Ideas for preschool parents to overcome obstacles and start building a strong community.
Are you a parent of a young child? Do you ever go almost an entire day without talking to another adult? Feeling connected to others and your community is important.
Strong connections with others and the community is a key component of being spiritually and mentally healthy and can actually combat depression.
This engagement with community also brings vital benefits to your child, such as stronger social skills and feelings of competence. Being a parent of a preschooler can feel isolating, and connecting with other parents of preschoolers can be a blessing for both you and your child. However, this is easier said than done.
Do any of these obstacles sound familiar:
1. Budget and time constraints. Raising a little person (or people) is time-consuming and expensive, especially in San Diego. There are often not a lot of leftover funds to spend on gatherings or community events.
2. Attention demands. It is challenging to connect with other people with a young child around. Your little one wants to talk to you, he wants you to play with him, he is hungry/thirsty, needs to go potty (insert need here….).
3. Safety/convenience issues. Places you frequented before having children may not be very child-friendly. For example, they may not have changing tables, people may want it quiet, or it may just not be safe for your little one.
4. Social media. Social media is a wonderful way to connect with people you cannot see all of the time. However, too often it can become a replacement for building community face-to-face, especially when you are tired and busy.
What do we do about this?
Rather than give up and forget about community building during the first five years of your child’s life, here are some ideas to overcome these obstacles and start connecting to your community, preschooler in tow.
1. Use social media as a connectivity springboard. Find local parent playgroups, Bible studies, and small groups that cater to families with young children.
2. Explore and enjoy your community with your child. Visit parks, playgrounds, libraries, and everything your community has to offer. You will likely run into other parents along the way and discover some child-friendly programs the community offers. For example, local farmer’s markets can be fun for both you and your child.
3. If you like entertaining, start hosting low-key gatherings in the comfort of your own home. Invite other families with young children and maybe even share the entertaining responsibilities and rotate houses.
4. Get to know the local child-friendly venues such as indoor playgrounds or gyms that offer activities for both children and adults. There are often discounts on specific days and times. Purchasing a monthly membership can also be cost effective and come with added perks.
Do you know that City Tree and First Presbyterian Church host a variety of free events and gatherings for parents and their young children? Come to Downtown Playdate every Tuesday from 10-12 for a few hours of art, music, and outdoor play! Preschool Community Social is every Friday afternoon from 3:30-5:30 on the patio playground. Or, come join us at the Friday morning Women’s Bible study at 8:30 (childcare provided). Even better, come to all three! These events are free and provide a safe place for your child to play and explore while you connect with other parents.
What do you do to feel more connected to other parents and your community in general? Do you have any suggestions for local child-friendly places to visit?
By Kelly Carroll, Preschool Director, City Tree Christian School