Making new friends as a child seems to come naturally. But, establishing relationships and social networks as an adult — and especially as a parent — can sometimes be a struggle. Yet, forming those networks is incredibly important. You need support, understanding, and community as much as your child does. 

So, how can you foster parenting connections? 

Consider spending more time in neighborhood play areas. These areas of your community exist for a reason, and you can utilize them for much more than to help your child burn off some energy. 

The parenting connections forged within these areas can lead to lasting friendships, support systems, and more. You’ll foster friendships that will build a sense of community and let you know you’re not alone on this parenting journey. 

The importance of forming connections

Having children changes your life. It can shift your perspective on things, and might even make you feel like you have a completely new identity. Those are all good things, but it’s important to ensure you don’t lose yourself along the way. It’s good for your mental health and overall well-being to have other adult friends — especially parents. 

Forming those connections with other people on similar journeys comes with many benefits, including: 


  • A built-in support system
  • A sense of community
  • Better balance in your life
  • Encouragement

Having other parents as friends can also help give you a fresh perspective on situations if you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused, or even somewhat down about the way things are going. You can turn to those people when you need someone to listen, when you’re looking for advice, or even when you need a break. The stronger your connections, the easier it will be to start viewing those friends as chosen family, and your kids can grow up together while forming safe and secure bonds. 

Using neighborhood play areas for parenting connections

Again, it’s often easy to make friends when you’re a kid because you’re in spaces and situations where meeting people is the norm. That’s not always true once you become a parent. So, use the spaces available to you — including neighborhood play areas. Child-friendly spaces like parks are great for helping your kids meet new friends, but you might also end up meeting someone you can connect with. 

Not all playgrounds are equal. It’s important to do your research when you’re choosing a neighborhood where your child will play. Consider local traffic, how many people live in the area, and the general upkeep of a playground before you decide to go there. Finding a safe space for your children to play will not only give you greater peace of mind, but you can take comfort in knowing the parents you see in those places with their families have likely done their due diligence, as well. 

You might even consider building your parental network before you go to a public play area. Join local community social media groups and ask about area parks and playgrounds. It’s a great way to connect with other parents ahead of time, and perhaps schedule playdates at those safe, agreed-upon locations. 

Your child’s safety and well-being should be your top priority. Even if you do find a safe and child-friendly playground, ensure your child knows the rules for how to stay safe, and prepare yourself ahead of time by making sure they’re wearing bright clothes, reminding them to follow the rules, and encouraging them to play in a group, rather by themselves. 

If you can’t find a local playground that meets your needs, do a quick search on local kid-friendly organizations. Things like youth clubs, community centers, or even sports leagues provide safe and unique opportunities for kids to connect with each other, and for parents to do the same in a safe and effective way. They’re obviously a little more organized than simply taking your child to a playground, but they can help foster your child’s natural interests. You could be fueling a passion by introducing your child to specific activities. 

Building your network

Meeting other parents at the park or community center is one thing, but how can you foster those connections and build your network? 

Try going beyond the playground. Organize events, activities, and even small get-togethers for your kids and some of the parents you’ve met. That could include a picnic or barbecue, a meet-up at another local park, or a day at the beach. With a bit of planning and preparation, your family can connect with others and end up spending the whole day together. 

Consider packing a cooler with snacks and lunch so everyone can stay energized throughout the day, making sure to: 

  • Pre-cool your cooler with ice overnight
  • Prep your ingredients before you pack
  • Freeze any meats you’re going to cook to keep them cold the whole day
  • Use plenty of ice
  • Keep the cooler closed unless it’s necessary to open

If you’re not sure where to meet up, do your research. There are plenty of local places that are perfect for playdates, but it’s understandable to want to ensure they’re safe and in good neighborhoods before you arrange family or community meet-ups there. Public parks, outdoor museums and play areas, and even public gardens can all be wonderful spaces to foster connection and fun. 

As a parent, it’s normal to want to do everything for your child. But, don’t underestimate the importance and necessity of fostering parent connections and building friendships for yourself, too. Doing so will not only benefit your well-being, but it will help your child to develop strong social and communication skills from a young age, and those are skills that will benefit them well into adulthood. 


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