I know that there are so many opinions on playgroups and I know that there are a lot of mums out there who just do not like them. Maybe because of the pain in the butt other children with their snotty noses and refusals to share the toys that your child oh so wants to play with. Or maybe because of the clicky mums making you feel like a loser with no friends. I get it, I really do get it.
When I had Zach, I pretty much felt the same. There was a local playgroup where we used to live and I took him on occasion. He absolutely loved it, whereas I dreaded it. I was always the one standing in the corner and when I did speak to someone, they were always a lawyer or something really clever, who lived in their own house in the posher part of the area, and it immediately made me feel a bit crap about myself! I guess back then, I was a new first time mum, and a lot of the confidence that I now find myself having is because I am a much more experienced mum and I try not to let that kind of thing get to me anymore.
And that’s why now I love playgroups. It doesn’t matter where they are – in scout huts, church halls, the children’s centres. If there is one in the morning, within walking distance of school, you’ll find me trying it out with Oscar. And so far it has come with such a huge success that it makes me feel that I am sometimes winning at this parenting thing (sometimes!). Here are the reasons I love playgroups.
Oscar loves them
He does, he really does. As soon as he is taken into the room, he is off to play with all the different things there are to do. Building blocks, cars, musical instruments. All of the stuff he has at home but seems to find more thrilling at a playgroup because it’s not his!
They are great to get him social
By his age, Zach had been going to nursery for a good few months. At first he was there one day a week and then that was upped to two.
Oscar doesn’t have that. Yes he has the benefit of me being at home, something that Zach sadly didn’t get, but I really feel like nursery was a big help in making Zach the sociable little boy that he is. For Oscar, playgroup is like a nursery. It is an hour and a half where he gets to play alongside other children of all different ages, learn about sharing, co-operating and making friends. And quite often it is gorgeous to watch! And then when it’s song time at the end, he is the happiest bean (unless it’s a nursery rhyme that he doesn’t want to hear and then he shakes his head and moans!).
They are great to get me social
I don’t know a huge amount of people around my area, but slowly, I am meeting more and more. People that I would stop in the street and have a chat to, and ones that I see regularly at groups where we catch up, talk about the kids and just have a proper natter. I am not shy in coming forwards now and regularly find myself in conversations with a group of mums that I don’t know – something that you would have never seen me do back when I had toddler Zach. Alongside that aspect, I also get given tea and snacks at a couple of them, which is always a win!
He gets to do the messy play that I find so hard to do!
Oscar loves messy play. Zach was never a fan of it, always moaning if he got his hands dirty (he still does!). Oscar on the other hand – he is in there! Just this week at our regular children’s centre group, he was in there doing hand-print painting, sticking pretty things on paper, and playing with some farm animals in shaving foam. He is drawn to the painting table and drawn to the water table outside. And if there is a tuff spot full of rice and pasta, he is there making a mess with it. I am thinking of investing in a tuff spot to try and do this stuff at home with him a bit more, but for now, playgroup is the perfect place for this!
They are a perfect build up to nap time
If we go home straight after the school run, Oscar tends to be really unhappy about it and I find myself clock watching to see when I need to get him in his pram and out for his nap. All of the groups that we go to are in the mornings, tending to finish around 11 – 11.30 which is perfectly timed for his nap. It’s a case of pop him in the pushchair and he usually falls asleep on the way home, leaving me with a chunk of time to sit and write blog posts like this one (he was fast asleep downstairs!).
I rarely got to do them with Zach
I often get hit with the mum guilt when I think about the fact that I barely got to do any of this stuff with Zach. I was at work full time and he was looked after by nursery and my Mum. At the beginning when I only worked three days, I managed to do our baby sensory class and another group, but I was soon back full time and so I got to do nothing unless I had a day off. So I feel like playgroups are a bit of a luxury that I never had before. That I need to enjoy and make the most of because this time I actually get to do it. Get to enjoy watching my littlest boy enjoying every aspect of them.
And that’s it. There is my love of playgroups. Call me a weirdo, or agree entirely! I would love to know if you are a playgroup lover or hater!!