Tuesday

Success in Putting Together a Playgroup...

guest column
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.


6 comments:

nycmom said...

Your initiative is very impressive! I wish I was more outgoing and had the courage to do something like this for my youngest. It is nice to know that it IS possible to set something like this up if you are willing to put in the effort. Thanks for a great idea!

nanny2 said...

I agree with nycmom that it sounds like a lot of effort, but also potentially a really great experience! I am interested to know more about what you, in particular, were looking for in fellow playgroup members, as well as what your typical playdate consists of.

Kate said...

What city/area are you located in? Are there a lot of nannies? I'm wondering because I've tried several times to organize playdates through local parenting groups or craisglist and I get only 1 or 2 responses. I'd really love to organize something but I can't find nannies that speak English OR that speak Spanish but don't mind socializing with a non-native Spanish speaker.

meganrose said...

We are in the San Diego area.
I will submit a few guest posts about what a typical play date would consist of and another about myself and what I look for in fellow playgroup members.

Geeenaaa said...

My playgroup meets Tuesday and Thursday 9-1130am in "bible school" basement of a local church. One of the members of the playgroup attends this church. It is casual, nearly completely made up with nannies and day care providers.
For $1 per child under 6 months they get a story time, snack time, and an art project time. There are tons of toys to play with, plenty of cribs and changing tables. We have to leave the place as we found it. They money goes to the snacks and if there is some left after Memorial Day (we meet at playgrounds during the summer) we give it to the church. 9 times out of 10 we go for a nice long walk when playgroup lets out. We've had field trips to the post office and local grocery store. In the fall we go apple picking, pumpkin picking and hay rides.
It really is a great playgroup!

SanDiegoNanny said...

@Geeenaaa: I am confused--is the playgroup for infants under 6 months? If so, what kind of snacks/art projects are really involved?