Last week the J launched its newest set of programs, J Baby. The classes include, among others, Newborn 101, Sleep Tight, Steam Babies, Music Makers, Stroller Exercise and Parent and Baby Yoga. Some gatherings will be social while others will be experiential or educational. Registration and class descriptions can be found at http://www.jccdallas.org/earlychildhoodcenter/j-baby/.
The TJP caught up with J Baby Coordinator and Mentor Teacher Dave Stanton to learn a little bit more about the innovative program. Rounding out the multidisciplinary staff are J Early Childhood Director Tara Ohayon and J Baylor Scott & White Health Wellness coordinator Brett Unell
TJP: What is J Baby?
DS: More than any educational or mindfulness tidbits (of which our speakers can dole out plenty) and more than any learning moments your child may experience in any class, our J Baby programming is designed to create a positive space that facilitates parents creating impactful moments. Whether it is through meeting other parents and shedding the feeling of isolation, or bonding with your baby in new and different ways, or having something to look forward to twice a month at our Babies and Bagels speaker series, we are becoming a little corner of Dallas where parents can be their cranky, over-caffeinated, in awe of their child, sleep-deprived, loving, coffee-stained selves.
TJP: How did you come up with the idea for J Baby?
DS: I sat down with Tara Ohayon, our Early Childhood Education director, and Brett Unell, our Baylor Scott & White Health Wellness coordinator, this summer to talk about ways to make the J a destination for more people. My focus immediately turned to finding a way to make parents of babies and toddlers feel welcome, able to connect with other parents and bond over the shared experiences of parenting. In a day and age when so many people follow careers far away from families, the built-in support network of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even friends don’t necessarily follow.
TJP: Tell us a little bit about yourself
DS: I’ve been working with children in the field of summer camps and education for almost two decades now, with every age from infants up through high school. So there was no doubt in my mind that I was adequately prepared — as prepared as one could be — to become a new father. And as somebody who has survived the (almost) first two years of fatherhood, I can say that while my background running a lab preschool and working as a Mentor Teacher at the J was incredibly helpful, it did not necessarily make the responsibility any easier for me or my wife.
When my wife and I relocated to Dallas several years ago, we did not have much of a support network. And for the most part, that was completely fine pre-parenthood. It had been a similar experience during three years in Ohio and we were used to transitioning lives in new cities. But something was different when our son was born. There were some days that were deemed a success if we got a shower before five o’clock in the evening. Dishes piled up in the sink. I’m pretty sure there was one day I wore a shirt covered in spit up from morning digestive pyrotechnics without even realizing it. And for every incident that I can cite, I’m sure my wife could come up with dozens more.
There are so many questions that weren’t answered in baby books, or that we didn’t necessarily agree with — surely there is more than one definitive answer out there. Certainly there must have been other parents going through the same overtired, underlaundered, extra-snippy, “if you give me one more look about my fussy baby, I’m going to scream until my lungs give out” emotional revolving door that is the daily grind of parenting an infant.
J Baby helps to support parents through these trying early years.