Our children grow up way too quickly. They may have just started preschool or kindergarten this year, but before you know it, the years will whizz by and then they'll be learning how to drive and go shopping for their own car! Scary thought, hey?
Being a stay at home parent/carer (especially during your children's early years before they start big school) is, therefore, I believe, a wonderfully rewarding experience because you get to spend this precious time with your little ones.
However, it can also be a very lonely experience. After watching too many episodes of Peppa Pig and Playschool or spending too much time refereeing between screaming siblings or wiping food off the walls or stepping on too many Lego pieces, etc, you will reach a point where you will be craving the company of other adults. It's nice to have other parents/carers as friends you can catch up with during the week and share your tales of joy and woe with. It's nice to have adult conversations every once in a while.
So if you're a stay at home mum, dad, or grandparent, if you find yourself all alone in Canberra looking after children without the support of your own parents and extended family, if you never joined a Mothers' Group or all the members of your Mother's Group have gone back to work, if you've just moved to Canberra...then here are five ways you can meet other grown-ups and hopefully, become friends.
1. Join a playgroup or two. A playgroup is an informal session where parents, carers, babies and children aged birth to school age come together in a relaxed and friendly environment. A playgroup is a wonderful space for your child to have fun, meet new friends and learn new skills through informal play. It's also a great chance for you to meet other parents and carers. Playgroups usually meet weekly and are held at various venues such as church halls, schools, and community and neighbourhood centres. There are dozens of playgroups all over Canberra, including special interest playgroups such as language playgroups, intergenerational playgroups (which usually meet inside an aged care facility), dads' playgroups, and grandparents' playgroups. There are also the larger Paint N Play groups which mostly meet outdoors and are open to the wider community. To find a playgroup near you or one that suits you, visit the ACT Playgroups Association website here.
2. Enrol your children in a preschool class or program and meet other parents/carers. Canberra is a wonderfully child-friendly city, with plenty of weekly and regular classes, programs, and activities for your little ones such as swimming lessons, dance schools, gymnastics classes, playschools and special toddler and preschool programs hosted by our national institutions. I've made many of my parent/carer friends through the many different classes and programs my son has been involved in. To find a class or program that will interest your children and for you to meet other parents/carers, go here.
3. Find your friends via Canberra Meetup. Canberra can be a tough place to make friends. But this is where Meetup can help you. Created in the United States in 2002, Meetup is an online social networking site that brings people together in thousands of cities around the world. Meetup is made up of groups or 'meetups' which people create for many reasons, whether personal or professional. A meetup is created online via the Meetup website. But the interaction between members happens offline, face to face, in the real world. There are many meetups in Canberra to choose from. You can join one or two or several, depending on your interests. Canberra meetups include Best of Canberra group, Canberra Young Women, Camping Canberra, Canberra Street Soccer, Canberra Dog Walks meetup, the Canberra Korean Language and Culture meetup, Life Begins at 40, The Movie Group, Canberra Foodies Group, Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing, Canberra Twentysomethings, Canberra Vegan meetup, and Write Together Canberra. You could also start your own meetup! To find out more, go here.
4. Meet other parents/carers via a local church or another place of worship. If you attend a church or other place of worship, chances are that there are plenty of other families there as well. So why not join a social or family group or playgroup, etc that's run by your place of worship where you can meet other families? For example, St John's Anglican Church in Reid holds a weekly playgroup, mum's bible study and preschool music class for parents/carers and their children. And St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Forrest has a weekly Ladies and Babies bible study group on Wednesday mornings as well as a Messy Church for families every month. For more information on finding a church community in Canberra, go here.
5. Meet other parents/carers via spontaneous or chance encounters.
If you go to a playground or park, your local library, café or the play area in your local shopping centre, you're bound to see other parents/carers with their children. If you go for a walk or bike ride around your neighbourhood, you'll very likely meet other parents/carers too. And your neighbours may have children the same ages as yours. So if possible, why not strike up a conversation with them? There's a chance they may not become your forever friends, but there's also a chance that they might.