I honestly believe every new mother should be handed a playgroup’s handout the minute their child is born. Playgroups are much more than just a group of moms and kids hanging out to pass the time, they are a tool for parental survival mode, as well as playful bonding for your kids to plant the seeds of learning valuable skills such as sharing, compassion, language and active play.
I know firsthand that the moment I discovered the power of a playgroup is when my life as a stay-at-home mom became much more enjoyable because I had something to look towards to every week. I instantly knew that group of moms and kids would become my much-needed support system for years to come, especially since we had no family living anywhere near us. These playgroups became our family. These kids became the kids my girl first had crawling races with; the kids she first had a this-is-mine-tug-of-war with; the kids she spoke her first words to.
As a first-time mom we are learning and being bombarded with so much information at the same time that we may leave the task of actively finding a playgroup to a later time. I urge you to find or create one as soon as possible.
Three Easy Tips to Find or Create a Playgroup
Join your local Moms Club. This was really the main starting point for me. I found out that my neighborhood had a local Moms Club, and I sent in a submission to join. The cost usually ranges around $30 per year, but it´s well worth it. Most Moms Clubs offer email discussion groups, which provide invaluable local resources, as well as mom´s night out opportunities and, the most valuable for me, the option to be placed in a small playgroup with children in the same age range as yours.
Search Meetup.com for a group in your area. The beauty about meetup.com is that you can get as specific as you like in your search, and if you can´t find the type of playgroup you are looking for, you can easily create your own. Maybe you want to immerse your child in a second language as early as possible to reap the benefits, then you can search for “Spanish-speaking moms in Atlanta” or “bilingual tots in Denver,” for example.
Join local Mommy and Me classes. If you can make a slight investment, then you can enroll your child in one of the many Mommy and Me classes available all over. Be it in music, dance, art, parenting or such, the best place to look for one is an internet search and bulletin boards in local baby stores, parks, churches and doctor’s offices. The beauty of mommy and me classes is that the kids are usually the same age range-something which is vital to a playgroup’s success. Once you meet the other moms in the class it will be much easier for you to take the initiative to extend the relationship and organize meet ups at parks or homes.
Once you’ve found or created your own playgroup you will have to get creative as to places to meet and activities to keep everyone involved and active.
7 Ideas for Playgroup Activities
- Parks are always the best option because children are free to play around and moms can relax and enjoy each other. Just make sure you find a fenced in park in a secure location so you don’t spend half your time running off after your wandering toddler.
- Indoor playgrounds are getting more and more popular and offer a perfect refuge from the cold and rain. Also, many indoor playgrounds have scheduled activities, such as story time and live music.
- Hiking trails are perfect for moms with infants since they can be pushed in a jogging stroller or carried in a pouch. I know I lost most of my post-natal calories thanks to these hikes! Being in nature is also very soothing for infants.
- Mommy and Me movies were our favorite thing to do before our girls started to crawl. They are just so fun because for many moms this is the only chance we get to watch a new movie and not care if your baby is screaming for milk because he will not be the only one and no one cares.
- Once you’ve become acquainted with all members of your playgroup, you can open up your home and rotate among members to host. Older children love having friends over to their house, and it also gives them an opportunity to flex their sharing muscles.
- Story time at a local library affords the luxury of having a regular meeting point and an indoor refuge for when weather is grey.
- Many museums have indoor spaces with creative activities to accommodate children. Some museums even have special programs where kids and one parent can become members for free and visit as much as they like.
Do you belong to a playgroup? What are some of your tips to making the most out of the playgroup experience?
Ana L. Flores is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby.com, a community and resource for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children.