Andrea Simpson

Helping Hands: Local mom’s Facebook group brings families together from all across the Yukon

Over the last couple of years, parents in the Yukon have had to work a little harder to find safe places to socialize, with other families, and to get advice from other moms and dads. The pandemic has forced a lot of programming to readjust how it is accessed by the public, and many of those places that parents used to gather are either no longer as easily accessible or are possibly non-existent. That is not to say that things are not starting to improve, but while public programming is beginning to re-emerge, one local mom has been hard at work making sure that Yukon parents have a place to go to when they need a helping hand.

Andrea Simpson, who is the loving mom of two young sons, began the Yukon 2020/2021 Babies group on Facebook, in the summer of 2020, as a means of connecting with other parents. She recalls that with her first son, Rowan (4), she had a wonderful maternity leave and was able to meet a lot of other moms and dads at different parenting groups. It was incredibly helpful, she remembers, having that sense of community as you began your life as a mother. However, when her youngest, Alder (1), came along in August of 2020, there were not many of those same opportunities available. “I wanted a place to be social and make those same connections for myself and Alder, as I was able to with Rowan,” she said. She also had a lot of concern for first-time parents who would not have been able to attend any of the groups that had been closed at the time.

The Yukon 2020/2021 Babies group is an online community that has over 500 members to date. It began as a private group where Yukon moms and dads of babies born in both 2020 and 2021 could come together and share, learn, laugh, organize walking groups and socialize with one another without judgment. It has become a safe haven for many parents to ask questions, promote upcoming events and get helpful advice about all things parenting. Jenna Buntain, mom to Henry and Bridget, praises Simpson’s Facebook community because, as she said, “I often feel like I’m alone in things [that] I struggle with as a parent, and it’s nice to know that other parents are willing to give advice and help you through it.”

The group has grown immensely over the last two years. “When you think about the fact that around 400 babies are born in the Yukon each year, having over 500 members is just so cool,” said Simpson with excitement. And it has also been lucky enough to include members of the Yukon community who work with infants and young children professionally, as well. “We have two lactation consultants, a doula, and sleep consultants who are members,” Simpson explained. “It’s been fantastic because we have professionals in the group who can offer up a variety of information to parents, on lots of topics.”

Andrea  Simpson, Ben Simpson, Rowan and Alder
Andrea and Ben Simpson with Rowan, 4, and one-year-old Alder

Another member of the Yukon 2020/2021 Babies community is Jo, from Partners for Children. Jo is affectionately known by many in town for the wonderful work she does in running the Mother Goose groups for little ones and their caregivers. She first heard about the Facebook group at one of the classes she was running, and she offers nothing but flattery for the good it is doing for Yukoners.

“I’m so grateful that it exists,” Jo said. “So often when people come to groups, what they really need is a village. It takes a village to raise a baby; that’s the phrase, and it’s so true. We [parents] need our peers. People who are at the same stage as us. People who get it.

“And while groups end, the brilliant thing about Andrea’s Facebook group is that it doesn’t end. Even at 2 a.m., if you have a question, you can ask, and someone will likely be going through that same thing and can, at the very least, be there to reassure you. It really is a great local resource.”

And that is exactly what Simpson hopes for the group’s future: to continue to be a source of information for parents and a place of true connection. She says that she understands that as the children of the members grow older, there will likely be less of a need for parents to log-on with concerns, but she hopes the friendships that are forming amongst parents, now, will continue to last.

Photo Fridays are also a highlight for Simpson and for many members of the group. Photo Friday is a weekly posting, on the newsfeed, where members all get a chance to share a photo of their little one. “I just love getting to see these babies grow up. They are all in a similar cohort, and it’s wonderful to see them all hitting important milestones, like first steps or the first day of daycare together. Some of these babies will graduate together. That is amazing to think about!”

The Yukon 2020/2021 Babies group is one that means a great deal to so many Yukon families. It has become a source of belonging for parents during an intensely difficult time to have and raise a child. Andrea Simpson knows she has created something very special, and the members of her wonderful online community definitely agree.

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