When you attend your first PEPS meeting, I think it’s natural to come in with a bit of anxiety – not sure what to expect and not sure who you will meet. You try your best to “come as you are” but at the same time, trying to impress…a little. Do you measure up to the other parents? Will they question your choices? Will you have anything in common with anyone? What exactly did you get yourself into for 12 weeks?
As I reflect on the conclusion of the most recent daytime newborn group I led, I recount similarities between my past groups. In meeting nearly 100 new moms over the course of volunteering with PEPS, I have to say there is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing the transformation they experience from nervous to confident after 12 weeks. I’ve learned that PEPS proves beneficial – regardless of who is in the group, how big it is, or where people live.
I was leery about joining PEPS and it ended up being such a great experience for me.” – Brittany, newborn daytime group member
Consider this: you’re put together with 8-10 parents – most of whom you wouldn’t naturally be friends with apart from the group. You have one thing in common – needing to figure out this parenthood thing with kids of similar age. Maybe there won’t be someone who you click with, but maybe there will!
You may meet another parent who:
- shares your parenting philosophy, and someone who contradicts it.
- is close to your age, and another who isn’t.
- had the same fertility struggles, someone with none, and someone who has adopted their baby.
- struggles to breastfeed, someone who makes it look easy, and someone who bottle feeds.
- has a similar home life, and another with a different lifestyle.
- has a fancy house, and someone with a small apartment.
- is outgoing and plans events, and someone who sits back and observes.
- has a similar culture or religion, and someone who doesn’t.
- is headed back to work, and someone choosing to stay home.
- knows about every baby gear item and all the current research about every topic, and others who are eager to learn.
I have never in my experience found anyone in a PEPS group to be judgmental or not willing to see someone else’s point of view. As a result, a diverse group of people come together towards a common goal who come out the other end with a support network many say they couldn’t have done without. In south Snohomish county and other expanding PEPS areas, parents tend to be spread out geographically compared to Seattle based groups. This creates a little challenge in that travel distance increases and going for spur of the moment neighborhood walks together becomes something you must organize a little more, but it’s still workable.
I think the goal of every leader is to foster a group environment that breeds connection, and that the group gels. Sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes it never quite does. However, whether members come out with a new BFF or not, having 12 weeks of support during the transition to parenthood is worth is weight in gold. This note from a group member in a reply to my “last meeting” email says it all:
“I was leery about joining PEPS and it ended up being such a great experience for me.” – Brittany, newborn daytime group member
If you’re contemplating joining a PEPS group, please go for it! I don’t think you’ll regret it.
About the Author
Jen Winckler is a Newborn PEPS leader in Snohomish County. She is a stay at home mom (aka. Volunteeraholic) to two boys, ages 12 and 10, and is still trying to navigate the constant curve balls that parenting dishes out. She used to dread the minivan driving soccer mom title, but has come to love watching her boys play their hearts out (and did sell the minivan as soon as they could open their own doors without banging the car in the next stall).