by Jodi Van Lom
If you are one of today's working moms, trying to find time to add anything new to an already hectic schedule is just about impossible. With each new appointment or task, every working mom must make a conscious effort to weed out any poor use of time and make room for only the best opportunities. Hopefully, the choices that are ultimately selected provide the best possible results for the entire family. One of the activities moms often evaluate is playgroups and whether or not they are worthwhile.
To better understand, let's look at the structure of today's most common type of playgroup. Most playgroups consist of a group of parents and their children that meet once a week in a safe, child-friendly place for about an hour or two. The children are usually very close in age so the interaction is more ideal for social and behavioral development. Although most playgroups have a Group Leader to help keep things organized and well managed, all members contribute in one way or another. Common activities include story readings, art projects, outdoor activities and snack times that emphasize learning and good behavior among the children. To fit this in, a working moms group can decide to meet on a weekend or any other time that works. Commitment and communication are keys to the longevity of the group and often times, the group can stay in contact with each other long after the children have grown up.
On the surface, things look great - especially for the children. But, many working moms may say that social interaction for the kids is already going on in day-care, preschool or wherever the child is spending time when mom is at work. But, what might not be so apparent is that moms might need interaction with other moms more than they think. Since playgroups create a more intimate time with the children and other parents, what results is not only interaction among the children, but interaction among the parents. When parents have an opportunity to get to know each other and hear what other parents have to say, it becomes clear that we all have very similar experiences, concerns and fears. What parent doesn't have a million questions at one time or another while the children are growing up? The fact is that with playgroups, strong friendships often develop among the moms and a supportive environment can make a tremendous difference. Playgroups do take some effort and it may mean fitting another activity into your busy week, but you will certainly be glad you did.
Jodi Van Lom is the mother of two toddlers and the co-founder of Playgroups USA .