Updated: Nov 8, 2019
As a nanny in a previous life , I was well aware of the importance of coffee groups and play groups. It was a life line to the community ! Especially to us nannies, we would meet others and find out the low down on classes and playdates, good playgrounds and help our charges forge friendships and ourselves too. And it is never more true for me as a Mummy now, about ALL the same things !
I am glad to say there will be a playgroup/ coffee group / breastfeeding group/ or local playground ( weather permitting ) or meet up on every day somewhere in the your area. And I can't tell you enough to get out of the house and get yourself to one. My wee one and I have been going to one or another since she was very little. And you need to too, There will be groups that meet up for just the age your wee one is, ranging right from newborn to threeanger. So don't worry your wee one is not in danger of getting trampled by older ones if you don't want to go to an all ages place. You can relax and feed and cry if needed, to other Mums who are going through exactly the same thing as you ! Coffee, and cakes are always provided ( coffee, sugary things and company is the holy grail believe me ) and toys, mats and comfy couches , you can't go wrong.
As my wee one is now on her feet she has graduated to an age appropriate and active playgroup where she can hone her new skills and learn from others. Its basically a more rambunctious and rowdy place than the quieter Mums get together with newborns or crawlers. And she loves it, it has slides and sandpits , cars and trucks, building blocks to ball pits, toy kitchens with all the food fixings. She has to learn to move about the space, aware of others racing around. She plays away from me and with others or quietly by herself in her own world. She has to take turns on equipment or wait till whatever is free for her to play with. Today she had to actively get someone else to play with her as she found a see saw and with a bit of coaxing now loves it, racing over to it in the hope of another getting on the other side !
These play groups in the winter and playgrounds in the summer , are where Mums can congregate and find a seat, have a coffee and get some adult conversation in. Everyone young and old ( er) can perfect their socialisation skills, as meeting new people can be hard when your out of the work place. Turning up somewhere new especially with wee ones in tow is daunting. But the wee ones are the ice breaker. Trust me sit for 5 mins and someone will talk to you and you'll find common ground , maybe even a life long friend for both you and your child. Faces will become familiar, greetings turn from an eye contact to a smile to a hug and that not just your kids. Invites to playdates, birthday parties ensue. You'll see others at other places, classes, soft plays and in the street. Your world becomes a community and a safety net for you. Reassurance from others who are in the same boat.
Your child learns a new safe place to be themselves, confidence boosting them to watch and learn from others. I swear my wee one learned how to crawl and walk from these places. She studied the bigger kids and something clicked in her mind and off she went literally. Going to a place with others of similar ages every week instills a routine for all involved, an expectation of fun and every one looks forward to the meetings. When you have had a tough day before , weekend or night , playgroups/grounds offer refuge and a break for the weary, as many Mums are watching your children and you theirs all at the same time.
They can also build courage for your children for later in their early life as they learn the skill to make friends, doing activities, and being autonomous and separate of you. Building on being separated from you when they are of age to start going off to preschool , day care, kindergarten or a child minder. And eventually to school. Where due to play spaces in your local area , they may know a few faces already. That is a huge relief to both parent and child that 'first days ' aren't so scary and unfamiliar.
I would go so far to say that playgroups / coffee groups and playgrounds are an essential building block and tool that needs to be utilised. I feel its detrimental in shaping a little person in to well rounded, good natured, social person. There are churches and halls and community centres that run them and run them well, some are even free, most are a small donation required towards the food. They are usually run by parents themselves and or retired midwifes/ health visitors and kind Grannies who are wealth of knowledge to be tapped in to. So please , get out of the house and get yourself and bubs to one. What ever age they are, its never too late to rock on up, I swear you will feel better for it !
If you're interested in finding place near you check out libraries and cafes for notice boards that will have where and when and ESPECIALLY look on
See you there