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From Infants to Empty-nesters

PEPS was the beginning of a wonderful community that keeps on giving! We are so grateful for PEPS being the first link in that long chain of life.

- Janet Dowd, PEPS mom

Janet Story
Janet's son and fellow PEPS kids camping

Janet's PEPS kids
Janet's son and fellow PEPS kids at their high school graduation party

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The change from being a small import-business owner “running with the horses” to nestling in a rocking chair with a nursing baby was a huge transition. Time slowed down and got important and stressful in a whole new way.

I thought, “Help! How do I deal with all these changes?!” And the answer was PEPS!

A new Mom introduced me to PEPS 20 years ago. It was the most amazing and supportive thing in parenting for my friends and peers at that time. PEPS was the beginning of a continued connection to a wonderful community of parents and children.

When our infant group “graduated,” I met members of another PEPS group with whom I bonded instantly. Before long a couple of the women started a “Family Co-op,” or babysitting co-op. We wanted to create a ‘village’ to support us as parents and children through all the early parenting things AND as our children grew up. It was the best thing.

We of course shared babysitting and we also had regular, less frequent meetings of the group, which were nice outings for the parents. One of the beauties of the babysitting co-op was that the children were cared for by other parents – parents who already had their homes set up for that age of child and who understood what to expect of children at each stage they are in. It meant a lot to have adults who understood the developmental stages of children, perhaps better than most 13 year old babysitters.

Since my husband and I had decided we wanted one child, one of our jobs as parents included providing social interaction with peers for our son. The co-op was wonderful because we would just add the child we were babysitting into our activity of the day or evening.

The Family Co-op really did live up to its name as new babies were born, meals were made and delivered, when cancer showed its spots, we cared for the mom and child with food, rides, childcare and all that a community does at those times.

Then there were the camping trips! It was so fun to have ready playmates and fellow campers to romp at the lakeshore and play in tents together and yes, learn how to spread out the tarp when the sky gives way to rain. We were comfortable guiding each other’s kids as needed. Our son’s first best friend was from this group.

Several families from these early PEPS Groups have danced through life together attending birthday parties, having annual Halloween pumpkin carving gatherings and sharing various seasonal and life marking events.

PEPS kept on giving as yet another sub-group evolved which became a dinner group of four families where once a week we would leave our own kitchen and go to another’s home for dinner and we could have parent and kid time together. It was such a rich experience getting together around meals once a week…until school and sports and such eventually made schedules too challenging.

Here we are now 20 years later and we are attending each other’s High School Graduation parties. Just last week, we had one of the couples over to celebrate…their new Empty-Nester status! PEPS was the beginning of a wonderful community that keeps on giving! We are so grateful for PEPS being the first link in that long chain of life.

About the Author

Janet Dowd was active in her PEPS Group twenty years ago and Janet and her husband have maintained ongoing support for PEPS over the years. Janet is active in her south Seattle community.

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