I have to admit, I was reluctant to join a Mommy & Me group. I just didn’t want to “deal” with it, for lack of a better reason. My son and I had a good thing going with our daily walks, bi- and tri-weekly outings to Target and counting down the hours until Daddy got home; why on earth would we need a playgroup? At three months old, he wasn’tÃ‚Â even playing yet. Boy, was I wrong!
Everyone in the group had a baby under the age of seven months old and the conversations were exactly what I had dreaded, but very much needed to be a part of; from at what age did your baby sit up/roll over/find his feet/sleep through the night? to where did you get that toy/onesie/hat/play gym and what do you think about that stroller, those diapers/burp cloths/diaper bag? Etc., etc. Sort of mind numbing stuff to anyone but a new mom, but topical and very important.
It’s great to share with and learn from other new moms and so comforting to know that they are going through the same frustrations and concerns that I am. Right from the start, there were a couple of moms in the group that I could see being very good friends with and I definitely enjoyed the social interaction and adult conversation!
If you are considering joining or starting a Mommy & Me playgroup, here are some things to consider:
Joining a Playgroup
Look for an already established club. Check bulletin boards in your pediatrician’s office for information about local playgroups, hang out at parks and the children’s section of your library and ask around about a group, check with local churches to see if they have a program for moms and kids.
Ask the manager of your favorite childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clothing, toy and furniture stores or enroll your child in groups such as Gymboree or Kindermusik and meet other mothers there.
Start Your Own Playgroup
If there is not a group in progress in your area, check with your stay at home mom friends to see if they are interested in getting together on a regular basis. If you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know any other stay at home moms, strike up a conversation with moms you see at the mall, park, or doctors office. Chances are, if they are there during office hours, they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t working during the day and would probably love the opportunity to meet other SAHMs.
Once you have found interested moms and kids, decide as a group how to organize your club. The larger the group, the more organization is needed to make things run smoothly. Here are some ideas for small groups:
Decide on a location for the group to meet. Informal groups usually meet in the homes of the members. Of course you would limit the number of children in each playgroup to no more than 4-6 in a home setting. More than that can bring more chaos than fun and the last thing a SAHM needs is more housework after her house has been turned upside down by a large group of children.
Decide on a day and time to meet. Meeting on a regular schedule will allow everyone to plan around the playgroup and therefore you will have greater participation.
Before you begin holding playgroups, meet with the other mothers to discuss parenting philosophies. Fewer problems will arise if everyone knows what is expected of their children in terms of behavior.
Discuss what refreshments the host mom will be expected to provide and what the other mothers should bring for the children.
Larger groups of mothers, more than 10, can plan a wider variety of activities. Some groups have officers, committees, and dues in order to provide these activities to the club.
Visiting a zoo, park, nature center, childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s museum, taking a tour of a farm or factory, or a childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s play place such as Discovery Zone are just some of the things the entire group can do together. Having holiday parties, providing crafts for the kids to do, and playing such childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s games as Ã¢â‚¬Å“London Bridges” and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Musical ChairsÃ¢â‚¬Â are things that can be done when the group meets in a gym or other large area.
Community service projects are something that a large group can carry out quite nicely. Including the children in these acts of service are a great way to show them how good it feels to help others. The possibilities in this area are endless but a couple of examples would be providing a battered womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shelter with the clothing your children have outgrown, volunteering to serve at a soup kitchen, or visiting with the elderly.
Joining a playgroup can help you and your children get the most out of these Ã¢â‚¬Å“at-homeÃ¢â‚¬Â years. It has definitely made a difference in mine.
Photo credit: JoshSchulz