Life changes significantly when we have children, and it’s not uncommon for parents (especially those with newborns and infants) to feel social isolation. Between feedings, swaddling, and diaper changes to the busy toddler years of potty training, tower building, and imaginative play, weeks to months can fly by without us parents interacting with another adult.
It’s easy to dismiss your own needs when you are a parent. But having a social network and other parent friends to connect with is vital to your own well-being. Studies show that parents with support systems in place are at reduced risk for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Research has identified social connections as a core protective factor for strong families.
The importance of interconnectedness
Parenting comes with its unique set of challenges: Every child is different; some are easy babies, while others need a lot of soothing. Then, of course, there’s the toddler who is the world’s pickiest eater, or the 8-year old who refuses bedtime—and all the while we question whether these things are “normal” or if we are parenting the “right way.”
Having other parents to share your stories with and ask questions of, goes a long way in filling our need as parents to feel understood and supported. It’s comforting to know that you are not alone in your parenting struggles.
Find the support you need
Lane County is full of programs and opportunities designed to bring parents together for support and socialization. Here are some places to get started:
- Baby Connection: Weekly drop-in program on Wednesdays from 11 am to 12 pm for infant feeding support, baby weigh ins, and more at Parenting Now. Also offered virtually over Zoom for families in Lane County.
- Daisy C.H.A.I.N.: Free lactation/feeding support. Baby Pop Music classes for families with children ages newborn to 5.
- Family Resource Centers: There are Family Resource Centers scattered throughout Lane County that host events for families, as well as provide access to resources that families can use.
- Healthy Families Lane County: Free home visiting program for families with newborns up to 3 years old. Helps connect families with local resources, offers age-appropriate play ideas for your child, and provides updates on your child’s developmental stage.
- Parenting Now: Parenting Now offers parenting groups and support for families of young children in Lane County, Oregon, including parenting groups that meet weekly, as well as drop-in programs such as Baby Connection.
- WellMama: Maternal mental health support services; support groups offered throughout the week and month, including “Infant & Toddler Parenting Support,” “New Parent Support,” “Late Night Postpartum Support,” “Playdate and Parent Support Group,” and more.
Locally, you can also connect with other parents during storytime at your local public library; on Facebook groups such as, The Coolest Mamas in Eugene, MOM Eugene, and Eugene Springfield Moms. Hike It Baby Eugene also meets regularly for walks throughout Lane County, and Wander Kids Eugene also hosts regular playdates for families.
For a full list of local resources, visit https://resources.parentingnow.org/
As they say, it takes a village to parent. Never feels ashamed or scared to reach out for support.