The importance of social connection as a parent cannot be overestimated. Amid shifts and stress, parents in the first responder community need regular peer catch-ups in order to maintain their mental fitness – and this has been more important than ever during the pandemic, a time in which parents have felt the impacts of isolation.
That’s why mums, dads and grandparents within the first responder community enjoyed a weekly Fortem Playgroup throughout 2021.
The group formed some really good relationships, with the kids – aged from 0 to 5 years – being an easy way to bring everyone together and create great family bonds.
‘I don’t usually make any connections with partners of people working in the same field as my husband. I have stayed separate for a long, long time. But I would like to keep some of the connections I have made through the Fortem playgroup.’– Playgroup participant
What started as a regular catch-up on Fridays became much more than that. It became a way for those coming along to debrief from the week, especially for those with partners on shift work, and to navigate the challenges that the pandemic brought along, as well as the general chaos of raising children.
‘The best organisation in Australia for families is Fortem Australia, hands down. I am hoping they can expand everywhere. We go to their local playgroup and it’s wonderful’.’– Playgroup participant
The group shared work stories, children’s dramas and successes, as the kids engaged in active play outside. They also celebrated Mother’s Day, birthdays, Halloween and Christmas with a variety of fun crafts for the kids to do.
It became a highlight of the week, for kids and adults alike, to come along and be with their friends.
The participants enjoyed the social connection, and now have friends and families to connect further with over the Christmas break.