It takes a village to raise a child, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for parents with newborns to build that village. Quarantine rules and social distancing are far from ideal when it comes to meeting up with others for that much-needed support.
Now more than ever, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Building relationships with other new parents is a constructive way to get helpful advice and learn from shared experiences. You might need to go a little further out of your way to develop those initial connections right now, but fortunately we have technology to make life easier on all of us.
Make the most of social media
Facebook makes it easy to search for other parents in your community. Use keywords based on your interests and filter your search by location to find socially-distanced family-friendly group activities, virtual events and outdoor meet-ups.
Use hashtags to find other families
Instagram and Twitter can help you find new parents in your neighbourhood by using hashtags as searchable topics of conversation, giving you the opportunity to become part of the discussions happening online. It’s a great way to find others looking to share parenting advice, ask questions and talk about similar interests.
Join groups and conversations online
Once you’ve found a group that sounds right for you, you may have to request to join. After you’ve been accepted, it’s important to introduce yourself with a friendly post and get involved in the conversations happening on a regular basis. The more time you invest, the more you’ll benefit and the faster your friendships will grow.
Organize your own group
If you can’t find the right fit, why not start your own Facebook group? Maybe you're a well-travelled dad who’s a foodie that loves to cook. Organize an online group with other dads in your area to share recipe ideas and consider having group members take virtual cooking classes together to learn new dishes. It’s easy to set up a group
Try apps meant for connecting new parents
Take advantage of the many free apps designed to help new parents build their social networks. The Peanut
app in particular has been getting a lot of buzz lately. Whether you’re looking to meet new people in your area, ask questions or offer advice, this baby app connects you to other new moms that share your goals and interests. It also gives you the option to chat to see if you hit it off before you commit to any socially-distanced playdates. While there are many tools geared towards moms, dads deserve the same opportunities to build their social networks. Fortunately, more childcare groups and apps are popping up for men who have similar interests, like Dad Central
It’s never too soon to start making new connections. What was once a hope of a COVID-19 vaccine is now a reality. Many social aspects of our lives before the pandemic should be able to resume at some point, maybe even this year! Things may not look exactly the way they did before, but there’s a good chance we’ll all be able to enjoy in-person playdates and physical meet-ups once again. Making virtual connections with new parents in your neighbourhood now will set you up for successful relationships you can build on in the not-too-distant future.