Caring For Our Kids

Local resources for new parents

Morning playgroup at The Village Well Photo: courtesy village well

Becoming a parent is one of the most amazing experiences, but it can also be overwhelming and even a little scary. I can relate. I just had my third child and have found myself trying to figure it out all over again. Often I find myself staring at my new bundle of joy with hundreds of questions, trying to meet his every need all while sleep deprived and trying to adjust to my own body’s changes.

Finding the right resources to help navigate the first few months can be essential to your sanity. Whether you have a question about breastfeeding, are looking for some new “mom” friends, or just need a place to go, here are some great local resources to check out.

The Village Well: If you are looking for a place you can walk to that is warm and inviting, then The Village Well is your spot. Located at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, the Well has no religious affiliation and is a great community resource. They have morning playgroups daily from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. with a special young infant circle on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. The annual membership is $50, and the drop-in fee for one child is $25. The main room is a large play space with toys, books, and even snacks — everything you need to keep an infant to 4-year-old engaged and happy. I recently attended a music class with my now-3 month old and was impressed at how clean the facility was and how welcome I felt. It is a very casual place where parents and caregivers can come and go, and it never seems too crowded. This is an especially great find for a rainy day. The new director, Jody Richardson, who had big shoes to fill after “Ms. Jean” left, has some great ideas about ways to add to the program while continuing its mission of being a welcoming and supportive environment for families. 2325 Union Street (at Steiner), 415-921-1850,

Day One: This little gem, located in Laurel Village, is easily accessible by stroller or car with ample street parking and an underground garage. It is designed to be a “home away from home” with a place to change, weigh, and feed your baby. For a small fee, you can enroll in classes and workshops for expecting and new parents, which range in topic from pumping and immunizations to establishing good sleep habits and finding childcare. They also offer new parent groups led by a trained professional to discuss problems and questions, but it is also a great way to meet other parents. Day One is unique in that it also has a retail component with staff knowledgeable about the latest products. They have a wide selection of products and are especially helpful if you need to be fitted for a nursing bra. 3490 California Street (at Locust), Suite 203, 415-440-3291,

Golden Gate Mother’s Group (GGMG): Most moms I know have been a part of GGMG at one point or another and why not? With a membership of over 4,000 local moms, it’s an amazing resource. The membership fee is $75 a year. Their most popular and widely used resource, the online forum, is a place to ask questions and get responses from the group. The topics are mostly about parenting, but can also include anything from travel tips to home renovation or service recommendations. There is also a forum designed specifically to help find a nanny, share care, or babysitter. Another popular reason people join is to find playgroups, which are formed based on your child’s age or a special interest. GGMG helps coordinate the first meeting and provides a facilitator. This is a great way to meet moms from all over the City and to discover parks and cafes outside of your own neighborhood. Many playgroups stay together until the children head off to school. My daughter’s first playgroup still gets together seven years later, and the group has grown considerably with all of the siblings.

Whether you plan to stay at home or take a few months of maternity leave, you may find yourself staring at your little one, too young to talk, too young to take to the park, and thinking, What are we going to do now? I need some adult conversation and to leave the house! I hope these resources will make your adjustment to life after baby smooth and rewarding.

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Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children. She was formerly a television producer in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. E-mail: [email protected]