Families First. The best (free) parenting resource you didn’t know even about.

One of the many great perks of my job is the opportunity to discover activities and services that I didn’t know previously existed. When I was initially introduced to Families First, my kids were pretty young and truth be told, parenting two toddlers for me was like living in the Wild West. Without a horse. Or a bucket. Tough livin’.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this organization, Families First is a local non-profit offering Seacoast families onsite health care, wellness programs, parenting workshops, parent/child playtimes, mother support groups and so much more. Absolutely everyone is welcome regardless of income.

I’ve attended several of their parenting classes (always free!) over the years and they have been incredibly helpful. I’m grateful to learn new strategies for raising healthy, happy and capable children, but I’m also thrilled to sit alongside other parents who have also lived your hardest day. Sometimes, a little empathy is all you need.

One of the most amazing things about Families First is that they also offer free (free!) childcare during the parenting workshops so you never need to worry about forking out the extra bucks for a babysitter. Sometimes they even throw in dinner for the kids! That alone is worth the price of admission—except that it’s all free!

Here’s a sneak peek of the parenting programs coming up in May. Advance signup is needed for most programs and is always needed for child care; RSVP by calling 603-422-8208 x2. Classes are held at the Portsmouth Community Campus location.

“Active Parenting” Workshop: Another session of this popular weekly class starts 5/3 and runs every Tuesday through 5/31 from 6pm-7:30pm. Learn new parenting strategies around topics such as giving choices, teaching responsibility, redirecting misbehavior, and building character and self-esteem. Look out kids, there’s a new sheriff in town.

“Toilet Readiness” Workshop: Potty training? Sit with other parents and learn how to identify if/when your child is ready and how to work with them for positive results. Program held Thursday 5/12, 9:30-11am.

“Planning Your Summer” Workshop: Here’s one we could all use! Plan for an affordable and memorable summer with your family by discovering activities and adventures to be had right here at home. Program held Thursday, 5/26, 9:30-11am.

The month of June has a slew of excellent topics and facilitators including “Helping Siblings Get Along” on 6/7 & 14, “Creating and Teaching Behavioral Scripts” with psychologist and author Dr. Dawn Huebner  on 6/9, “Parenting & Technology” with psychologist Laura Rubin on 6/21, “No! When and How to Say It” on 6/23 and “Beyond Time Out” on 6/30.

Also, be sure to check out their ongoing playgroups, support sessions and family activities like Toddler Playtime (ages 1-2), Wamesit Playgroup (ages birth to 6 months), Family Morning Out (in Epping and Exeter), Family Fun Night (includes dinner!), Mother-to-Mother Postpartum Group and Parent Recharge, to name a few.

Every program mentioned in this article is free and includes free child care. Details and online registration for program and childcare at familiesfirstseacoast.org or call 603-422-8208 ext. 2.

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