Friday, February 22, 2008

The Perfect Playgroup

If you consult the What to Expect…books regularly for guidance, you’ll find that the perfect playdate is characterized by no more than three children, at play for no more than an hour. For that reason, the books are currently being used as kindling for my fake fireplace.

If you really want to know what a perfect playgroup looks like, look no further than my very own, which happens to include four fantastic women (all with very different backgrounds and personalities), four adorable and gifted toddlers, and three beautiful babies. And, no, modesty has never been a characteristic I find valuable.

Here’s is why our playgroup works:

1) The original four kids are all within a few months of each other (April-July) and so we’ve gone through more than a few milestones together (big beds, potty training, and the terribly challenging twos).
2) As mothers, we share similar approaches to parenting without being clones of one another. We differ on nuances in discipline and expectations, but we share similar philosophies on effective parenting and we all just happen to be completely in love with our kids.
3) We share similar views on how our days should flow: some planned activities, a lot of free play, and the agreement that we’ll supervise without intruding on our children’s time with their first friends.

And, finally, one of the greatest characteristics of our little playgroup is that we don’t just enjoy our children’s interactions with one another, we genuinely care for each other. As women, it is so easy to fall into the trap of picking on each other, of bringing each other down when we should be lifting each other up. Why are women so hard on one another

Well, we found each other by chance…having stumbled into the same Music Together class at the Friends School when our little ones were only 15 months old. I do know a lot of groups come together through Moms clubs, but, if that’s not an option for you, start initiating conversations at the park or the library… you’d be surprised how many mom are looking to share some time (and troubles) with other moms.

My own chance meeting with my playdate partners came from shared laughs over loud instruments and chaos. After a lot of time, challenges, and more children, I guess it’s safe to admit we probably owe the Friends School some sort of donation.

So, look for similar ages, views of parenting, and expectations for your day and along the way, you’ll enjoy watching your children benefit from experiencing positive social interactions, and they’ll enjoy watching you interacting as well.

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