I just had a baby and now my life is complete. But where the heck are my friends?
I had just moved across the country when my first little boy was born. With two major life changes in one fell swoop, I felt as though my life was completely turned upside down. I was new to this Stay at Home Mom thing, and I was lonely. I looked at my precious little bundle of joy and said, “Well, kiddo. Now what do we do?”
I turned to Google and typed in “playgroups in my area". I know it sounds corny and cliche, but through joining a playgroup, I have met lifelong friends. I eventually even wanted to become a playgroup leader.
Five years later, and serendipitously, my best friend and I were having our second baby boys just weeks apart. Already knowing the ropes of playgroup leadership, we joined forces to co-lead a new playgroup for our littlest ones.
How to Start a Playgroup
We started with a mission. Having a playgroup mission sets the tone and atmosphere of your group. Decide what you want from a playgroup. Will it be strictly social, educational or a support system?
Our playgroup mission: “We strive to maintain a kind and supportive parenting environment. Our playgroup focus is to be friendly, be active in our community, and most of all have fun with our kids!”
Decide who to include. Determine the age range of kids to perhaps include babies, older and younger siblings, just preschoolers, or maybe it will be an all ages group.
Plan what days, what time, and how often you will meet. We arbitrarily picked a day of the week we both liked for our weekly playgroup, but are flexible and may change according to a specific activity.
Now the fun part - planning playgroup activities! We meet at different locations such as local parks, friends’ homes and kid-friendly spots around town. Being mindful of keeping costs down, finding freebies is essential. We tend to stay local but sometimes set up road trip playgroups a little further from home. With babies and toddlers, crafts and structured activities can be difficult, so we keep it simple and simply let the kids play. Some easy activities we have planned were bubble parties, tricycle parades and BYOB (Bring Your Own Ball).
By far, the most popular activity we plan each month for our playgroup is Moms‘ Night Out. Need I elaborate as to why?
Communication is key in keeping playgroup members in the loop. Set up a playgroup email, create a private Facebook group, use evites, Google Calendar or good old fashioned phone calls. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, just whatever works best for your playgroup.
Our playgroup started off with just me, my best friend and our two babies. After some time, we grew through word of mouth and had business cards made up with our contact email address to keep in our diaper bags. Yes, it was a little bit like “Mom dating.”
The needs of our playgroup will change, and eventually will fizzle as our babies start preschool and kindergarten (Gulp!). However, I know some of my kids’ friendships and my own will last a lifetime.
Now Go Play!
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