New parents often think that playgroups are all about giving the kids much-needed ‘socialization time’ before they get the opportunity to make friends in a school setting. I too held this misconception until I learned just how valuable playgroups are for helping moms give and receive the social and emotional support that is so often lacking in our hurried American culture.
My twins and I have been attending the same playgroup since they were just a few months old. We are now approaching our fourth-year anniversary as a playgroup, and have been meeting at each other’s homes every week for over two-hundred weeks! Unlike a book club, or an occasional playdate, or even a “Mom’s Night Out” event through the local parents club, our playgroup has been a source of constant contact, comfort, and community support for my girlfriends and our children.
Not only have we seen each other during our most sleep-deprived and hormonal early mothering days when we were all just trying to survive day by day, we have also shepherded each other through breast cancer, miscarriage, new babies, marital challenges, kids’ illnesses, moves away and back again, and much, much more. Our children have grown up witnessing a strong camaraderie among mothers, and have learned to lean on us grown-ups as ‘aunties’ or second moms. Our family playgroup vacations have now become a tradition, and proof that having thirteen kids under one roof takes a village to keep each other sane!
We’ve talked about feeling fortunate that our group of moms just ‘clicked’, even though the circumstances that brought us together over four years ago were completely random and unplanned. I’ve heard of some playgroups that didn’t work due to personality conflicts, clashes in parenting style, or perhaps just because there wasn’t enough momentum to keep it going. Even though we don’t always agree with one another, we do agree to support each other in our lives, celebrate each other’s triumphs, and help pick each other up along the bumpy road of parenting. Perhaps it was our commitment to ‘showing up’ for each other as adults, and not just for our kids, that has kept our playgroup alive and thriving for so long. I’m not sure what the ‘magic formula’ is, but if I could bottle it up and sell it online I think it would be a hit! I’ve often thought about starting a parent-centered Match.com, the popular online dating site where my husband and I met each other, since meeting other parents or setting up playdates for like-minded kids is just so random. But that’s another post entirely.
I hope other moms realize that they too can find a source of connection and community for each other through playgroup, since parenting kids needs to be much more than just about keeping things fun for kids. Sometimes parents need to have fun, too! We can also help our kids learn by example the art of making new friends and keeping friendships alive, instead of just telling them how to do it.
Do you have a playgroup that supports you as a parent? If not, check out your local parent’s club for information on how to join a playgroup or start one of your own.