Dot writes: back when Hugh was new I had what was actually rather a good idea about supporting first-time parents. Here it is in case anybody out there has the energy to implement it. (I don’t think I blogged it at the time.) These days it’s quite common for people, perhaps especially people like us who live far from their families and whose social network is centered on their jobs, to become parents without ever having had any practical dealings with a baby, apart from the odd nervous cuddle. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to set up a scheme that would match expectant mums and dads with people who had recently had a baby? The pregnant couple would visit for half a day or so, long enough to change a nappy or two, maybe help with a bath, and generally gain some basic experience. They would then engage to pay back the favour by hosting another couple after their own baby was born. Two to four months would be the ideal age for the babies involved – old enough to have settled into a feeding routine but young enough to be at least vaguely comparable to a newborn. (Trying this with Hugh would probably not help, given that step one in changing his nappy is ‘first lassoo your toddler’.) The scheme would work best on a fairly small and informal scale. When I had the idea I thought it was something that could be run through pregnancy yoga classes. This would mean the participants felt they had at least something in common with the people they’d be welcoming into their homes, and there would be a point of contact and a natural ceiling on numbers.
Maybe I did blog this idea at the time. Oh well, I still think it’s a good idea.
A more recent idea, more relevant to our current situation: a parents’ rainy day co-operative, to solve the problem (suffered acutely by Ken this week) of being stuck indoors with a hyperactive child. There are indoors soft play centres but they tend to be expensive. However, couldn’t parents club together to donate toys, mats and climbing equipment, find some friendly venue that was reasonably large such as a church hall or community centre, and form a rota to open it to each other? There would probably need to be someone there each day to unlock and keep a register of who was there, thus the rota; ideally the co-operative would be big enough for individual parents only to have to give two or three hours per week, to stop their children getting bored. It would probably also need to be a private club which you would join with a modest subscription, or all sorts of legal responsibilities would kick in (maybe they would anyway, but one hopes the members of the club wouldn’t try to sue themselves if their children fell off the climbing equipment they themselves jointly owned).
What do you think? Feeling energetic and inspired to try it? Me neither…