By Nanny Megan
It wasn’t until just recently that I made the decision to venture into the world of playgroups. My charge and I are always trying out new activities. I quickly began realizing how boring these activities were becoming because we weren’t able to share them with friends. I wanted to make sure my charge had an opportunity to socialize and make friends beyond the people we meet at various parks and story times that we never see again. I also felt that it was important for him to have some socializing beyond his immediate family, myself, and his cats and dogs.
As soon as I came to the conclusion, I began frequenting various play group websites such as Meetup, Playgroup USA, and Play Dates of America. I would also periodically check Craigslist to see if there were any leads. After searching through all of these sites, I found a couple that had seemed like they would be a good fit. I excitedly emailed the group admin to ask about meeting times/dates and to get more information on each group. I heard back quickly from some, while others took a couple days. It was a Tuesday when my charge and I attended our very first play date. It was an experience that I will always member for reasons both good and bad. This specific group was a Baby Sign Language groups for Stay at Home Moms. Although I am a Nanny and not a SAHM, the group admin informed me that it would not be a problem. As soon as I got there, the group leader began introducing me to each member. I was the only Nanny, which to be honest is what I expected. The group was very informal. The adults broke into their own little “cliques”, while the children played together. I expected the conversations to revolve around, but not consist completely of, Baby Sign Language. That was not the case. The group was okay, but I felt as though my charge and I didn’t quite click. I wrote it off, and went back the drawing board. It was the following Thursday that I decided to try another playgroup. This group didn’t really have a theme. It was a group of 5 ladies and 6 children. Three of who were SAHM’s and the rest were nannies. This group was more structured. The play date began at 3:00. From 3-3:30, the children would have sharing/play time. From 3:30-4:00 would have snack time. We were responsible for bringing their snacks and drinks. Then from 4:00-4:30, we had music/ dance time. This group proved to be a better fit than the first, but still the feeling wasn’t quite right.
It was at this time that I decided that I would put together my own playgroup. I put listings on Craigslist, Meetup, and a couple other Playgroup websites. I began getting responses immediately, and it wasn’t long before my email was flooded with replies to my ads. I thought I would only get a couple responses, but soon I was stuck with trying to find a way to narrow down my responses. I had an initial meeting where about 35 people came with their children. We met at a park where the children were able to play together and the adults were able to talk. I met a few people who I had an immediate connection with, and we just went from there. Now after going through all the trouble of finding the perfect playgroup, I have come to the conclusion that no playgroup is perfect. There is no way perfect way to match personalities, work out everyone’s schedules and make sure that all the children get along. I was however able to find a group of about 7 moms and nannies for our playgroup with whom we meet twice a week.