Playgroups: Not Just Kid Stuff

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Being a mom can sometimes be isolating. Playgroups offer a uniquely supportive environment where moms and children can make friends and enrich their families’ lives. 

Friday mornings, no matter how inclement the weather, frazzled my nerves, or uncooperative my little darlings, I bundled our weary bones into the car and hit the gas.

Once at my destination, I was embraced with hot coffee, warm banana bread, and soothing friendship. My war stories were heard (“I had just changed her and she threw up all over her new sweater!”), my frustrations acknowledged (“He sat down right on the unfolded laundry and said, ‘Whew, am I beat! What’s for dinner?'”).

Together, we watched our children play and fight and whine and cry, just like they did at home. Yet somehow, alongside each other, it wasn’t so tedious. Three hours later, armed with a full tummy, a nurtured soul, and a fresh perspective, I knew I was not alone. I could face another week of parenting.

This priceless, rejuvenating respite was not found at a spa. It was available right in my own backyard. It was my neighborhood playgroup.

The Importance of Other Mommy Friends

When my daughters were tiny, our playgroup gave my now-grade-schoolers an opportunity to meet new friends, explore new surroundings, and hone their budding social skills. But even more importantly, playgroup gave me a safe,

Despite our differences, we shared a common bond: on a daily basis, we juggled the profound joy and lonely isolation of at-home parenting. Although playgroup was wonderful for our children, on occasion, even the dads, grandparents, in-town visitors, and caregivers joined us. But make no mistake about it. Playgroup was a lifesaver for this mom.

Join a Playgroup …

Before deciding to form my own playgroup, I had enthusiastically—but unsuccessfully—attempted joining lots of other groups. There was the Wednesday drop-in playgroup (too large), a previously established mom’s group (too exclusive), even a cooperative playgroup (too much work). Finally, two neighbors with same-aged children, with whom we had occasionally played, agreed to meet once a week. Over the next few months, two more moms joined us, then two more. We made coffee, ate bagels, gave out juice boxes. Then we took turns hosting. Next we created age-appropriate crafts for the kids. Then we designed a list with phone numbers, addresses, birthdates (of kids andmoms), emails, and husbands’ names. Without even trying, we had formed a neighborhood playgroup.

As weeks turned into months and years, we hosted potlucks and cookouts with our husbands. Our menus evolved from bagels and a carton of juice to spinach quiche and fruit platters. We cooked chickens for each other’s sick families. We threw birthday parties and snowballs, made pitchers of iced coffees and Margaritas, baked Valentine’s cupcakes and casseroles, soothed bloody lips and crying babies, changed wet diapers and soaked jeans, and made leaf piles and ornaments. We exchanged recipes and child-rearing philosophies. We discussed spirituality, politics, and marriage. We established a rich, nurturing community.

A few years ago, our playgroup adjusted to kindergarten schedules and new babies. We started meeting less frequently. Still, our bond remains. Each Friday morning, wherever my station wagon takes me, I raise my lukewarm coffee and gratefully acknowledge my playgroup pals. Without them, my parenting journey would be a much lonelier road.

… Or Start Your Own

If forming a neighborhood playgroup sounds like something you would enjoy, then read on. You will be giving yourself, your family, and your community an indispensable support system.

A celebration of the love and bond between parents and their babies.

I used to think I loved my husband. Good looks, wicked sense of humor, athletic body and incredibly smart—I thought I loved it all, the whole package. I was wrong.

My feelings for my husband have changed. Since the birth of our first child I’ve come to realize that I didn’t entirely love him before. I only loved part of him, the part that I could see. It was like being fifteen and thinking that kissing was the most exciting feeling in the world until you discovered true passion or enjoying the feel of water in the shower until you stood at the edge of the ocean and felt the waves crash around you. Seeing this man I’ve known for years be a daddy to our little girl, I realize that the big picture is just starting to come into focus and I’m seeing a side of my guy that makes me love and appreciate him even more.

In Your Eyes

The sandy hair, pug nose and tremendous smile that attracted me to my husband are even more beautiful reflected in the face of our daughter. She’s the spitting image of her daddy. When people comment how much they look alike, my favorite line is, “I did all the work and he gets all the credit!” But it’s just for laughs. I honestly adore the fact that they look alike, and I get a special little thrill as he grins and puffs up with pride when strangers notice the resemblance. He’s proud of her, and I in turn, am proud of them both. Now that she’s getting older, she’s begun to adopt some of his mannerisms too. It’s a crack up to see her make the same faces he makes when she doesn’t like something or laugh with the same silly grin. The sight of them together compels me to lean over, kiss the two of them and exclaim, “I love this face!”

Because moms tend to decide what our children wear, what they eat and which type of stroller is best, it’s easy for us to feel like our babies are little extensions of ourselves. Thank goodness for daddy’s dimples, his brown eyes or “that look” that was passed on to our babies to remind us how that precious little person is a part of the big person that we fell in love with long ago.

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