Starting out as a new parent in Zug…
As I logged out of my work laptop for the last time for at least the next 12 months I knew that my new job namely’ motherhood’ would shortly begin. I now understand this to be a job for life but back then I was only focused on the year ahead. Once my beautiful baby son arrived, safe and sound I quickly realised I needed to find some other friends in the same situation as me. The problem was I didn’t know if they even existed, or where I would find them. I had not paid much attention to pram pushing mothers in the past and certainly not listened out for any English speakers. I knew lots of ex pats but none of them had children. Our paths just hadn’t crossed in the 4 years I had lived in Switzerland with my then boyfriend and now husband.
It was then I stumbled across the IMKC website and there on the page seemed to be the answer to my maternity leave woes. A fully fledged parent and baby network for internationals. Exactly what I was looking for but I still had concerns on how I might fit in. I was going to be a working mum, new to this group where everyone seemed to know each other, my son was only 7 weeks old and here I was already in a playgroup, I questioned how I would be perceived. Despite these apprehensions I summoned up the courage to step through the doors on a snowy Monday morning to be greeted by another first time mum who was also new to the group. As I entered the room a whole new world opened up to me. I was relieved to discover that there was a group of international first time mothers just like me but also delightfully not like me. There was a diverse mix of ages, nationalities and circumstances collectively bonding over a new found status. From that first induction I went on to fully embrace the Monday baby group. Meeting up with everyone would set me up for the week and often other plans would be discussed for play dates, picnics, trips to the zoo not to mention the all important mums’ nights out. At weekends we would get the dads involved as well who were grateful to tap into a new circle of friends.
I went on to become the club secretary, attending meetings, redesigning the website and helping at the annual Easter and Halloween parties. I managed the correspondence from new members. Every time I saw an enquiry from a new mum it reminded me of how I had felt. Sometimes I could sense the pressure they were experiencing just from the initial email. ‘New to Switzerland’, ‘young family, ‘desperate to meet people’. It was a familiar request and one with which I knew IMKC could help.
Even after I returned to work full time I remained actively involved and watched groups develop from the new intake of bumps and babies to the older, mixed siblings. A play room with some toys, sofas and a coffee machine had provided an essential source of support for many families often during a difficult time of changing circumstances and frequently without close family nearby. I truly believe that IMKC has positively enriched the experience so many new parents in Switzerland would otherwise have had and for that I feel proud to be involved. When I see a new mum come through the door assuming everyone knows each other, looking nervous and wondering how they will be judged, I feel relieved that they have also found IMKC and I am confident that very soon they will also realize they have come to the right place.
As IMKC looks forward to its 20 year anniversary, some friendships still exist today from the19 founding members back in July 1996. The club now regularly attracts over 80 members a year despite the inevitable high ex pat turnover. This non-profit organization runs on a volunteer basis. IMKC has a clubroom at the Christlicher Treffpunkt in Baar. All new members are always welcome, check out the website for more details (www.imkc.ch).