Finding friends is difficult at any age, but it seems like finding people that you connect with can be even harder in adulthood.
While there are plenty of parents out there, it can be hard to find a mother’s group that is the right fit. Below are some of the questions you can ask yourself when joining a new playgroup or mother’s group or when simply analysing your existing play routine.
Do you and the other mothers have interests outside of your kids?
Sure, you could go on and on about how wonderful your daughter is; however, this topic can get tedious, especially if you are having the same conversation every week. Try to look for a playgroup where you have other shared interests such as exercising, cooking or travelling. That way, you can mix up the conversation and steer it away from the exhaustions of being a mum. After all, talking about your kids and listening to others brag about their own children can get a little mind-numbing, even for the most devoted parents out there.
Sharing interests apart from your children also allows you to explore mummy only time. Perhaps you could get together once a month for a wine tasting or chick flick if this is something that interests everyone. You may find that some of the mothers enjoy the same activities as you, such as hiking, yoga or swimming and consider incorporating these things into your routine.
Does your child get along with the other children in the group?
A playgroup is for the social development of your child. While it can be great to spend time outside of the house with other parents, it is really all about teaching your child about sharing, playing and interacting with other children. So, if your child is having a hard time getting along with the other kids, then this poses a big problem. After all, you don’t want to be constantly scolding your son for hitting the other kids or monitoring the other children to ensure they do not steal your son’s toys.
In a perfect world, all children would get along but this is never going to be the case. It may be pointless to try and force a friendship where one child is constantly getting bullied and upset and the other one is constantly in time-out. If you are having trouble with your child, then look into another playgroup to see if the situation resolves itself. If not, then don’t give up; continue to bring your child to playgroups and let him interact but make sure he knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour on the playground.
How do you feel when you spend time with your mother’s group?
If you leave your playgroup feeling more wound up, confused and alone than when you arrived, then this is another big problem. Though no fault of your own, or the other mother’s in the group, you may feel like spending time with them actually makes you feel worse, especially if their children are more advanced, better behaved or if their parenting ideals are different to yours. You shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed that you bottle fed, that you let your son crawl into bed with you or that you need to rely on your sister’s hand-me-downs.
You and your child should leave a play date feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. This is what a mother’s group is supposed to be about – not comparing your child’s achievements but celebrating the individuality of your kids in an environment that is creative, safe and social for everyone.