I’m starting a local moms w/type 1 support group in my area. Technically it’s already started; at least the online group. I’m trying to compile a list of discussion questions (not necessarily just related to mom life - life with diabetes in general works, too) to pick from for the first few meetings - we’ll be meeting monthly if all goes according to plan. Any suggestions for topics to discuss?
Anyone else started up local support groups on their own? Any tips or suggestions?
I think, if you’ve given people a warm, safe, and friendly environment where they can talk about life with diabetes (which is going to include parenting no doubt), then the topic-generating will kind of take care of itself. Of course you’ll need some conversation starters. And of course you’ll want to always have ideas to fall back on in case of a quiet day, but getting a little conversation going and seeing where it goes is a lot of what makes it interesting, real, and worth coming back for.
With that being said, here are a few things I wouldn’t mind hearing in a local t1 mom group:
What’s everyone’s story? How long living with it, how’s their control, biggest obstacles, support system… that kind of stuff. Just some material that helps people have an idea who they’re sitting with and hopefully find something to connect on early.
Pregnancies and child rearing experiences. How’s it been and how’s it going? Maybe I’m wrong, but I think women often like to share these stories anyway, and sometimes the diabetic pregnancy can be a little more intense. Maybe let people tell it. Or talk about it. It can be a discussion about the past, but it lends to the future as well. Who’s planning another? What have been the difficulties? Successes? Good doctors in your area, things that worked, things to watch out for… I’m not sure this would be a separate meeting than the first topic, but I think if you’re setting up a group, the first thing you want is to let them feel like they’re getting to share their story and hear others’ as well.
Keeping up a healthy physical routine with little ones. What do people do for exercise? Or do they not? Ideas for places or events that maybe are catering to the needs of both mom and baby.
Health, nutrition, and medical stuff. I’m getting tired. And don’t think I need to explain that very broad category.
Mental heath… how to keep it together when it’s all coming down. Again, you don’t have to have the answers. The discussion will provide some. It’s also just nice for people to hear their own struggles be told by another person. It’s good to vent. And maybe to laugh.
Technology. Who’s wearing what? What’s great? What’s baby proof or spit up proof or not too loud? Whose babies are ripping out their sites??
Partners. Support. Family. What kind of help do these ladies have from others?? This one is huge. I think. It’s nice to provide a space for moms who are living with this a place to talk about their frustrations or victories or whatever. Friendships can be formed during discussions like this.
Family nutrition, medical care/concerns, and general strategies or theories… whose kids aren’t allowed to have sugar? Whose kids eat nothing but donuts every morning? Who worries, who doesn’t? Who has tested their kid’s a1c? Or done a fingerstick? Anyone heard what’s the best approach? Symptoms in kids… celiac disease or other common conditions associated with diabetes…
I hope I read your question right. I tried brainstorming some things for you, but I think the most important topic is the one the group determines they need. So you ask as often as possible if anyone has an idea for the next meeting— or a topic— or an idea for an upcoming event… And I think it’s also perfectly acceptable to make clear that you don’t have any answers but are looking forward to exploring possible ideas alongside them.
I think you know all those things. I’d love to come check out your group. I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.
I’ve been to a couple of meetups, and I feel like a lot of it seems a little awkward at first but once people get talking then it’s hard to stop!
Easy ones I can think of is kind of like a “rose, bud, and thorn” with diabetes in the past week or month; as in, what’s been something great/something you’re thankful for about you diabetes management recently? Have any annoyances or hard days with it that you want to vent about? Anything you’re looking forward to or that you’re going to try out soon?
I have seen a number of discussions on how to motivate children on taking care of their own health.
In keeping with that theme and incorporating the family aspect, I think a discussion on how it’s changed family life. Things like we ALL now exercise and eat better, or we all get up an hour earlier for school, or we don’t let our diabetic child eat donuts, but we keep them on a high shelf and snack on them after the child is in bed.
Keeping along that theme of 1 does it or everyone does it, I think a discussion about strategies employed to make a child feel like they are not isolated in their disease would be great. Everything from camps, youth groups, diabetic Twitter accounts, to I as the parent wore a CGM for a week or taped old tubing and a fake pump to myself for 6 month so I could really understand what it was like for my child.
I certainly applaud your effort. As others have said, I think in person groups are uniquely challenging. It’s much easier dip a toe in an online group without feeling like you have been doing it all wrong when you READ everyone else is doing it different. Likewise, it’s much easier to roll your eyes and scream “newbie” in your head as you scroll to the next topic or comment. Tactfully and compassionately expressing to another parent that they’ve misunderstood something is much different in person without the time to think or have an edit feature at your fingertips.
Thank you all for the helpful suggestions! This gives me a great start.
You did read it right and answered beautifully. And that is an excellent point about frequently checking to see what the group wants.
@Beacher, you should’ve seen my tears/heard my words when my husband asked if he could have some of my (tiny portion) of safe food while I was all pregnant and hormonal and could only eat a limited number of things. Poor guy.
@ClaudnDaye, we don’t deprive our (non-d) kids from eating donuts, either, but since my diagnosis, I’ve definitely become more aware of what’s in the food we eat and made a concerted effort to only buy foods that go in line with what I think they should be eating. Obviously when we’re out to eat they often have a treat, and we have a weekly popcorn/ice cream or candy/movie night. Then of course we just completed an apple-themed preschool week by baking a big ole apple pie to go along with some vanilla ice cream. Basically, diabetes has led to me making better food choices for my family, though we don’t deprive our children of yummy treats in moderation…moderation is key.