Chicago is the city of neighborhoods, with more than 200 of them, and that’s not counting the 45 surrounding suburbs. If you and your family have recently relocated to Chicago, you’ve taken the first big step of choosing where to raise your kids — whether it’s a loft downtown or a single-family home in the suburbs.
As you settle into living in a new city, the odds are good that in a city this size, you’re bound to find a niche, with the people and activities that best suit you. To help get you started, we’ve compiled the resources below, for everything from keeping up on school schedules to connecting with other Chicago parents.
Join the network. The Neighborhood Parents Network, with 6,000 Chicago members, aims to help you connect with local families and explore Chicago-centric family-friendly events. Some events from this month include a book club; a session on how to tackle the terrible 2’s and 3’s; and a private school admissions panel discussion.
Get out of the house and into a group. During the newborn phase, it’s important to get out of the house and meet up with other moms, and Chicago is chock full of mom groups. Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, an over-35 mom, or same-sex parents—there’s a group for you. New Moms Group is an educational and peer-support focused program for new moms of babies ages birth to 6 months old. Stroller Strides is a total fitness program that moms can do with their babies (think power walking with a stroller). And Meetup.com is an easy way for new moms to connect based on interests and geographic location — a search for “mommy groups” near downtown Chicago yields more than 60 meetup groups for parents and families.
Plan a park day. Chicago’s 8,100 acres of green space includes more than 515 playgrounds, 260 field houses, and 26 miles of lakefront. When you’re not exploring the parks, you can sign up for a Chicago Parks Districts class, such as acting, ballet, basketball and gymnastics classes and more.The district also lists daily kid-friendly events, like movie nights and pumpkin patches, in different neighborhoods across the city.
Become a founding mom.Founding Moms is a group of entrepreneurial moms that meet and network in Chicago, Oak Park and River Forest. Whether you own a business, want to, or are working on a creative venture, you can surround yourself with other business-minded moms by joining. This group focuses on networking, support, education, and empowerment. At a meetup, you can swap start-up stories, build personal and professional connections and learn from other entrepreneurial moms.
Get schooled. You can use the Chicago Public Schools locator to track down schools in your neighborhood, find out their ratings and check out the programs that the school offers. At CPS‘s website, you can get the latest system news, review the school calendar, check your child’s grades, or download CPS performance reports.
Get support with care. Besides just being a catchy song, the YMCA has a slew of kid-focused programs committed to development and education. The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has locations across Chicago, and offers services such as licensed child care, after-school and before-school programs, day camps and youth groups for babies and kids up to 12 years old. Be sure to check out the YMCA’s Kids Day Out program, a day-long (from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.) local field trip for kindergarteners to 6th-graders.