10 June 2009

Playgroup Revisited

I hadn't been to a playgroup in a church hall for 35 years, so today was a big day for me and my two boys. I've been building up to this for a while now. I wasn't really sure what to expect so there was fear of the unknown, but the main reason for putting it off was the time 1.15 to 2.45. This is nap time. The toddler (21 months) and the baby (9 months) both have a nap after lunch. It's the only time I have to myself during the day!

I wanted to take the boys somewhere we could all socialise. Having two babies so close together has made it difficult for me to take them both to the same group and I was feeling slightly isolated and in need of adult conversation.

I had decided to go to this playgroup in particular as it is where the boys will go to nursery and it is the closest, only a five minute walk away. So we had a slightly early lunch and headed off. I eventually found the correct entrance and bravely marched in. There were only two women and a child in there (being early is one of my things)! I announced "I'm new" and the playgroup leader gave me a quick briefing, took my pound, then I was left to my own devices.

I'm guessing this is a typical playgroup set up: loads of toys on a central rug, tables of activities, and chairs around the edge of the room. I let the toddler loose and off he ran and started playing. He has been a shy child so it was wonderful to see him getting stuck in, especially when the room filled with adults and children.

Then I had a dilemma - where should I sit? Now I know I'm not alone in this, please read Kim's wonderful blog about not knowing where to stand (and getting a decent haircut). I thought the baby would have a sleep so I left him in the pram and parked it at the end of a row of chairs and sat down next to him. Then I watched all the new arrivals come in and sit nowhere near me. I'm no yummy mummy, but I only have the one head. I realised one group of mums must be friends, dare I say a clique? They all looked like they belonged together; all fake tans, short T-shirts, sleek hairdos and makeup. I have none of these.

Then, hurrah, one mum sat five chairs away, on her own. She looked quite shy too so I made the first move and said 'hi'. She was quite new to the group and we had a lovely chat about children - thank goodness we had something in common! She is nine months pregnant, so she may not be at playgroup next week, but I hope she is. I didn't even ask her name, but her three year old is Eddie, I love this name!

It was time for a cup of tea (or a brew as they call it up here). I realised the baby wanted to know what was going on and did not want a sleep, so I took him to play on the mat. I sat on the periphery of the yummy mummies, hoping to catch an eye, maybe smile at another baby, but this was denied by one of the mums turning her back and closing ranks. Now I don't know if this was deliberate, but it ruled out getting to know her or her friends. At least I had the baby to play with and the toddler to watch.

I was pleased to be there, the boys enjoyed themselves and I did speak to a few people when we sat down at the end for songs and nursery rhymes. I even got a bit emotional when we sang 'Happy Birthday" to one little girl - I don't know why, maybe I was emotional at finally plucking up the courage to start at playgroup.

The downside of course was the fact that the boys didn't have an afternoon nap. The toddler in particular looked shattered and didn't want much tea.

Will I go again next week? Yes I will. It's good for all of us. Now I know the ropes I'll make an effort to talk to the other loners (well everyone who isn't a yummy mummy) and see if I can make some friends. It's easier to make virtual friends in blogging or Twitter than it is in real life, well it is for shy old me anyway.



  1. Bless you! Of course I don't mind (far too full of myself for that).
    It seems there are a lot of us with the standing-place problem. Just had a long email anecdote from someone else; it’s horrible at the time but can be funny to relate. Love your blog.

  2. I hate trying to fathom that whole mother etiquette! The first time is always the hardest; I am sure next week will be easier.

  3. I soo know where your coming from!! I'm no yummy mummy, they are the same at my group, but I took everyones advice and kept going and have made some friends and BG loves it x x

  4. I think you'll love it after a few weeks, it is daunting and i know what you mean about the cliques same at my end, but you'll soon make your own "normal" clique (no i love me mums in sight) and you'll love it. I know what you mean about the nap thing though, i have avoided a lovely church hall group i used to attend with the big girls as it clashes with the twins nap - i need that time too just to tidy up erm..blog hehe x

  5. I know where you are coming from with two kiddies so close together!


    The first time is the hardest, but give it another go then see how it pans out.

    I agree - I've made so many friends on blogs - have no need for real people!!!!!


  6. Im always writing about this dilemma. Its magnified twenty billion times here in St Albans where 'hubby works in the city'. Teh best advice I can give is this; jus tthink, those well dressed mums probably come to playgroup as one of the few activities they do with their kids the nanny looks after them the rest of the time. Or, as I came to realise the other day, that cliquey group might well all be nannies and not mums at all!

  7. I have totally been there! I hardly went out at all with Little S then finally plucked up the courage to take Baby B to the children's centre a little while ago. It was totally worth it and I just ignore those cliquey mums now (who are at every playgroup I think!). Well done for making the first step. It will only get easier from now one xx

  8. Re the award. Don't worry Sandy you don't have to do an embarrassing list; I'd got it wrong...you only have to name 10 things about yourself; mine, due to a misunderstanding, seems to have morphed into an embarrassing list (well the second thing I wrote wasn't suppose to be but, it is, really I suppose). What rude women I swear THAT group gets everywhere!!!) I'm with you, I find it hard to pluck up the courage to go to these things and..well, now the older 2 are at school I've rather given up. I speak to the "loners" too (well I AM one...I know my place ;)) I bet we have more fun than the yummy mummy's too!

  9. Oooo - I hate those mummy cliques. I went to the Big Scream at the cinema once and was told by teh mummy clique that I couldn't sit somewhere because it was saved. Honestly, I felt like i was 14 again. Could never bring myself to make the effort to chat to that woman ever again.

    I have a tag for you over at mine

  10. oh i SO know what you mean!
    Dylan & I have ben twice now,and I still feel a bit out of my depth!
    The one we've been to is run by the health visiting team, and is only for babies up to 7months - but it's *still* a bit cliquey!

    i'm going to persevere though - I've chatted to a few nice people, and I'm getting less shy!! :D

    good luck for next week!

  11. Well firstly - well done for going at all. It's so easy just to think that it's going to be too difficult so not bother. I think you did brilliantly. the only way I ever managed to brave those baby groups was to drag a friend and baby along with me the first time...coward as I was. But it was definitely worth persevering because I made some really good friends. And I'm sure you will too.

  12. Kim, thanks :-)

    MOI, yes, I'm sure it will x

    Carol, you did so we to keep going and I'm so glad it's paid off x

    WoB, hopefully my group (if I get one) will be more welcoming, especially to newbies, than the yummies one! As for nap time, well it's only once a week! x

    RM, yes I am exhausted! It is so much easier to make blogging friends, it's like you all have so much in common x

    Zoo, yes, they could be nannies. It seems there are cliques like this everywhere! x

    Clarey, thanks, I'm so glad I did go x

    Katherine, how funny that you ended up listing embarrassing things! Yes you're right, it is rudeness. I'll make an effort to talk to any newbies and get them into my gang mwah ha ha ;-) x

    BiB, that's so pathetic, saving seats? Silly moos! Thanks for the tag x

    Miss L, yes, definitely persevere and pretty soon their babies will be too old to go and you'll be the old hand with a group of friends, but I'm sure you'll remember how hard it was to start with x

    MT, thanks, but I have to go on my own as we're fairly new to the area and I don't have any friends *violins*. I will keep going and hopefully make some friends too. x

    Thank you all for your supportive comments, shame you're not all available to come to playgroup with me! One huge reason I'm going however is for the boys, so they can play, meet other children and learn some social skills. On second thoughts perhaps we'd be better off staying at home ;-)

  13. Good on you for going , i really hope you stick with it and make some lovely friends. Does it end for the summer soon? Oh im forgetting your in England right so have a while before schools let out (ours ends next week).

    I was the same way with toddler groups and avoided going for years, my girls were morning nappers and i did not want to make them miss it (all local groups seem to be on morning only, plus i was scared).

    Last October i finally decided to give one a try (dd1 no longer napped and dd2 napped in the afternoon then) , the first week was horrible - i had came during halloween party and it was busy and chotic with no where for me to put the baby (who was a month old) , i left almost in tears.
    Each time it got easier and before i knew it i was part of the group , i have made some lovely friends there and i get upset when i can't go . I hope it works as wonderfully for you

  14. Laura, thanks for sharing that, I'm going to go again tomorrow. That's a good point about the summer holidays. I'll have to look for some other groups just in case (see how confident I am already)!
    I'm so glad you made some friends. That's what I'm hoping for, it's also good for the boys to socialise.


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