We're in this Together - May parenting column from CNYCentral's Megan Coleman

Parents know how cumbersome it can be to juggle multiple kids, toting them to and from school, soccer, ballet class and play dates. It is even more challenging when you factor in loading each of those kids into car seats and booster seats, ensuring they are all safe.

CNYCentral Anchor Megan Coleman delves into this issue in her most recent column in Syracuse Parent Magazine.

The May edition, which is on newstands now, features Megan's column, "We're in this Together," which appears monthly in the magazine. This month's column talks about finding the best avenues for children to meet and interact with other kids. Today's parents face unique challenges in encouraging their children to socialize. Safety is paramount and on the forefront of every parent's mind, but ensuring there is enough room in the car let alone enough car seats to safely transport their childrens' playmates can be a challenge.

This month's edition also features the Cutest Baby Contest entries and the baby who made the magazine's cover.

You can also check out the "When They Were Kids" contest page, featuring CNYCentral anchors Megan Coleman and Michael Benny. Click here to see if you can guess what they looked like as babies.

Read the full text of this month's column below.

As a new mother finding her way around the labyrinth of parenthood and the best approach to raising happy and well-adjusted children, I have come to realize that one of the greatest challenges we all face is finding the best avenues to have our children meet and interact with others.

From the youngest age, children are fascinated by and delighted with the companionship of other youngsters. My parents' first house was situated on a cul-de-sac in San Antonio, Texas. My best friend, Valerie, lived in the house next door. We would spend endless hours sitting on the curb examining the stones beneath our feet or washing our babies in a blow-up rubber pool. When we felt particularly daring, we would bravely sit side-by-side on our matching plastic three-wheel tricycles and venture up and down the driveway.

During that era, no one had bicycle helmets, knee pads or special garments designed to spare our skin from the potential harm of the glaring Texas sun. We pranced around in diapers, wearing hats designed to keep the sun's glare from being a nuisance, and whatever remnants remained of sunscreen that was applied before our first romp through the sprinkler. Once we eventually made our way indoors, we would head to one or the other's "great room," where we would play endlessly in a sea of scattered books, toy and blocks. A community swimming pool was not far away but far enough to require transportation by car. We would sit in the back seat, buckle our seat belts, and off we would go. Several of the mothers in the neighborhood created a "playgroup," and once a week, one of four would be on duty, while the remaining three would head to the grocery store, to an exercise class or to the hairdresser.

I make reference to the events of my early childhood only to illuminate a day gone by and the now current socialization issues we face as mothers. Understanding that nothing remains the same, today's parents face unique challenges in helping their children to socialize with others. Rightly so, a child's safety is paramount. How one successfully incorporates that component into a child's day to day existence is probably a parent's greatest quagmire. Whereby my parents played kickball and rode their bikes with the admonition to "be home in time for dinner," my siblings and I were only allowed to do the same under the watchful eye of another parent. In today's world, playgroups under the supervision of one mother appear to be rare.

As a working mother, I am available every day to drop off my daughter at pre-school. I have a wonderful caretaker who retrieves her at the end of school; she also has my infant son in the car, so the entire backseat is occupied with bodies and equipment. Even if she wanted to give other children a ride home from school, it would prove next to impossible. With all the worries in the world taking up any extra room we may have in our vehicles, we can't dwell on concerns for too long.

Since the beginning of this conversation we've been having in Parent, it's been made clear that it takes a village to raise our families. We must seek refuge in the love and care of our family, friends, caregivers and our community. Then, and only then, will we be able to enjoy the journey of parenthood and watch our children learn and grow with confidence.

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