When my daughter started preschool at the beginning of the year, one of her teachers came to meet with us and introduce herself to my girl. She asked me questions about Abigail’s developmental and social milestones.
One of the questions was about her social interactions with other kids. Does she play nice?
Yes! She does. Why? Because we’ve been going to a weekly playgroup since before she was born.
You probably don’t need me to tell you the benefits of having an organized playgroup, but since you’re here, I’m going to tell you anyway!
Every week, a group of us moms get together and watch our little ones play. Most of us are stay at home moms (or work at home moms), so this socializing is important for OUR wellbeing and mental health. Seriously.
But luckily play group is good for the kids too. They learn basic fundamental skills, like sharing, making friends, playing nice, including, and consequences for poor actions (like hitting and fighting). We deal with anger management and calming techniques. The kids know that even though Jimmy took my ball and Suzy hit me with her bear, we can apologize, communicate and still be friends. It’s wonderful for their emotional growth!
So how do we do this? Here are a few tips for having a successful playgroup (that benefits both moms and kids!):
Be consistent – Have your playgroup the same time and day every week. That way everyone just knows it’s happening. An unintended benefit of having a consistent playgroup day is that kids learn time management. They know playgroup is on Tuesday, and they have something to look forward to. So when they ask, “Is it playgroup today?” You can say, no, today is Thursday, and walk them through your activities for the rest of the week. This was how my son learned the days of the week. Sunday was for church, Monday was for Family Night. Tuesday was play group, Wednesday was story time, Friday was Pizza Night, and Saturday was the day Dad got to be home from work! (Yeah, I skipped Thursday. There was nothing exciting that day.) If you don’t want to commit to a weekly playgroup, have it the first Wednesday of the month, etc.
Bring snacks – Everyone is responsible for bringing snacks for their own kids. Occasionally a “rogue” toddler will wonder over to a different mom and beg for a goldfish cracker from them because his aren’t nearly as good. (My kid was totally that rebel for a really long time.) And that’s ok! It will make your play group experience so much more fun if you have a few snacks to keep you and your kids happy.
Have a designated location – During the summer, this is so much easier to do. You pick a park and everyone meets there to enjoy the sun and the playground equipment. Don’t forget the sunscreen! During the winter, however, things get tricky. We’re lucky enough to use a room at our church. You could rotate having it at people’s houses or see if there’s a community room at the library you can reserve.
Have everyone help clean up – when the fun is over and it’s time to go, many hands make the work light. It’s general practice that all the kids help clean up. This teaches them responsibility for their actions. And if you have playgroup at someone’s house, it means they won’t dread inviting you back next time because they know everyone will pitch in to help!
Communicate – Set up a Facebook group or a group text to communicate with everyone involved. Some days the weather isn’t great, so you have to go to your indoor location. Somedays you need someone else to open up the building, or someone needs help with something. It’s a great idea to communicate and remind people of playgroup. These women will become very important in your life, so it’s good to have their contact info on hand.
We’ve had great success with our playgroup. We’ve been doing this for about five years, so things are working nicely now. It took us a little while to get everyone moving just the right way. So try things out and see what works best for your group.
And if you want a group just for moms, check out these tips on how to start a successful book club.