February 5, 2023

On Parenting: Many opportunities to find parenting connections are here | Community

Samantha Gray

Samantha Gray

It’s getting warmer, and we’re getting braver.

We’re venturing out to explore and find connection. Kids are craving activity, and we’re craving it too. Something fresh, opportunity, and new starts go great with spring.

Children’s and parenting events that have been canceled and postponed over the past two years are popping up again, and some new events and services have developed during that time too. My social media feed is beginning to explode with activities for children and families.

For busy parents, kids’ expos and baby fairs are a convenient way to connect to what the community has to offer to support you as a parent. You can “comparison shop” sports, music, art, drama, dance, classes, clubs, scouts and more opportunities that may interest your children without lots of calls and commitment.

You can learn about health services and even get a screening on the spot, sign up to learn more about a prenatal, breastfeeding or parenting class, or have your car seat-checked for safety. There are often giveaways, special discounts and prize drawings. That car window shade giveaway from the hospital booth might be the best thing you didn’t know you needed. Best of all, there are fun activities for the kids.

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Here’s a boost to help connect parents and caregivers to just an example of some of the upcoming free and low-cost resources and opportunities — where children can also have a blast. Mark your calendar, and for links to all of the opportunities mentioned, visit ParentingSweet.org.

A free “Community Baby Shower” at the Bristol Public Library welcomes new parents and caregivers Monday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. RSVP to participate in this Central Appalachian Mission Project of speakers and prizes, featuring Ballad Health, Bristol’s Promise Parenting, MOMS R US teen parenting program and Virginia WIC Breastfeeding.

The nearly two-decades-old “Kid Power” event’s 2022 theme is “Once upon a time …” and invites us to show up dressed as our favorite storybook character or any character. The free and open-to-all event features more than 30 vendors, activities, door prizes, music, online activities and more for children of all ages at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, Tennessee, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“PLAYtime in the ARTspace” begins May 7 and continues weekly on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Theatre Bristol’s ARTspace in Bristol, Tennessee. For the very youngest theatergoers, from infants to 5 years old, and their caregivers, PLAYtime in the ARTspace, entertains and educates with favorite songs and rhymes and more. Parents connect to coffee, bagels and great parenting resources from around the region.

The “Baby Ready” drive-thru event for new and expecting parents under the age of 24 features vendors and giveaways in the Sullivan County Regional Health Department parking lot in Blountville, Tennessee, May 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Preregister, and then in the comfort of your car, find resources that help with pregnancy, birth, parenting, health care, child care, teen pregnancy and more.

A community arts information and sign-up event on May 21 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the children’s section of the Bristol Public Library provides an opportunity to register or just learn more about children’s music, art, dance and theater classes, workshops, intensives, summer camps, auditions and more from arts organizations around the area, as well as available scholarship opportunities.

An exciting program born during the pandemic is Ballad Health’s STRONG Pregnancies and STRONG Starts program, where information on available resources is brought to parents around the region, along with support and encouragement.

Also new during the pandemic, the Parenting Sweet in downtown Bristol, is a one-stop resource for parents, with parenting education resources and classes provided by the regionwide Parenting Education Network, as well as information on babywearing, breastfeeding, a parenting library and store, a monthly e-newsletter and much more.

For anytime one-stop parenting info, check out the local library, such as the Bristol Public Library parenting section in the children’s library, with books and flyers on events and activities.

Don’t forget Facebook pages and groups like Tri-Cities Tennessee Kids Activities and Johnson City Parents’ Club and new groups like Kidz Connect and Bristol VA/TN and Surrounding Areas Moms Group that connect parents to helpful resources along with support and encouragement.

Share your parenting and children’s groups, events and resources at ParentingSweet.org and help parents and children get out and connect to our community.