Alison Leighton’s move to Chappaqua wasn’t all that different from many other newcomers to this bucolic town. She was looking for a great school district, beautiful surroundings and a place to put down roots for her expanding family. Her Sutton Place South apartment was getting crowded and her husband Matthew who is partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP needed a reasonable commute to his office a block away from Grand Central.
The family moved here in July 2021 and she was eager to meet new moms and other young families. While she lived in the city, she had started a Social Parents group for new parents in her neighborhood in 2019. Armed with a background in marketing with positions at Citibank and American Express, Leighton loved organizing in-person events for new parents such as brunch meetups and a Babies and Brew playgroup but with her move north of I-287 in the middle of a pandemic, she knew the format of her group would have to change.
“When I moved to Westchester (with a baby due this April), I wanted to revitalize the Social Parent brand, so she started hosting a free weekly Zoom group for expecting women called Pregnant Mama. “This was my passion but also the group was also created because meeting people with the COVID barrier was hard,” she admits.
When Leighton’s first son Paul was born in the city at NYU Hospital there was a weekly support group for new moms. “It was my favorite time of the week,” she reminisces. “I made close mom friends and I wanted to create and build that community here.” The group helped serve as a resource for her and provided helpful information to let her know what to expect down the pipeline. Other moms provided tips such as traveling with a baby.
“Going to a website to research something about your baby is very different than talking to a mom. It can give you validation. Maybe your baby is having a four month sleep regression and you wonder if it is just your baby–that real time connection plus building friendships is invaluable.”
Her Pregnant Mama group in Westchester has helped forge friendships while providing expert advice. Examples of experts who have given webinars to the group include Armonk-based perinatal and child therapist Sloan Post and Liza Montanino, a pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Rock-a-Bye Baby Sleep. Other speakers have included a financial advisor and a prenatal masseuse. The group meets weekly Thursday night at 8:15 pm via Zoom as of press time.
With COVID winding down and a new baby on the way, Leighton has no plans of slowing down though. “I plan to lean into it [Social Parent] more.” She plans on holding in-person events for the toddler set so that her children can meet other toddlers and babies and hopes to host in-person events for new moms and dads this summer.
When she isn’t moving full steam ahead with Social Parent or working on her freelance marketing and writing career, Leighton and her family are enjoying the outdoors here hiking or spending time at area playgrounds. “The whole town is like a big nature preserve and I love the trees in my backyard,” she gushes.
For more information about her group or to partner with her on events, email SocialParentNY@gmail.com. She also provides parenting ideas and inspiration on her Instagram handle @SocialParent_Westchester.