Otto in the hug-a-bub Organic Ring Sling c/o Fertile Mind.
My first mothers group consisted of ten to twelve mothers who had babies within a month of each other. Besides the timing of our baby's birth, we had very little in common. We met weekly and later fortnightly for over a year. I never really fitted in. I parented differently, I was on the outer of much of the conversation.
I recently spoke to a friend who said she didn't fit in with her mothers group either. Her baby often cried through the gatherings, she felt like the other mothers were judging her. Could it be that we all felt on the outer? Could it be putting a group of strangers together with a shared experience doesn't always work?
My second mothers group was even worse, I joined an existing group and after not making any personal connections I stopped going after two sessions. After the birth of my third child, I didn't seek out a mothers group. Besides Rebecca, I don't know anyone in person with an infant even close to Otto's age.
What I've found most important is to seek out like-minded parents, it doesn't matter the ages of your children. For new parents, this can be difficult. Mothers groups are worth trying but if I had my time over, I wouldn't feel the pressure to stay a part of a group that I didn't really enjoy. A good place to find like-minded parents is at playgroups, there are many playgroups with different themes, some are outdoorsy, some are crafty, some include spiritual and religious teachings and some are bilingual. I live in a city and there are 51 playgroups within a 10km radius of our home, I didn't go through them all but at least two were Montessori and one Steiner based, a few reported to do Reggio inspired activities. I loved our ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) playgroup as it had a natural parenting type vibe.
Ideas on where to find like-minded, Montessori parents in the infant stage;
- Playgroups - often run in community centers.
- Parent Toddler Classes - often within a school setting.
- Parent Education Nights on Infant Topics - also within school settings.
- Parent Workshops - such as the Montessori Childbirth and Early Parenting Preparation Workshop, these can be hard to find locally.
Once your baby is a little older, parent-toddler classes are a fantastic way to find like-minded parents and are offered at many Montessori schools. Some schools offer parent education nights on infant topics. At one stage our previous Montessori school had group sessions for new and expectant parents. How good would that be! Another idea is to invite a Montessori speaker to your existing mothers group or playgroup, it may spark an interest or discussion on topics that interest you. Some connections are made more naturally, like finding a like-minded parent at your baby swim class or yoga with babies class!
If you feel on the outer or if your mothers group isn't working out for you, you are not alone and there are other options. Search and explore different groups within your community and try online groups if you need the support. Finding like-minded parents where you can make real and meaningful connections isn't always fast or easy but it is always worth the effort.