Bowing Out of Playgroup Gracefully

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“This playgroup is just not working out for me,” you say. “But how can I bow out gracefully?” Many parents have asked themselves the same question. Not every playgroup is just right for every parent and child. You may visit a group that just does not click for you, or you may decide after several meetings that you need to quit – for whatever reason. How do you drop out nicely? Here are some tips on how to get out while the getting's good!

Parents have many reasons for quitting playgroup. Another child is being a brat, your child is catching too many colds, the children are too wild, you have a personality conflict with another parent, or your schedule is just too busy right now. For whatever reason, you should bow out gracefully. You don't want hurt or angry feelings left behind, particularly if you live in a small town or a neighborhood; you're likely to see these people again at community events or even in kindergarten when your children start school.

The way you leave the playgroup, as with the way you quit a job, says a lot about you. Be adult. Don't skulk off, neglect to return calls, or just never show up again. Over the 10 years of our playgroup, we have had members quit after a few visits and even after a few months of participation. Some have just never returned our calls; we took the hint after a while. But how rude! I much prefer to be told that someone is leaving, even if it hurts my feelings just a little at the time. After all, not every playgroup is perfect for every family, so no one should be ashamed to say that this group was just not right for them or their child at this time.

Therefore, be courteous. Call the leader and let her know that you will no longer be participating. Do not send an email because you cannot convey tone of voice in an email. As a result, what may seem to be courteous as you write may have a different interpretation on the other end.

During the phone call, be prepared for questions and have your reasons ready. Give honest answers, but be diplomatic. Don't complain or be critical. Don’t blame the members for anything. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything specific at all.

To prevent misinterpretation, do not explain your reasons for quitting in detail. If possible, try to put a positive spin on the reasons why you are leaving the group. Perhaps you could mention that when the situation changes (child gets a little older and has learned to share or gets less frequent colds, or your schedule slows down a bit, etc.), you may return at a later date. Mention those who have made the experience pleasant and wish the playgroup well.

Don't leave any unfinished business if you have taken on any responsibilities during your membership. If you have to, personally ask someone to take over a project and then offer to be available for questions.

Bowing out of playgroup gracefully means showing respect for the others in the group and not doing anything you may regret later. If you are diplomatic and courteous about it, you will more likely leave the group as friends, and they will think highly of you and remember you fondly.

About the Author:
A homeschooling mom of four children, Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8) and Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families (ISBN 0-595-34259-0). In addition to starting four successful playgroups, she has founded a regional homeschool support group and helped start countless other playgroups around the world via the Internet.