8 Simple Rules for Starting a Playgroup
1. Before asking other moms to form a playgroup with you, ask yourself the following questions: What are you looking for in a playgroup? The answer will be different for everyone. Are you looking for diversity (for yourself or your children)? Would you rather meet like-minded parents? Would a group of formerly professional women, women who work part-time, moms over 40, women whose husbands travel, or single moms work better for you? What about a group for stay-at-home dads? Would you like same-aged kids, families with multiples, families with adopted children, bilingual families, and kids with special needs? Or are you looking for a group with similar or different socioeconomic, ethnic, religious backgrounds, and parenting styles?
2. Once you've determined your needs, think about parents you already know. Call one or two moms and invite them over for a playtime and brainstorming session.
3. Start small. If you have one child and each of the three moms you invite has one child, you will have a manageable group.
4. Decide on a place and time to meet. In warmer months, you could try a park, beach, or field at a planned time. Often, mornings are the best time to meet with toddlers, since the older kids are in school.
5. If you're hosting the group at your home, provide a few simple snacks (and always check for food and nut allergies). And, of course, coffee (remember the decaf, especially for nursing moms). Guests could each bring something to share or simply be responsible for their own snack.
6. If you don't know any moms in your neighborhood, ask your doctor's office or spiritual center to connect you with other mothers. Walk around with the kids and meet your neighbors. Go to the local coffee shop or park. You will undoubtedly meet someone who would be thrilled to join you.
7. Once you've invited the moms and agreed to form a playgroup, pick a time and location for the group. Later, you can rotate a schedule to meet in each others' homes. After the group is established, think about creating a phone list and a schedule. Discuss whether or not you'd like the host to provide the snacks, if everyone should bring a shared snack, or if you'd like to collect "dues" for snacks and crafts. Decide how the group will invite new members. Perhaps whoever hosts the group could invite a newcomer each week.
8. If your playgroup focuses primarily on moms, think about including the dads once in awhile so they can get to know each other, too. Host a Friday night barbeque in the summer or a potluck in the winter.