story by Patricia Merrick | photography by Jessi Gowan
When you’re a new mom who spends your days inside talking to a newborn baby and waiting for a chance to have a shower and a bite to eat, getting out and socializing is important for your mental health.
Luckily for moms in Crossfield, there are feasible options where you can hand your baby or toddler over to a childcare worker and have a little break while participating in activities, learning something new and visiting with other moms.
Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) has been operating in Crossfield for 18 years and meets every second and fourth Thursday from 9:15 to 11 a.m. at the Crossfield Baptist Church from September to May.
According to MOPS co-ordinator Janice Mountain, the program gives local moms a chance to participate in activities and meet other moms while volunteers look after their children. It only costs $40 for the year.
“We do whatever we can to keep our cost down and the reason we can keep it so low is because we have these amazing volunteers and they come back year after year and I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s awesome because you certainly get more out of it I think than you put in.”
The group of 10 volunteers meets on the Thursdays in between MOPS sessions to plan each session. The program is registered through MOPS International and receives grant money from the Town of Crossfield, according to Mountain.
Volunteers provide childcare and snacks, and there are “mentor moms” who have older kids and are there to provide advice to new moms.
“It’s really encouraging when you see the moms get together and they’re able to talk and share or do a craft together or whatever and just see that sense of belonging with each other,” Mountain said.
Those interested can register for the program in September or pay a $5 drop-in fee since this year’s program is coming to an end. The first session is free.
Crossfield moms can also catch a break at a Pregnancy and Beyond session, a monthly program put on by North Rocky View Community Links (NRVCL). The program runs every third Thursday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Crossfield & District Community Centre.
According to Candice Reed, NRVCL community support worker and facilitator of the program, childcare is provided while moms listen to a guest speaker talk about health, dental, speech therapy and self-care, or prepare a meal to take home.
“It gives moms a chance to get a little bit of a break but also gives them a chance to maybe learn something new,” she said. “I’ve been a mom for 21 years and I still learn something in these groups.”
Attendees are connected with resources in the area, and a public health nurse, family resource worker and dietitian are often made available to answer any questions they may have.
There is no cost to the program, which has been running in Crossfield for about four years. It’s for pregnant moms or moms with children under the age of six, and runs year-round with the exception of December. Food bank donations are also made available for moms who may be struggling financially.
Reed said she encourages moms to attend the program to get out and socialize and maybe even make some new friends.