Starting Your Own Playgroup
Want to start your own playgroup? Here are some tips to get you going:
- Location is Everything: Look for moms and kids in your own neighborhood. That way travel is easy, as is setting up playdates with your kids' new friends.
- Schedule: Find the best time for everyone. Try to avoid scheduling meetings at the end of the day when toddlers may be getting tired or hungry. Stick to your schedule as best you can; if it becomes flexible, confusion can set in and momentum may be lost.
- Numbers: Try to form a group of about four to six kids. Remember that every kid comes with a parent, so five kids means 10 people will be at each meeting; too many people could be chaotic. Too few kids, on the other hand, can result in one-on-one play if the third child is unable to attend.
- Mix it Up: Try to find a nice balance of boys and girls. Don't be afraid to have kids of different ages join either. Younger kids will "play up" to their older friends.
- Great Minds: Look for compatible parents who share your values and discipline style. Finding the right mix will help create a happy group of toddlers. You might want to set up a couple of trial sessions to get a feel for everyone's chemistry.
- Ground Rules: As a group, come up with a set of rules and guidelines. Rules for the group may include a clearly defined method of discipline and what type of behavior is considered off limits. You may want to insist that if any kids are sick, or even recovering from an illness, they cannot participate in that week's playgroup.
- Bad Days: Remember that everyone has off days. Don't feel bad or embarrassed if your child is cranky or misbehaves on occasion. Everyone gets irritable once in a while, even you!
- Take Turns: Just as your kids need to share and take turns, so do you. Make sure that the group rotates responsibilities. If you're going to meet in people's homes, make sure everyone hosts. Also make sure moms take turns supplying the snacks and drinks.
What if I don't know any other moms? If you don't know enough parents to form a group, you may want to try spending some time at your nearest park or play area; you're bound to meet other parents there. Think about taking a mother and child class at a local community center, or through a company like Gymboree. You can also call your local hospital or community center for more information about free support groups for new moms.