If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad, chances are you are feeling a little isolated. As much fun as a baby or toddler is, they aren’t the most stimulating conversationalists in the world. That’s why many parents turn to playgroups. Playgroups provide parents with much-needed adult companionship and toddlers with opportunities to learn social skills. Can’t find one in your area? Here are some tips for starting your own.
What You Are Looking For?
Not everyone wants the same thing when it comes to a playgroup. Maybe you want to get together with parents of babies for stroller walks and advice on setting sleep schedules. Maybe you want to give your toddler an opportunity to socialize with others. Being honest with yourself will help when it comes to advertising your group and selecting members.
Indoors, Outdoors or Both
Where do you want to meet up? Toddlers are happy anywhere, but you should establish a regular meeting spot. Some groups enjoy rotating between members’ houses. Others like meeting at playgrounds. If you attend a local church that doesn’t have an established playgroup, see if you can meet there. Parents living in Marvida can meet up at clubhouses, pools, parks and splash pads.
Set Dates and Times
Prospective members should know if the playgroup will be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly and how long it will last. An hour to 90 minutes is plenty of time for parents to talk before toddlers start getting cranky. When deciding on a meeting time, take naps into account. Most babies and toddlers do better after they’ve had a chance to sleep.
While it’s tempting to leave membership open-ended, that might not be the best policy. The more parents and toddlers meeting up, the more chaos there can be. Think about how much space you will have. If you meet at individual homes, four or five children are generally more than enough. Meetings at parks and playgrounds can accommodate more families.
Rules are Important
Set ground rules before your first playgroup meeting. Will parents be expected to bring snacks to share, or will everyone be responsible for bringing their own? Ditto for toys. How do parents handle disciplining misbehaving children? Will you allow them to discipline yours if they see something you don’t? What will be the policy if you can’t make it or have to cancel the meeting? What about when a child is ill?
Once you have an idea how the group will run, it’s time to recruit members. Social media or creating a Meetup group is an easy way to go. The disadvantage is that you may be meeting up with a group of strangers who don’t share your parenting values. Consider seeking out neighbors with toddlers or parents that attend toddler story time at your local library. If your toddler seems to seek out a particular child, suggest a play date. If that goes well, suggest starting a playgroup.
Meet with parents before bringing the children together. See if there is chemistry. Establish rules and guidelines. This allows parents to decide if they want to join before introducing children into the mix. Suggest a trial run. If everything works out, congratulations — you’ve formed a playgroup.