How to Start A PlaygroupCrystal Dupay
There are many benefits to joining a playgroup. Your children have the opportunity to form friendships and play with someone other than a sibling. It also gives us mothers a chance to get out of the house and actually speak to an adult other than the mail carrier. Adult conversation is so important to maintaining sanity when you are home with small children 24 hours a day. Within a playgroup you can find other mothers with whom to talk about things that others just don't understand. Sleeping problems, potty training, and sibling rivalry are just a few of the topics that I have discussed with my stay at home moms friends and have gained valuable insight. When I begin to feel like I'm failing as a mom, they are always there to provide support and reassurance. So how can you find these angels of mercy?
Joining a Playgroup
Look for an already established club. Check bulletin boards in your pediatricians office for information about local playgroups, hang out at the park and ask around about a group, check with local churches to see if they have a program for Moms and kids. Check with the manager of local children's clothing stores or enroll your child in a group such as Gymboree or Kindermusik and meet other mothers there.
Start Your Own Playgroup
If there is not a group in progress in your area, check with your stay at home moms friends to see if they are interested in getting together on a regular basis. If you don't know any other stay at home moms strike up a conversation with mom's that you see at the mall, park, or Drs. office. Chances are, if they are there during office hours, they aren't working during the day and would probably love the opportunity to meet other stay at home moms.
Once you have found interested moms and kids then you must decide as a group how to organize your club. Some groups are very informal and some are quite structured. The larger the group, the more organization is needed to make things run smoothly. Here are some ideas for small groups
Decide on a location for the group to meet. Informal groups usually meet in the homes of the members. Of course you would limit the number of children in each playgroup to no more than 4-6 in a home setting. More than that can bring more chaos than fun and the last thing a SAHM needs is more housework after her house has been turned upside down by a large group of children.
Decide on a day and time to meet. Meeting on a regular schedule will allow everyone to plan around the playgroup and therefore you will have greater participation.
Before you begin holding playgroups, you will want the mothers to meet and discuss parenting philosophies. Fewer problems will arise if everyone knows what is expected of their children in terms of behavior.
Discuss what refreshments the host mom will be expected to provide and what the other mothers should bring for the children.
Larger groups of mothers, more than 10, can plan a wider variety of activities. Some groups have officers, committees, and dues in order to provide these activities to the club. Below are some suggestions for groups of more than 10 mom's:
Meet with the mothers to decide on officers. If your club will charge dues, a treasurer will need to be selected and the group should vote on how the money is to be spent. The amount charged for dues will be directly related to how many activities are planned. One of the officers should be chosen to plan activities.
In a large group, the members will need to be divided into smaller playgroups if plans are to hold them in individual homes. The suggestions given above for smaller playgroups should be followed for these smaller subgroups. If the entire group intends to meet for play, a large gym or hall will need to be secured in order to accommodate everyone. Dues should be used to cover such expenses.
Field Trips and Activities
Visiting a children's museum, taking a tour of a farm or factory, or visiting a children's playplace such as Discovery Zone are just some of the things the entire group can do together. Having the typical holiday parties, providing crafts for the kids to do, and playing such children's games as "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Musical Chairs" are things that can be done when the group meets in a gym or other large area.
Some groups enjoy getting the mothers together without the children occasionally just to give them a break and enjoy some uninterrupted adult conversation. Meeting at a restaurant or seeing a movie together are a couple of ideas. Some groups plan weekend retreats for moms only.
Community service projects are something that a large group can carry out quite nicely. Including the children in these acts of service are a great way to show them how good it feels to help others. The possibilities in this area are endless but a couple of examples would be providing a battered women's shelter with the clothing your children have outgrown, volunteering to serve at a soup kitchen, or visiting with the elderly.
Joining a playgroup can help you and your children get the most out of these "at-home" years. It has definitely made a difference in mine.Crystal Dupay, the mother 3, has been home for just over a year and loves the opportunity to watch her girls grow everyday. She is active in the Moms & Tots group and also, through her home office, offers administrative support to her husband who has his own business. Visit Crystal's website, Main Street Mom at mainstreetmom.com
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