In preparation for a class I'm teaching at the National Havurah Committee Chesapeake Retreat this coming weekend, I've been doing some research about the Millennial Generation, defined as those born between 1980 and 2000. It turns out that 21 percent of Millennials are married (half the percentage of their parents’ generation at the same ages), and 34 percent of Millennials are parents. In honor of those stats, available here, we're taking a break from dating to talk about parenting. And if you're interested in NHC, registration for this weekend is closed, but check out the NHC Summer Institute or Chesapeake 2013!
I'm expecting my first baby, and I need help! How do I meet other new parents? Where do I find Jewish programs for babies?
As a new mother myself, I'm always excited to help make this transition a little smoother for others.
When my daughter was three months old, a pregnant woman approached me on the bus to ask about the baby wrap I was wearing. Turns out, the woman lives in my neighborhood, and we ended up running into each other after she had her baby and joining the same mom's group. The point is, make connections whenever you can, draw on other parents' expertise, and go ahead and ask for advice!
In that spirit, I reached out to a couple of people to help me answer this question. (The wrap, by the way, was a Baby Bundler, similar to a Moby or a Sleepy Wrap. It doesn't matter the brand — get yourself one. It's the best way to have both hands free when you have a newborn.)
Laurel Landau is the mother of two preschool boys, and she blogs at Philababy with Fun. We connected through the "Pennsymoms" email listserv, which provides an incredible wealth of collective information. Laurel advises to "revive old dating skills" by exchanging numbers with other parents and setting up playdates. She shares the following:
"Babies are everywhere you go, although you may not have noticed the large number of strollers around until it's relevant! Take advantage of the infant's portability and go out for coffee, for dinner, to museums, to services! Believe it or not, in some ways, it won't get easier than this!
"In the Philadelphia community we are so lucky to have a wealth of resources at our fingertips. One of my favorites is the free breast-feeding support group at Hall-Mercer, which meets on Mondays at 12:30-2:00 PM. That invaluable group provides practical advice and often forms the beginnings of great friendships. Likewise, the Child and Parent Center at Hall-Mercer provides the popular facilitated discussions/playgroups for new parents. Signing up for The Music Class, is a great way to get into a routine, entertain even an infant, and make friends. Society Hill Synagogue has a Baby & Me group, which meets monthly for families with babies under 2 years. Most branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia have story hours, often for the youngest set. One of the best parts of the parenting adventure is that nobody is in it alone. Learning the ropes of parenting is much more pleasant when you can share your experiences with your peers!"
I also reached out to Susan Lisman, another new mom and the program director focusing on Family Engagement for the Jewish Learning Venture. Here's what she says:
"The programs offered by Jewish Learning Venture’s family engagement initiative, jkidphilly, create wonderful opportunities to meet other families raising Jewish children throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Jkidphilly is made up of several programs including the PJ Library, New Beginnings (expectant families), Our Jewish Home (in-home Jewish Learning) and Making Connections (public space programming). We strive to create fun and social Jewish programs that allow families to socialize and engage with one another. Check out our group on meetup.com (jkidphilly: Jewish Families of Greater Philadelphia) for continually updated programs in your area (Bucks County, Bux-Mont, Center City, Chester County, Delaware County, Lower Merion and Old York Road). Be sure to check out jkidphilly.org for a listing of family-friendly Jewish events and for a directory of jkidphilly Family Engagement professionals who would welcome the opportunity to speak with you. You can also call the jkidphilly hotline 215-320-0398 for immediate assistance. All of our programs are free, open to the public and perfect for families just like yours!"
Thanks to Laurel and Susan for contributing to this week's post! Wishing you a lot of luck with the new baby, and b'sha'ah tova (the Hebrew wish for an expecting mother, roughly translated as "all in good time").