When you become a parent – particularly a stay-at-home parent – one of the things you become initiated into is the ‘playgroup’. It’s a bewildering, hazing sort of initiation as you figure out which ones suit your baby and you (see here for my tips on how to choose one).
I get asked a lot by new mums: ‘How often should I go to a play group? How much is too much?’ Again, the answer to that is whatever suits you and your baby. Some people love to go to one everyday, while for others once a week is enough.
Currently we go to three to four playgroups a week (depending on how busy the rest of the week is) and that seems about right for now. I like for my children to have a day or two pottering about at home or getting out into nature on sunny days. Over-scheduling of children is a big problem, which is why I think lots of time at home is important. They both get bored at times, but I find my two play together well when there is nothing else to distract them. Having said this, both my kids are extroverts so they love being around other children. Chip is a high energy baby, so I suspect in a few months time when he is running around, we will need to go to some kind of group every day just to keep him happy.
Here are some photos of last week:
We go to a low-key playgroup once, twice or even three times a week depending on how the mood takes us. It is a pay-as-you-go group so it doesn’t matter if we skip a session or two. This playgroup has loads of great toys which keep my tots occupied nicely. It is a very low-involvement-from-parents sort of group (which is great when you just need a break) but we typically help put toys out/away, prepare morning tea, and lead craft activities.
This toy we christened the ‘Wibble-Wobble’ although I am reliably informed it is called a Spring Bug. I think Wibble-Wobble is much better.
We go to Playcentre once a week, and the kids and I really enjoy it. The toys and selection of activities there are tremendous. Playcentre is parent-run so it requires a high level of care-giver involvement, but it’s not onerous. Playcentre has a very holistic philosophy, letting children lead and direct their play. It is unique to New Zealand and provides training to all caregivers to help them get the most out of their child’s time at Playcentre.
We go to a music and dance group once a week, although I forgot to take pictures of this. Sausage loves, loves, loves music and dancing but isn’t into this group so much. Chip, on the other hand, thinks it is the bees-knees.
During the week we also went swimming, went to a botanic garden and hung out with family.
How often do you take you kids to playgroups? What’s your happy medium?