Parenting can be an emotional and physical rollercoaster, and figuring out what can make things easier for us is a very personal journey. Thankfully, there is a wealth of support out there: from English-language organisations and services that have parents’ (and future parents’) needs firmly at the heart of what they do, to a wide range of help, coaching, and dedicated support for various aspects of parenting.
Looking for information about support during the postnatal period? See our page on postnatal recovery and support.
Brussels Childbirth Trust
The Brussels Childbirth Trust has offered English-language support to families and parents-to-be since the late 1970s! It’s a not-for-profit organisation run entirely by member volunteers who know exactly what its like to start or raise a family far from usual support networks in our home countries.
The BCT offer includes:
- activities like playgroups, new mums drop-in, gardening club, craft activities, music groups, as well as parenting information talks
- over ten local groups, where you can really build local networks and share hints and tips with others living close-by
- support groups, including groups for those using IVF or other assisted reproductive treatments; for parents whose babies start their lives in NICU, for gay and lesbian parents, for single parents, for parents of children with special needs, and parents of twins and multiples
- birth preparation including the one-session ‘Pregnancy in Belgium’ evening, classic 16-hour antenatal courses, and hypnobirthing courses
Antenatal and Baby
Run by midwives Jo Everatt and Hannah Kurz, Antenatal and Baby provides English-language support to parents and parents-to-be. As well as birth preparation courses, breastfeeding support, and pre- and postnatal midwife care, Antenatal and Baby also offers:
- a wide range of live information sessions on topics as varied as baby-led-weaning, perinatal psychology, baby photography, multilingualism and much more. Recordings are also made available.
- a vibrant online community, open to all those who have availed of Antenatal and Baby services, with various private Facebook groups including a main group, one for parents of toddler age and above, a group for those who have now left Brussels, and a dedicated group for donation/recycling and sale of pregnancy/baby related items for minimal cost.
- Facebook support groups, including groups for parents of children with special needs (open to everyone); for parents of twins and multiples (open to Antenatal and Baby community); for parents looking for a new job.
More and more family-friendly spaces are popping up all over Brussels and further afield, offering welcoming spaces where parents of babies and young children can enjoy a change of scenery, a chance to meet others, and often a range of activities and workshops.
Brussels Childbirth Trust’s Clubhouse
Members of the Brussels Childbirth Trust can take advantage of the BCT’s official venue, the Clubhouse, on Chaussée de Waterlook in Ixelles.
It is a space purely created to welcome families with babies and young children for fun and safe parent-child activities like playgroups, new mums drop-in, gardening club, craft activities, music groups, as well as parenting information talks, courses and classes for parents.
All facilities that make life with young children easier are of course available (high chairs, a cot, potties, changing station, little tables and chairs etc) plus inspiring toys (for instance activity boards, soft play and ride on toys) and beautiful theme corners such as the dress up rails, the craft tables or the cosy reading corner packed with colourful cushions. There is also a well equipped kitchenette to prepare small snacks and beverages and a beautiful, walled garden.
Familia – family space
Familia in Etterbeek (website and Facebook page) is an international baby- and kid-friendly space designed to assist and encourage creativity, communication, education, well-being and collaboration within families and communities in Brussels.
Various playgroups and activities are organised throughout the week, and the space can also be rented for birthday parties.
Coaching for parenting-related issues
- Johanna Tilly, postpartum doula, school teacher and coach (see Johanna’s village profile and Facebook page), can help you with any parent-related challenge, from sleep issues (you or your kids), issues at crèche, école maternelle/ kleuterschool or at school, eating issues, bringing kids up bilingual, behavioural issues, divorce, exhaustion, stress at work and more.
Drop Johanna an email at email@example.com and she’ll tell you whether and how she might be able to help or she’ll recommend someone who can.
Adapting to a new country
- Life coach and doula Nathalie Berg offers support to parents arriving in Belgium. She can help you adapt in order to make the transition to your new life as successful as possible, providing advice and practical details to get your Belgian chapter off to a great start. Nathalie can also help with organising family outings and adventures in Belgium and Europe.
If you’re taken extended time off to look after your children, it was be challenging to put yourself back on the job market. And perhaps you’ve even realised that you want to do something completely different.
Coach Johanna Tilly (see Johanna’s village profile and Facebook page) is an internationally experienced career coach, trained by the UK Ministry of Entrepreneurship. She used to be a recruitment consultant for a FTSE 250 company in Belgium and therefore knows the Belgian market, way of and requirements for hiring very well. Johanna offers individual coaching online or in-person and further gives CV, cover letter, Linkedin and interview skills workshops from time to time. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for all info.
The Antenatal and Baby community runs a Facebook group dedicated to parents who are looking for a new job or to change jobs. This is open to parents who have already availed of Antenatal and Baby services, so if you’re already part of that community, reach out for more details.
Yoga for parents and families
- Yoga for better sleep for the whole family – a 4-week-course, 40 minutes via Zoom OR in-person each week where Johanna covers yoga and breathing exercises that can help you sleep, and also uses guided meditations. This course is for all parents who want to improve their own or their children’s sleep. Three of the sessions are for parents only and the fourth is for parents with children from 2.5/3 years old to teenagers.
- Yoga for parents – An ongoing online class that you can join any time for a weekly 40-minute session via Zoom. Yoga, stretching, breathing, relaxation exercises to help parents (of any fitness level or experience with yoga) relax and have a moment of calm to themselves.
- Family yoga in the comfort of your home – Johanna can come to your home at an agreed date and time to do yoga with your whole family, i.e. parents and kids together. You’ll learn poses together, complete challenges, relax together, laugh together, try out yoga games and massage each other. This can also be a combined class between multiple families.
Contact Johanna at email@example.com to find out more about classes she’s currently running.
Invaluable local facebook groups
Here are some of the local Facebook groups/pages you really should join/follow!
- English-speaking mums in Brussels: This private group is a truly wonderful resource for all parents in Belgium. The majority of members are based in Brussels and the surrounding areas. This is a well-managed, supportive community where you can ask any family-related questions, and share you own experience. Closed group, but any parent in Belgium can request to join.
- Brussels Childbirth Trust’s Facebook group: Even if you’re not a member of this wonderful family association, you can still take full advantage of their vibrant Facebook group, which has almost 5,000 members. It’s a private group, but you can request to join the group, or ask a member to invite you.
- BCT Schools Support Network: This private group is dedicated to questions and shared experiences around schools in Belgium. Covers local and international schools. Like the main BCT Facebook group, it’s a private group, but anyone can request to join.
- Brussels Area School Parents Support Page: This closed Facebook group is for families who have children in local schools both Flemish and/or French in the Brussels area. The goal of the group is to bring families together in each commune and in each school to share their knowledge and experience for past/present and future students.
- World Wild Schooling – Belgium: Previously known as ‘Forest fun in Belgium’, this English-language group has been a life-saver for hundreds (thousands?) of families since it was launched. Moderated by the wonderful Jo Koni, the group is a place to share and discover all sorts of family-friendly outdoor (and indoor) activities all over Belgium. Join the group to access an excellent map that will help you and your family explore corners of Belgium you never even thought about before.
If you’ve been involved with Antenatal and Baby, you’ll also have access to the private Antenatal and Baby group reserved exclusively for those known to founder Jo Everatt. This is a wonderfully diverse and supportive group so make sure to join if you can.
Loss support groups
- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Belgium Facebook group: Waterloo-based mum Joanne Fraser has set up a support group, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Belgium – a closed Facebook group – for the loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth, infant death, conceiving or expecting after a loss.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to be added to the Facebook group.
Other support groups
The BCT has several social and support networks, providing friendship, exchange of information and support to its members. All groups meet up on a regular basis and are welcoming new members at all times.
All groups are initiated and organised by BCT members for members, so info and contact details are only shared with members.
You are not a member yet but would like to find out more about one of these groups? Or you would like to set up a new Support Group? Then please contact the Groups Coordinator at email@example.com.
If you or a family member is struggling with mental health, help is at hand! Take a look at our Mental health page for more on the resources and support available.