Our family moved to a new community when my daughter was 14 months old. It was tough to be a stay at home mom and figure out how to meet new people. I decided to try a local LeLeche League meeting. My daughter and I had a solid breastfeeding relationship going (and yes, she was a nursing toddler). I just felt drawn to meet other mothers in similar situations. One of the best finds from attending this meeting was hearing about a Wednesday playgroup. I got the information and called the woman who organized the activities.
It was fall season, but the group of moms and toddlers meet every Wednesday morning for two hours with varied activities each week. One week they would do an outdoor adventure, one week they would meet at someone’s home and play with the toys there, and the other two weeks of the month, they would meet at a preschool room of a local church. Such a schedule evolved, as the mothers wanted to avoid spending time at the local McDonalds during those months of poor weather! They meet at local parks during the summer months.
At first, I wondered what a playgroup would be like – would I get to talk with other mothers and visit about parenting ideas? Would my child make new friends and learn different social skills than she got when we were home alone? I soon realized these were high expectations. At the playgroup gatherings those first few months I had to stay pretty close to my daughter as she wanted that more than playing with other children. More than once I wondered if we were getting anything out of it, but the chance to interact with other families made me keep going back each week. Slowly, as my daughter grew up and her confidence blossomed, she was able to play on her own or with others. The mothers could talk a little until a fight broke out about toys, or a child began to do something dangerous.
I began to see it as a new fact of life that seldom were sentences (yet alone conversations) completed without interruptions from children’s needs. The same group continued to meet weekly and time passed into years of attending playgroup. The children watched each other grow up, learned from one another, and the mother’s friendships deepened. As new families would join, we could learn from one another, hear different perspectives on parenting, and see the diversity in children’s behaviors (that was helpful for me – the mother of one!).
One five-year old boy told his mom, “The play is for the kids and the group is for the moms.” He was sure correct on this, as the playgroup gatherings were like a form of therapy and sanity for us all. It’s been seven years now and although schools have forced us apart, our playgroup still comes together for social gatherings several times a year! I’ve been grateful and thankful for this group of families helping me along my parenting journey.