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Friday, February 20, 2009

The Importance of Having a Play Group

By Katie M

I’ll never forget my first play group experience. Jen P, chief founding mommy of CharlotteSmartyPants, invited me to join her play group (when I lived in Charlotte). At the time, Jen P had just two kids ages one and three, and she was already an “expert mom” who knew the ropes, and had a huge group of friends she called “mom friends.”

Considering I had no “mom friends” except for Jen P, I happily obliged and toted Emily off in her infant car seat to Jen P’s house. I had no idea what to expect, but for some reason I think I was expecting Emily to miraculously make a bunch of friends at her ripe age of maybe one month. I envisioned her “playing” and having a grand ol’ time while I relaxed and chatted with other women who I was hoping to “mommy befriend.” Well, of course that didn’t happen (I did make new friends, but of course, Emily did not). Instead, I plopped Emily down in her car seat where she immediately started to wiggle and whine, and then I laid her on the rug - carefully out of the way of the other children who played and giggled in circles around her.

Even though my vision of play group was not realistic, I did enjoy myself – and now nearly five years later and living in Winston-Salem – I still seek out opportunities to get myself and children together with other “mom friends” and their children of similar ages. I can’t imagine not ever belonging to some type of “play group.” I think it’s essential to our sanity as mothers – and it’s a great opportunity to introduce our children to other children – either as their “first friends” or as “play friends” outside of their day-to-day school.

So, when I first moved to Winston-Salem – and did not know a soul – I immediately “Googled” Stay-at-Home Moms and Winston-Salem – and to my surprise found the group Stay-at-Home Moms of Winston-Salem (which is now called Stay-at-Home Moms & Dads of Winston-Salem). They had just organized and it was such a blessing to find them. The group had one organizer who would set up “play dates” once a week at various locations – someone’s home, a park, a road trip to a fire station or Baa Moo Farm, you name it – and it was exactly what I needed. That was nearly five years ago. Today, the group is still going strong with over 240 moms and dads and they’ve had over 900 play dates so far. I highly recommend other moms in Winston-Salem visit their web site and consider joining their group. They require a small fee of $3, but that is to cover the cost of their online presence.

My participation in the Stay-at-Home Moms & Dads of Winston-Salem started to dwindle only because it seemed many of their play dates occurred when my daughter happened to be in school. And then I met Summer R, another Smarty Mom, who happened to be starting a small play group of her own that met my schedule, and I got back into the swing of things, albeit with a much smaller, more intimate group. But I have to say, both groups have been my salvation as a mom. And while I don’t always attend every scheduled function or get-together, it’s great to know these moms are there – whether for a scheduled or a on-a-whim get-together, or as a group I know I can email at any time of day with a question or concern.

I know many of you probably have your own play group, but a lot of moms out there are still searching. Please let us know of other groups like the Stay-at-Home Moms of Winston-Salem – particularly in other areas of the Triad. Also relay any advice on starting your own playgroup and/or finding one among your many “mom friends.”


sarah g said...

My neighbors and I started a playgroup when I first moved to Kernersville. Although our kids were a variety of ages, they have always enjoyed playing with one another. More than anything, I think the adult friendships have saved me so many times! My playgroup mommies are now my best friends.

StefanieJMoore said...

There is another meetup group called "Triad Treehouse" in Winston-Salem. They can be found on the same site as the Stay at Home Mom and Dad's group. Also, my husband is a fellow at Baptist Hospital and I am involved in playgroups through RSA, the Resident Spouse Association for Baptist Hospital. If you have children and your spouse is a resident, RSA is a great way to find playgroups and other kid activities!

Katie M said...

Stefanie, thanks for adding another group - Triad Treehouse. I have heard about that group and I think there are others out there that I'd love for people to post in this comment section. That's what we're here for!!

Jen P. said...

I remember that day as if it were yesterday:-) I think the most important part of a play group in the early stages is to find moms with children the same age as yours. Your kids will grow up together and it will be such a neat experience. And you will gain friendships with other moms that will last a lifetime. I am still friends with my Gymboree buds who I met 7 1/2 years ago when our babies were only 3 months old. Now they have crushes on each other and it's so sweet to see.

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