Joining a Playgroup: Advice for Shy (and Not-So-Shy) Moms

PDF
Print
E-mail

Many parents want to join a playgroup, but find the idea of approaching other parents at the park or joining a group of strangers daunting. It’s okay to be cautious, but don’t let shyness keep you from joining a playgroup. Instead, use these tips to make the experience easier for you and your child.

First, search for a playgroup at SocialToddler.com and in the calendar section of your local newspaper. Also check with area pediatricians, churches, libraries, Chambers of Commerce and hospitals. If you cannot find an existing playgroup, then try searching for a local chapter of a national organization, such as MOMS Club, MOPS and Mothers & More.

Once you have found a local group, initiate contact via email or phone. During the conversation, ask questions about the playgroup. In addition to the day, time and location, you may want to find out the ages of the children, the number of children and parents, what activities they do, and any membership requirements, such as bringing your own snacks or paying membership dues. Communicating with a member should make you feel more comfortable and eager about visiting.

Finally, once you have found a playgroup to visit, here are a few ways to make the visit less intimidating:

 

  • Ask a friend to go with you. Even if she is not interested in joining, at least you won’t feel all alone during this first visit.

  • Talk to the playgroup leader over the phone so you will know her a little better. You will likely feel more comfortable if someone at playgroup greets you by name even if the two of you have not actually met yet.

  • Perhaps ask her to meet you in advance at another location so you can follow her to the designated meeting place. This will accomplish two things: You won’t have to worry about following directions to the location if you are new to the area, and you will get to the playgroup already having met at least one person. That should alleviate some of the stress.

  • If it will make you feel better, prepare an excuse in advance so that you can leave early if necessary. Plan an errand or event that will be easy to cancel or postpone if you end up staying, but mention it when you arrive. Perhaps plan to meet your husband for lunch, or finish cleaning the house before weekend guests arrive, or run to the store before the baby's lunchtime. Any excuse will be fine as long as you are honest and you mention it early in the visit.

  • As difficult as it may be, try to join in the conversations. If they talk about a recent field trip to the zoo or a moms’ night out at a local bistro, you could mention how much your child likes the giraffes at the zoo or how you and your husband have talked about going to the same restaurant.

  • You could also start a conversation with someone. Ask another mom about her child, where she lives, what her husband does, what she did before she had children or married, what she does now if she works, etc. The only way to make friends is to get to know them. Don't monopolize the conversation, but do share some information about yourself, too.

  • Be understanding and tolerant of other children as well as your own child. Your child will likely cling to you during the first visit. This is normal. Don’t push him to join the other children if he feels more comfortable with you. Instead, go with him to the playroom to select a few toys to play with near you.

  • Visit the group at least twice, preferably three times, before making a final decision to join or not. Playgroup will likely feel awkward the first time, but after a couple of visits, you may discover that you have a few things in common with these other parents after all. Besides, it may take three visits for your child to get comfortable in the new surroundings, for the faces to look familiar to him, and for him to realize that you will not leave him there.

 

By preparing in advance, you can attend a new playgroup with confidence. If you decide to join, great! You and your child are in for a lot of fun. On the other hand, if you decide that this group is not for you, move on and look for another one. That next playgroup may be just the one for you.



About the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups. A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded four successful playgroups and one homeschool support group as well as helped start countless other playgroups around the world via OnlinePlaygroup.com.