Just before my first child was born my husband and I moved from New England to the Midwest. We were young, newly married, and knew no one in our new hometown. All of our friends and family were thousands of miles away and we had a baby coming in a mere three months.
My husband’s new colleagues provided our first group of social connections. To make new friends, we were intentional about attending church regularly. But it was the Welcome Wagon that really helped us build deep and lasting friendships. They came with a list of ways to get connected.
Through them, I joined a Moms group (which included a babysitting co-op), we joined a card club and an International Dining group (potluck, a different country’s cuisine each month), and I started attending monthly La Leche League meetings, where I joined other new mothers for regular support after the baby was born.
All of these avenues of connection helped us build strong social connections and gave us a support system at a time when our old support network was very far away. Our new friends could reassure us when we felt overwhelmed as new parents. They offered advice, entertainment, and babysitting. They helped us feel welcome and cared for in our new community.
Social connections are one of the five protective factors for strong families. (You can see the other four here.) Friends can lend support when we are overwhelmed or just need a different perspective. Others who are facing similar challenges can provide a listening ear or childcare assistance while you run to the doctor. When you have emotionally supportive friends, life gets easier – for you and for your children.
Here are some options for making connections with other parents in and around Corvallis:
HOME group. Meets at Northwest Hills Community Church, Tuesdays from 9:15 – 11:15 during the school year. For moms with children 5 yrs and under. Childcare is provided while moms gather for fellowship and learning. Emphasis is on equipping moms through gifted speakers, hands-on activities, and building a community of support through friendship. https://www.helpingourmoms.com/
Osborn Aquatic Center. Sign up the kiddos for swim lessons! Parents participate in class with their youngest swimmers. But as the children progress to independent lessons, parents watch from the bleachers – where they can visit with like-minded parents.
Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. Activities for children and adults alike offer opportunities for parents to connect with other parents through shared activity. In addition to the usual story hours and children’s reading clubs, the library also offers events just for adults. Looking for something to do without the kids? Check out https://cbcpubliclibrary.net/events/adult-events/
Parenting Classes. Check out The Incredible Years, for parents of preschoolers, or Make Parenting a Pleasure for those with older children. Learn some new communication strategies and meet new friends in the process. Many classes are free, with dinner and childcare provided. Details can be found here: http://www.parentingsuccessnetwork.org/parenting-programs/
Mid-Willamette YMCA. Offers programs for children and adults, such as their monthly Lunch and Learn, which is an opportunity to listen to a speaker while enjoying lunch with other attendees.
Community Events. Corvallis has a long tradition of holding family-friendly community events – like Benton County Fair in August, Fall Festival in September, and Downtown trick-or-treat in late October. For more, visit: https://www.visitcorvallis.com/festivals-events
Other ways to make social connections:
Volunteer – in your children’s school, through a faith-based organization, or with an organization whose mission you support. Watch for invitations to volunteer on social media, or reach out to an organization directly.
Join a Group – find a group of other adults doing something you love (biking, hiking, reading, knitting). Attend their regular meetings and build friendships around your common interest. During the summer months parents in Corvallis hold regular meet-ups at community parks. The kids spend time together while the parents visit with each other.
Reach out – to your family and your friends. Plan get-togethers, invite them over for coffee or a meal. Be intentional about building strong relationships with those you already know.
Strengthening your relationships outside your family can provide concrete support when you need it most and will strengthen your family at the same time.