had romantic notions of making a new set of ‘friends for life’ that you often hear people talk about, still catching up with Mothers Group friends after 20-30 years.
Now, as you might know, New Parent Groups are simply made up of other families who ‘by chance’ had a baby at roughly the same time you did and live in the same postcode. So it’s true to say that not all groups will stay together and ‘mesh tightly’ after the compulsory classes with the nurse are over. Sadly, our group of mums never progressed to regular catch ups after the classes were finished – in spite of my best efforts!
My first 12 months of parenting were stressful and lonely and placed new pressures on our relationship as we navigated our way through. After Freya turned one, I decided ‘enough was enough’ and started looking for a playgroup to join in our local area. It was here that I met Kate Docking and a group of fabulous local mums and bubs and instantly struck up a connection and network that I had been looking for.
It was through our playgroup that Kate introduced me to Dads Group Inc, where I now spend time volunteering to support and participate in local DGI events. I will share more about local DGI events in my next update. DGI is about helping connect dads in local communities so they can share their experiences, make new friends and enjoy healthy and happier family time. Something that has been missing from the community support networks.
So how does it work? Dads groups are essentially supported by local community partners in their region, such as a Rotary club. The community partner then hosts a free event for the new fathers and helps them establish their own ‘Dads Group’ or join an existing ‘Dads Group’. Events are then held periodically (monthly/quarterly) which encourage fathers and their kids to get together for a free BBQ and social gathering which are organised by the chosen community partner.
The ‘Dads Group Portal’ also connects all of the relevant family and community health organisations in one place, to give fathers easy access to programs, information and support in their local area. Simple access to a ‘onestop shop for dads’ is such a valuable tool, as we found out the hard way. It’s a real minefield out there when looking for ‘father oriented’ support tools, but more on that later.
So if you are interested in becoming a local community partner, or joining a Dads Group local to you – please get in touch with us here to discuss.
How did you go about getting your support network up and running? Let me know in the comments field below.
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