Playgroup etiquette

After numerous playgroups this month to keep us busy while Andrew is away, I started thinking about the dos and don’ts of hosting/attending a playgroup. (I, too, have been hosting quite a few). In the 3 ½ years of having children, I would bet I have attended/hosted close to 1,000 playgroups. What can I say? I’m social. I like having an easy opportunity for my kids to play and me to chat with other moms.

My general piece of advice for attending and hosting is that you need one of two things to happen in order for it to work. 1) Either all the kids need to be close in age. When they are little that means really close in age, but as their older it means within the same year or so. 2) Or the moms all need to be friends to begin with or have a common denominator between them all. (i.e. Our neighborhood has a playgroup and it works because we all sit and talk about the neighborhood.) If one of these two things doesn’t occur, you’re going to have a harder time making for a successful playgroup.

Tips for hosting:

  • Always provide some kind of food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but kids get hungry and for the older ones who have done this thing before, they know playgroups tend to mean fun food and drink. It might not should be that way, but it is. Have some food and drink available for your little guests.

  • If you want to make a big impact, provide some non-kid food for the moms. I love going places where someone has thrown in some mini-quiches or put out a nice loaf of bread with cheese. It’s so nice to eat something other than goldfish.
  • Make guests feel that they can be at home. It’s hard with toddlers who explore cabinets and closets not to get farther into a house than you might feel comfortable. The host should make the guests feel like it’s OK if their kids explore a little more than they should.

  • Have the toys out and ready. There’s nothing worse than getting to a house and not having age appropriate toys available. If you have little ones coming and you can pull out the extra bouncy seats or playmats, do. If you have older ones, you might set up some older toys as well.

Tips for attending:

  • If your kids are old enough, explain beforehand the boundaries of the playgroup. (ie “No hitting, biting, pushing.” “No going upstairs.” “We’re staying outside so don’t ask me a million times about going inside.”

  • Bring a snack and drink for your child. I have been to countless playgroups where no drink or snack was offered. It’s embarrassing to have your child go up and ask the host for snack. It’s primo if you can pull it out of your bag before they do that.

  • Don’t throw dirty diapers in the trash unless you ask. There’s nothing worse than finding a poopy diaper in a trash can you only empty once a week. Eewwww.

  • Part of playgroup is letting children interact with each other. Obviously throwing sand or dirt at each other is a no-no, but if a disagreement breaks out, wait a second and see if they can work it out before you jump in to save the day.

  • Don’t discipline other people’s kids unless you ask. I hate when people tell my kids not to do something that I’ve told them it’s OK to do.

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