Don't Miss Out on What Playgroups Have To Offer

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Both at-home and working parents are discovering that playgroups provide the same crucial support that business associations and professional organizations provide in the workforce. If you want to make new friends, meet your neighbors and spend time with your children, you need to consider joining a playgroup. Playgroups are ideal for families on a one-income budget, and even working parents find the benefits worthwhile. Take a look at some of the benefits of a playgroup for both adults and children.

Free or Low Cost Entertainment
For entertainment on a regular basis, the playgroup is unmatched! Weekly playgroups provide an enjoyable diversion where the children can play with friends while their moms talk or where all the members enjoy a structured mom-child activity. Furthermore, playdates are not scheduled just for weekdays; weekend playdates allow working parents and their children to participate in playgroup activities as well.

“We meet three times a week, which is a big help to keep the kids busy during the week and to allow them to make strong friendships,” says Jessica LaLonde, mother of three and founder of Young Moms of Orange County in California.

Plus, whether meeting in each other’s homes or at a central location like a park, spending time with friends in a playgroup doesn’t have to cost a cent! Most neighborhood playgroups do not charge membership dues at all. Although local chapters of national organizations often charge fees, they are nominal and they cover a variety of services and benefits.

Time Out and Support
All parents need a break now and then, but many don't have the extra money to spend on a Moms Day Out program or on going out. Playgroups offer an opportunity for parents to get that weekly break from home, and yet spend time with their children at the same time.

“There isn’t any ‘off time’ as a parent,” says Danielle Lee of Mission Viejo, California, who founded the Working Moms Community Organization. “Having a support system like a playgroup is somewhat therapeutic.”

Playgroups offer parents a chance to seek parenting advice and share experiences from peers who are facing the same struggles. In today’s society many new mothers not only have postponed having children, but also have moved great distances from their families and friends. They no longer have that built-in support system that all new moms need. Playgroups and parents’ groups fill that gap.

However, playgroups are not just for new mothers. Playgroups for working parents and at-home dads are increasing. They too are finding the support they need as parents.

Practical Support System
Playgroups offer a practical support system through extra services they provide to their members. Some playgroups institute an “In a Pinch” service with a list of moms who can babysit at the last minute. Others set up babysitting co-ops. In both cases, not only is it convenient for parents to have someone they can call at the last minute to babysit, but it is also comforting to have someone whom they know and trust to watch their child. In addition, through playgroup, their children know and feel comfortable with that other adult as well.

“Moms and dads all over have discovered how best friends make the best baby-sitters,” says Gary Myers, author of The Smart Mom’s Baby-sitting Co-op Handbook.

Besides bartering babysitting, many playgroups offer other barter systems, where members exchange goods and/or services with other members. These can include coupons, maternity and children’s clothes, and other baby items as well as services such as mowing the lawn, painting a room, or sewing clothes.

Also, many local businesses offer discounts for non-profit groups, allowing playgroup members to save money at the stores they frequent. That can be a real cost-saving benefit for families on a budget.

Activities and Socialization
Many parents’ groups and playgroups schedule field trips and other special events. The field trips can be “behind the scenes” tours of such places as fire stations, police stations, and other no-cost locations. Members get a chance to see the local sites and learn more about the area in which they live. Some groups even become involved in the community through various service projects.

However, even if a playgroup does not schedule special activities like field trips, playdates provide a chance for socialization. During play, the children learn valuable skills, such as how to share, take turns and role-play. They can also engage in crafts or other structured activities. For families who don’t want to consider preschool or a Moms Day Out program, a playgroup is a viable solution.

Unlike a Moms Day Out program or babysitting service, playgroups keep parents and their children together. That means no worries with separation anxiety! The children can play and have fun without having to worry about mom leaving. It’s a very reassuring and confidence-building way to introduce children to socialization and to give them a little bit of independence at the same time. Not to mention, if the playgroup offers structured activities, it’s 100 percent quality time with your child!

Friendship
Friendship may be the most important reason for joining a playgroup. Playgroups provide children with the opportunity to make new friends and to play with others besides their own siblings. In addition, many of the children in playgroup will likely be in their classes when school starts, especially if the group is composed of neighborhood residents. Children can make lifelong friends in playgroup!

Playgroups are not just for children, however. Playgroups give parents a chance to make new friends and network too. Many adults, too, find lifelong friends in their playgroups!

As a parent, you owe it to yourself and your child to consider joining your local playgroup. So go out and find a playgroup! Your new friends are waiting for you!


A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to PlaygroupsAbout 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 the Internet. Visit her web site at http://www.carrenjoye.com.