Written By Renee Banzhaf: Contributor to Mom at Last
Whether kids are biological or adopted, at some point they will want to socialize with peers. Moms also need that interaction with other adults. One of the best ways to accomplish both tasks at the same time is by finding a playgroup. However, many older moms report feeling apprehensive about joining these groups, with age difference cited as the biggest obstacle. Let’s face it, most women our age either have older children or no children.
Once my daughter hit about two, I realized that I needed a playgroup for her and a mommy group for me. However, the thought of approaching a group of unknown moms that could be potentially 10 – 20 years younger can be intimidating for many women over 40. I wondered about making connections, being accepted, and finding common ground with these other women. However, it doesn’t have to be that scary.
My First Playgroup
I was a bit apprehensive before joining my first mom group as well. I’m not very talkative when I first meet people. It helped that the mom who ran the group came to visit me and dropped off some information about the group and the area. She also mentioned how happy she was to have another older mom in the group. This made me feel more at ease about going to my first playgroup, which was at her house.
Another new mom to our playgroup felt the same way: “When I moved here over a year ago, I worried if I would have anything in common with the moms that had kids the same age as my son. Play dates are so important and I didn’t want for my son to not be included because I was older,” said Kristen Miller, a Delaware mom who had her first son at 37.
Finding a Playgroup in My Area
This was the first step. Moms groups are more organized now than ever, which makes finding a playgroup easy. Since I was new to my area and didn’t know anyone I used a local (now defunct) Moms Like Me board . The Internet is a great place to find local groups, especially national groups with local chapters such as the Moms Club (www.momsclub.org), CafeMom (www.cafemom.com) or Raising Them (www.raisingthem.com).
Before Going to a Playgroup
Scope out a group’s online presence. Many mom groups organize activities and discussions through the Internet. This is one way to learn about the group and what interests the people in it. By joining discussion or asking questions, the other moms can get to know you too. Meeting in person then won’t seem so intimidating, and you’ll already have something to talk about when meeting in person.
Another option is to ask one or two other moms from the group to go on an outing. This way, you’ll have a chance to meet individually before a big group session, and the moms that have been in the group for a while can then introduce you to others at the playgroup. If they are new to the group too then you’ll feel more comfortable knowing at least one or two other people there.
At the Playgroup
My daughter is very outgoing. Every child she meets becomes her new best friend. In many ways, we can take cues from our kids. While I don’t advocate walking up and embracing everyone, being open and friendly is a great way to start.
It can seem intimidating to go up to people already engaged in a conversation and introduce yourself, but I doubt anyone would mind. If you are new to the area, ask others about the area and their choices to eat, shop or have services done. If you aren’t new to the area, just to the group, ask about what other people do when not with the kids. Getting others to talk about themselves is the best way to get to know people.
Moms and kids go to play groups for the same purpose: to let the kids have some fun while mom gets to socialize. The most important part of making playgroup time successful is showing up.
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