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My daughter and I try to attend at least one program a week. Ontario has province-wide programs that cater to families with children up to 6 years of age. We first found out about Ontario Early Years centres in January. My daughter was 8 months old then and the house was getting much too small for both of us.  Add to that the fact that it was wintertime, so strolling outdoors was out of the question. The only place we were able to go for a walk was the mall or a store that’s big enough, such as Costco. Not only did doing the latter cost money (it’s hard to not buy when you’re already there!), it also did not satisfy our need for socialization. We both needed to meet people outside our little circle – people who were experiencing the same ordeal we were.

When a fellow mommy from church told us about the OEYC program called ‘Love My Baby’ (for babies 0-12 months old), I felt it was just what we needed. The first time we went, there were three other mommies with their children (ranging in age from 3 to 10 months). My daughter benefited from the singing while i benefited from the discussions regarding issues each of us mommies have encountered, and how we dealt with them. It was a relief to know that there were other moms like myself, who wasn’t getting much sleep at night, or whose baby cried a lot, or who found it hard to get dinner going because little one doesn’t like Da-da all that much. As a first time mommy, I often second guessed myself when it came to caring for my daughter. At times I felt my daughter was the way she was because I was doing things wrong.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from attending this program, it’s that I am the one who knows my child best and should therefore, trust my instincts.

The spring program that replaced Love My Baby is called Living and Learning With Baby and is still ongoing. This is where a Public Health Nurse talks to mommies about issues encountered at various stages of development. Unfortunately, we were only able to attend three sessions because my daughter is now more than 12 months old. The nurse was unavailable for one of the sessions so we sang songs and discussed current issues. The topics discussed in the other two sessions were sleep and nutrition, which I would love to share with you in future posts.

Since the beginning of the month, we’ve been to three different centres looking for another program (also OEYC) we can frequent. The first one being Family Time, which is available to families with more than one children under age 6. This program is structured to encourage play for an hour and enjoy circle time for half an hour. The first centre we went to was alright, but felt the space was too big and did not foster socialization with other mommies and children. The next one was more of an attempt because the centre was already FULL by the time we got there (about 5 minutess late). I imagine it’s due to the fact that many of the families that go there live in the same (condo) building. Third location is a charm because we enjoyed Open Door/Family Time last Thursday and will now be going there every week. The format is exactly the same as the first centre but the space is much smaller which makes socialization possible. The facilitator also made circle time lots of fun. My daughter enjoyed the choice of songs and story-telling.

Moms, if you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to take advantage of free programs offered by your community. They are great for both parent and child. Not only will it keep boredom at bay, you will also get tips (both from professionals and fellow moms)  on how to guide your child through various stages of development.

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