How to Find or Start Playgroups

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Childcare, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids

Playgroups can help cure a case of cabin fever. Credit: Getty Images

Think you might lose it if your little one asks you to play Candy Land one more time? Was your last trip out of the house a visit to your child's pediatrician ... more than three weeks ago? Are you simply craving a little adult interaction?

Cabin fever, going stir crazy -- whatever you call it -- can be a recipe for disastrous parenting. What you need is a playgroup, because, let's be honest, they're as much for the parents as they are for the kids.

Luckily, there are many existing playgroups and new ones are being started all the time, so there's a good chance you'll find one that suits you. Seek them out at your local library, place of worship, school, pediatrician's office or coffee shop. You can find online sites devoted to playgroups: Playgroups USA, Mommy & Me, Raising Them and Mothers & More are some of the bigger ones. But don't forget Craigslist, Meetup or any other local parent-centric listservs or groups, as they may be even better targeted to your area.

Things to consider while you search:
  • Location: How far are you willing to travel?
  • Frequency: How often can you attend?
  • Time: Weekdays or weekends? Mornings or afternoons?
  • Children's ages: Is there at least one other child within six months of your child's age.
  • Activities: What types of activities they do? Do they go on outings?
Do a trial visit to see how you both feel about the group. Do you feel like you can be yourself? Do you feel a sense of camaraderie or kinship with any of the other parents? Does your child gravitate towards any of the kids? Although your parenting philosophies don't have to match perfectly, you still need to feel comfortable and respected. Go with your gut.

If you're interested in starting your own group, you can recruit other parents to join in the same places mentioned above. Hanging fliers at local establishments frequented by parents can elicit a good response, as can posting on any of the aforementioned online entities.

Establish the particulars such as date and time, frequency and location. If you can be somewhat flexible to accommodate the needs and quirks of others, that can only help in terms of getting your group off the ground. As the group's founder, you are the assumed leader, but feel free to enlist the help of other parents when needed.

Both you and your child stand to gain a lot through participating in a playgroup. You get the much-needed sanity break, support, advice and camaraderie, while your child learns how to interact with others, share, communicate and problem-solve.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.