Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playgroup good grief

I should have known it would happen as soon as I saw the e-mail.

I subscribe to an e-mail listserv for parents in my area of the city. It's been useful for various things: getting rid of our moving boxes without resorting to throwing them away, getting recommendations for classes, and the like. What it has not been useful for--and this is a surprise--is finding some small playgroup for Nate. Okay, let's be honest--finding some small playgroup for me.

At age not-even-eleven-months, Nate just isn't that interested in playing with other babies. He's happy to watch other kids, especially bigger kids, and he doesn't mind being around other babies. His actual play, though, takes place alone. I think all the experts say that, at this age, babies will play beside each other, but they won't really begin to interact in their play for several more months.

But still, I would love to get together with other moms to socialize, and just let the kids play. And I do get together with a couple of different moms on a pretty regular basis, just one on one. There's nothing scheduled or regular, though, and I sort of wish there were. What can I say? I like predictability and routine.

So yesterday when an e-mail came through the listserv from a mom looking to start a playgroup for her eleven-month-old son, I replied.

You'd think it would be a fairly simple thing to get a few moms together with their kids on a semi-regular basis for an hour or so. But there are a couple of risks involved in responding to these sorts of playgroup-formation e-mails. First, someone is always a working mom who wants to meet on the weekends. This does me no good whatsoever. On the weekends, I can already hang out with other adults, and with my husband in particular. The last thing I want to do is take away from the little bit of time that David, Nate and I can all hang out together by committing to some regular weekend playgroup.

(I would be a lot more sympathetic to the request for weekend playgroups if we were talking about older kids. Who actually, you know, play together. But I don't think baby playgroups are really for the babies themselves, but rather for the moms. And if you're a working mom, don't you already get plenty of adult interaction at work?)

Second, someone always wants to set something up during the week, but wants to send her kid to playgroup with the nanny. Again, no big deal if we were talking about lessons or team sports or something that's really and truly for the kids, but it just makes for an awkward situation when it's a small playgroup meeting in people's homes for a handful of babies who are just going to sit around and bang their own toys.

Oof. I realize how completely spoiled and snobbish this must sound, as if I don't want to hang out with working mothers or, worse, the help, but that's not it at all. What it really comes down to is this: Being a stay-at-home mom is often really lonely and really isolating. I want, nay, need some regular adult interaction during the week with people I'll enjoy talking to. Instead, my last two playgroup attempts have resulted in weekend meetings or suggested weekend meetings or offers to send a tot over to my house next time with his babysitter.

Seriously, how do you just find a little group of other moms? I feel like I will be asking for trouble if I put my parameters in a request to the listserv, but I don't know what else to do, short of crossing my fingers and hoping a small clutch of moms-of-nearly-one-year-olds falls into my lap.

What would you do?


Rachael said...

I went to meetup.com and found a couple of moms groups in my area that looked like I would like. You could try that...

hopeforcambodia said...

Does your church do a playgroup? All the local churches here, do. There is a church just down the road that has a bi-weekly playgroup. I haven't been, yet - waiting for cold and flu season to end - but I do go to our church's one when we meet.

Our libraries also do activities for babies - anything like that for you?

Dr. Maureen said...

I came over to recommend the library, but I see hopeforcambodia already did! So I second it. But here's the thing: You have to be unafraid to approach another mom and introduce yourself and ask if she wants to get together. Maybe not scary for you, but scary for many. It's always nice to suggest meeting at a park for the first get together because no one is trapped at someone's house if it turns out you don't click. But yes, the library. I've made two friends there!

Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant said...

ditto the meetup AND church playgroup suggestions.

Doc Maureen suggestion is good, but.... scary. <> lol, i hate how finding mom friends is like dating. i got married so i didn't have to deal with that stress! :-p

also, i totally understand your playgroup "requirements" - esp the WOHM/weekend thing. while i have problem being friends with those mamas, my weekends are family/husband time. 'nuff said.

you might want to reconsider the nanny thing tho... as someone who nannied a little girl while also watching my own son (they were 4 mo apart), i don't think it would be as awkward as it seems? honestly, it has the potential to go both ways.

and hi :) i stumbled over here from arwen and ashley's blogs :) nice to "meet" you!

Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant said...

eek. "NO problem" being friends with WAHMamas! i'm not a jerk, promise!

Laura said...

Lurker that just had to comment on this one. :)

Please be nice to the WOHM's - we want mom friends too! Yes, there is plenty of adult interaction at work, but we still want to have that connection with other moms too! SAHM, WAHM, WOHM I don't really care if we get along. :)

Some of my closest friends are SAHM's, I'm glad that they are willing to occasionally accommodate time on their weekends!

Sarah in Ottawa said...

Late to this party (you know the reason why) but I want to chime in and echo the library/parish idea. I'm in a Familia group and I've met amazing Moms there and through some of the ministries in our parish. And the storytimes at the library are a great spot.

Also - chatting with Moms at the park is great. Or if you have a community association with a maven (this is vital -- that role was played by our real estate agent) they can direct you to other Moms in the area.

The Meaghers said...

Long time reader...first time commenter!? :)
Alexandria 1st ward has a play group that meets every week! I think on Tuesdays. Since you live in our ward boundaries, you would get to know some of your neighbors too! I think most of the kiddos come with their moms. Anyhow, if you are interested I can pass your email along to the playgroup coordinator.
-Holly Meagher

AmyRobynne said...

MOMS Club Intl exists for this purpose -- it's been great for me to find other super-local moms.