By Kristen Meub

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Building a community of new parents

Sandians share parenting knowledge and support through the New and Expectant Parents group

BUBBLES IN THE PARK — Members of Sandia’s New and Expectant Parents group gathered at a playground for a morning filled with bubbles, music, and companionship.

BUBBLES IN THE PARK — Members of Sandia’s New and Expectant Parents group gathered at a playground for a morning filled with bubbles, music, and companionship.

Warm morning sunshine, streams of bubbles floating through the air, and Disney music greeted the babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and parents who gathered for a recent New and Expectant Parents group social at North Domingo Baca Park.

The event was a chance for new and expectant parents who work at Sandia to bring their children, spouses, and partners out to socialize with other parents and kids. Babies wearing sun hats sat on blankets watching the bubble machines while older children waved bubble wands and ran around the park. For the parents, it was a chance to get out of the house and connect.

 “We’re trying to build a community,” Christina Beppler (2555), co-leader and founding member of the New and Expectant Parents group, says. “A lot of people I know are raising kids here without extended family support, and it can also be isolating when you have young kids. You go to work, pick up your kids, you go home, and kids go to bed early. Getting plugged in and meeting other parents can help people to not feel lonely or isolated.”

Biopark, splash pads, Explora!

The group tries to host offsite socials quarterly or more frequently, with an emphasis on choosing times and activities friendly for children from newborn to 5 years old. Past socials have included trips to the Biopark, a splash pad, and Explora.

“The events are fun,” Jimmy Carleton (1446), a core member of the group, says. “It’s good to see other people and their kids in a fun environment and get to know some of the things you can do with kids in Albuquerque.”

The socials are just one aspect of the group. The New and Expectant Parents group hosts monthly informational lunches and built a group SharePoint site with tips, reviews, and recommendations for pediatricians, child care providers, and more.

“We want to ease the transition back to work for new moms and dads, support breastfeeding moms as they provide milk for their babies at work, and be a support for parents as they go through the single biggest transition in their lives,” Christina says. “We’re here for people before they go out on leave, and on the other side of that when they come back to work, we tell them ‘We’re here, we’ve done it, it’s hard, and we are here for you.’”

The group hosts its monthly lunches in Bldg. 831 for both Sandians and their spouses and partners. Each lunch has a topic that the group discusses, and questions and tips are always welcome. Recent topics have focused on summer activities with young children, baby wearing, essential baby and child gear, breastfeeding while working, and navigating holiday travel with young children. Jimmy says he first got involved by attending a monthly lunch.

Parents group

From sleep to diapers to eating

“I saw it advertised in the Sandia Daily News and I just showed up for a lunch,” Jimmy says. “We weren’t even expecting at the time, but we were getting ready and had a lot of questions. I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet people and learn what they know, particularly since we are new to Albuquerque and don’t know anything about daycares or pediatricians in town. It’s been nice to be around other people who are going through the same thing and share tips — anything from sleep to diapers to eating.”

Christina also got involved for similar reasons.

“What motivated me was that when I became pregnant with my first child, like many other people I’ve seen, I didn’t have any clue how to get benefits related to pregnancy, how to access community resources, how to choose a care provider, or where to have my baby,” Christina says. “And beyond that, my maternity leave was pretty rocky because I just didn’t know how to downshift from working 40 hours a week and then staying with a baby at home.”

While Sandia’s leave benefit department handles pregnancy, adoption, and foster parent benefits processes and questions, the New and Expectant Parent group is a peer-to-peer networking and support group where parents can discuss parenting strategies and experiences that have worked for their families. The group’s SharePoint research site serves as an extension of the monthly lunches and provides a place for parents to leave reviews of childcare providers and pediatricians, suggest family-friendly activities, restaurants, and businesses, ask questions of the group, share breastfeeding support information, discuss work-life balance strategies, and swap gear. It also has information for expecting parents and parents of multiples.

“We went to a lot of daycares and interviewed a lot of pediatricians,” Jimmy says. “It was nice to be able to weed out the bad ones right from the start and not even consider those while also getting recommendations on good options.”

Looking for information . . .

. . . about Sandia’s benefits for pregnancy, adoption, and foster parents?

  • Visit hbe.sandia.gov and look for information about Sandia’s Expectant Parent Program
  • Attend one of the Expectant Parent Program information sessions, held in Bldg. 832, Rm. 31, every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month, 1:30-3 p.m.
  • Call HR Benefits Customer Service at 844-4237, option 2 for assistance

Want to connect

with the New and Expectant Parents Group?