For some new parents, it might be a yoga class, for others a play group or maybe a local café for a cup of tea. Wherever “it” is for you, that place where you find a connection to other new parents can be as important to your well-being as love is to your baby’s. Here are a few places where you can meet other new parents.

Recreation/Community Centres
Most centres offer free or nominally priced programs for new parents. Parent & Tot Drop-In (Burnside Gorge Community Centre 250-388-5251, Pearkes Recreation Centre 250-475-5400, Saanich Neighbourhood Place 250-360-1148, Military Family Resource Centre 250-363-2640); Mother Goose (Burnside Gorge, Fernwood); Dad’s Drop-In (Saanich Neighbourhood Place) are just some of the programs listed in spring leisure guides.

Exercise Classes
Whatever your preferred method of exercise, chances are you’ll be able to find a class that’s geared toward new parents. From pre- and post-natal yoga classes (Helga Beer, 250-370-0464, Iyengar Yoga Centre, 250-386-9642, Mothering Touch Centre, 250-595-4905, Moksana Yoga, 250-385-2105), to Parent & Tot swimming at your recreation centre, drop-in Yoga, Stretch & Dance with Babies and Toddlers at Mothering Touch (250-595-4905), baby-friendly boot camp at Life Force Systems (250-380-6947), and Frontrunner’s Running Moms conditioning program for parents with children in strollers (250-382-8181), these classes will help you get in shape and meet other parents.

Libraries
The Greater Victoria Public Library offers programs for babies and toddlers and their adults. Programs are free and drop-in. At Baby Time (for babies 0-15 months and caregiver) you’ll learn songs, rhymes, and fingerplays to use with your baby. At Toddler Time (for toddlers 16-35 months and caregiver) you’ll hear stories, songs and rhymes, and see puppets. For children under 3 and their adults, try a Family Storytime. For more info, visit web link or phone your local branch. For library programs in other Island communities, check the Vancouver Island Regional Library website at virl.bc.ca.

Parks/Playgrounds
With flowers blooming and temperatures getting warmer, May is a beautiful month to be outside, so load up your baby or young child and stroll on down to the park. Try joining Saanich Park’s free Preschoolers in the Park program (www.saanich.ca/parkrec/parks/parks/free.html) on Friday mornings from 10-11:30am for playground time, circle time, and a guided nature/urban walk in neighbourhood parks.
Or take part in the Nature Play Group (for ages 1-5) where kids can engage in free play in a natural setting—both at Saxe Point (at the pedestrian entrance near Fraser and Munro) every Tuesday from 9:30-11:30am and at Highrock Park (at the entrance near Cairn and Old Esquimalt Road) every Thursday, 9:30-11:30am. For information, phone 250-475-5408.

Neighbourhood Houses
Call the Neighbourhood House in your area to find out about drop-in programs and other opportunities for you and your child.
Beacon Community Services (various locations) 250-656-0134, Blanshard Community Centre 250-388-7696, Burnside Gorge Community Centre 250-388-5251, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House 250-385-2635, Fernwood Community Centre 250-381-1552, James Bay Community Project 250-388-7844, Military Family Resource Centre 250-363-2640, Saanich Neighbourhood Place 250-360-1148, Sooke Family Resource Society 250-642-5152. Most drop-in programs are free or cost a nominal fee.

Support For New Families
The Mothering Touch Centre at 975 Fort Street offers Parent & Babies drop-in sessions 3 times a week: Tuesday afternoons 1-2:30pm for newborns-4 months, Wednesday afternoons 1-2:30pm for babies 4-9 months; Thursday afternoons 1-2:30pm for babies and toddlers 9 months and up. There’s also a Pregnancy Happy Hour (and a half!) for pregnant mothers only, on Friday afternoons from 5-6:30pm. $2. Phone 250-595-4905 or visit web link.

Native Friendship Centre
Programs are designed to promote the health of newborns and mothers in the urban Aboriginal community. The Slaheena & Aboriginal Parenting Programs include a Monday storytime (10:30-11:30am), a Tuesday playgroup (10:30-noon), a Wednesday parent support group (10:30am-1pm), seasonal crafts, and outdoor activities. Phone 250-384-3211 or visit web link.

Support Circles
Create your own (invite a few new parents and their babies over for coffee or tea and chit chat) or join a group that’s already formed. For example, Fernwood Community Centre’s Parent & Baby drop-in playgroup offers a relaxed setting where parents can nurture their babies (up to three years old) through parent discussion, music and storytelling. Mondays, 9:30-11:30am. Coffee, juice and snacks are provided. Suggested donation of $2. Phone 250-381-1552.

Online Connections
Victoria’s active online communities offer a great way to connect with other parents, find out about what’s going on in your community, and discover local resources. At web link you can register to access the KIV community where you can join in or start discussions on any topic. For activities and events of interest to families throughout Vancouver Island, check out the Family Events on harbourliving.ca.

Go for a Stroll
Meet up with a few new moms and/or dads at the stroller-friendly Gorge Waterway, a perfect place for a leisurely stroll with playgrounds along the way and gorgeous scenery. Or there’s the mostly flat gravel loop around Rithet’s Bog in Saanich. For a few hills, and a tougher slog for the stroller thanks to the wood chip trail, take the loop around Cedar Hill Golf Course where you’ll find beautiful views of the Olympic mountains and a duck pond full of well-fed though seemingly always hungry ducks. If you’re looking for a quiet and scenic paved route, try the Songhees, starting either at Westbay Marina or the Delta Ocean Point resort. If you’re too tired to push the stroller back to your starting point, climb aboard the harbour ferry and boat back instead.•