Mum and baby playgroups are an excellent opportunity to meet other like minded mums in your local area. At least, that’s the idea. And your little one gets to ‘socialise’ with other similar aged babies. Or does she?
I’ve been going to a playgroup in my local area once a week since my baby was around four months old. My family’s not around, I didn’t have any mummy friends near me, so I was really looking forward to getting out of the house and meet mums who live in the same area. I was a new mum, and I genuinely thought that I would meet the perfect circle of new mummy friends. Oh, how wrong was I.
It’s not been all bad though. There are good, and there are bad points about baby groups. Let me share with you my experience with playgroups.
You probably won’t find new mummy friends immediately
Yes, you may be lucky and hit it off with someone right away, but the chances are slim. You may have few things in common. You’ve given birth, had a baby around the same time, deal with similar issues, such as sleep deprivation, but that’s about it. You will realise that there are more differences than similarities between you and some of the other mums. You just now right away, that you wouldn’t be friends in life outside the group environment.
So, when you hear all this sweet talk about how you should go to baby playgroups to make new mummy friends, remember that it’s a bit exaggerated.
The fact that I am not exactly an extroverted person probably didn’t help the situation either. It takes time for me to open up to someone and build a friendship. It took me several months to become a good friend with another mum from the group, and we now enjoy regular days out together with our daughters. So going to playgroups paid off eventually.
Your baby may not enjoy playgroups – at first
My baby always seemed to be the only one who would cry and demand constant attention after about ten minutes of playing nicely on her own. All the other children appeared to be just so easy going.
It wasn’t unusual for us to leave after half an hour, as my baby was so distressed. While other mums were happily breast or bottle feeding their babies when they became upset, I couldn’t comfort my little one this way. It was just too noisy, and she usually refused to feed in loud surroundings. So, I always made sure she is fed and rested before we went to playgroup, but still, she probably found the environment too much to bear after a while.
Why didn’t I quit going when clearly my baby wasn’t enjoying these groups all that much? Well, I thought I’ll give it a little bit more time; for her to get used to being around other people and kids. So, in the beginning, we were just going for short periods. It did get better eventually, and now my baby even seems to be enjoying playgroups.
That being said, she isn’t exactly at that age yet, when she plays with other children, never mind makes friends. There isn’t much interaction amongst babies, apart from occasional hair pulling, toy throwing or head smacking, but hey, they have to learn how to interact with others somehow, right?
You won’t have much chance to struck up a proper conversation
I think it’s pretty obvious from the previous point that having a normal conversation with other mums was almost impossible at times. Especially at the beginning. We would come in, get settled on the floor and my little one would play with few toys. That would give me a chance to say hello to other mums and exchange maybe a few more sentences before the baby has decided that she’s had enough. Off I went to pick her up to comfort her, many times to no avail.
I would just look at other mums happily chatting together, occasionally some child would sob a bit, but my little one always took the lead. On occasion, I even felt embarrassed. I got these looks sometimes, like ‘can’t you just control your child? or I think it’s time to take her home now’. Not the best situation to be in. And certainly not in a position to have a meaningful conversation.
You may be left feeling inadequate sometimes
Time for some comparison game. You will likely meet mums that are super competitive and like to boast about every single new skill their little darlings acquire. ‘Your baby isn’t sitting yet? How old is she, eight months? Mine sat on her own since five months old.
There was this one mum, who just talked and talked about all the stuff her baby could do. Little Abigail could sit, play on her own, clap her hands, eat solids since four months old. You may even start to question your parenting abilities and feel like you are failing big time.
Remember, you are not failing. Just because your baby isn’t as advanced as little Abigail is, doesn’t mean you need to question your parenting skills. Babies learn new skills when they are ready, and it varies from baby to baby. Astonishing, I know. Once you see the big picture, you’ll be able to look at these situations with an open mind and also take some of the statements of this super competitive mum with a grain of salt.
You will learn about other events and activities for you and your baby through baby groups
If for some reason or other, you don’t like your current playgroup, you can easily find out about other activities, different playgroups in neighbouring areas, baby events and courses through the group organisers or other mums in your group. There are courses for first aid, healthy lifestyle, baby massage, swimming lessons for babies and much much more to keep you and your baby busy. You’ll hear from other mums’ first-hand experience about courses they like or dislike.
Plenty of choices. You can also try few different playgroups to see which one suits you and your baby best. I constantly get new leaflets about events and activities in my area or ideas about what other groups the mums go to. So, I’ve been able to attend few other baby courses as well.
Would I do it all again?
Absolutely yes. It’s not been exactly what I expected it to be, but it still gave me a chance to socialise and meet people outside my house. I’ve struck up a great friendship with mum, with whom I have more in common than just having a baby around the same time.
If you are new to your area, or you don’t have your family or friends around, then I would definitely give your local playgroups a try. What have you got to lose?
Any questions or comments? Leave them below.