A Guest Post: Finding Your Tribe

Hi Everyone! I’m Monica from Triangle Area Parenting Support. I’m delighted to be guest blogging at Platinum sitters today! It’s amazing to share space with this great company knowing that together we are all working toward strengthening families from the inside out.

When I had my first baby I literally couldn’t believe that they just let me leave the hospital with this sweet tiny fragile child. I had no idea what I was doing as a new mom and no one handed me an instruction manual. We had done a lot of preparation for birth, but did nothing to prepare for our new roles at parents.

Regardless of how you got to where you are, every new parent needs the kind of support that can only come through empathetic friendship. You need a group of folks – other moms, other families, other dads – that know EXACTLY what you’re going through because they are also going through it.

Raise your hand if you could use a hand.

New moms and dads face a huge identity change. We must climb to our new roles while also grappling with unmet birth experience expectations, deep sleep deprivation, life-or-death feeding choices (we believe that fed and rested are the best options!), sleep choices, attachment choices, and possibly postpartum mood and anxiety disorder issues.

As a new parent, I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. When the freezer meals were gone. When my partner returned to work. I found myself alone — with a crying baby — wondering — What am I supposed to do?

I was that mom eight years ago. I lived thousands of miles away from my parents and long term friends. We literally only knew 4 families in the whole city when I gave birth to my daughter. But this wasn’t a question that my OB or nurses ever raised. They never asked, “How are you getting help now that you have a new baby at home?” Luckily, one of my only friends in the city had also just had her first baby and encouraged me to join a new parent support group. This was the BEST. DECISION. EVER.

We joined a Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS) group about 3 weeks after my daughter was born. This group became a source of community, consolation, encouragement, and help in times when we needed it. It was such a vital part of my own new parent transition that when we had the opportunity to move back to North Carolina, we brought the program with us and the response has been tremendous.

We are so privileged to be able to connect new parents in these intimate community-based groups all around the Triangle. Since 2016, TAPS has served over 200 families by creating and facilitating community based peer support groups.

What’s a group like?

TAPS Groups meet weekly for a 10-week period. Each group has a dedicated TAPS Group Leader who facilitates discussion and provides local resources for group members during the 10 weeks.

The weekly meeting includes a sharing time, a developmental activity, and a discussion of a relevant parenting topic. Topics may include feeding, sleeping, emotional challenges, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, balancing work and family, and more. Every group experience is also unique because each group chooses five topics from a list of 40+ parenting discussion topics.

Most groups have between 6 – 9 families in them and TAPS group leaders encourage group members to get together outside of the group’s scheduled meeting time. Many groups plan group date nights, mom’s night out, birthday parties, family picnics, and many more activities depending on their groups’ desires!

By the end of the 10 weeks, our goal is that you will find community, receive support, and be empowered as you journey into parenthood!

It’s been a pleasure sharing my story with everyone! If you are pregnant or just added a new little one to your family, we would love to help you build your parenting village.

With Gratitude,

Monica Richardson

Triangle Area Parenting Support