When my toddler was about eight months old, I signed up for local mommy groups. One group was active, but most of the kids were either too old or too young for my eight-month-old to play with. And except for a few moms (one whom I’m still friends with today), I also didn’t feel welcomed. After a few play dates, I left the group.
My toddler doesn’t get to interact with too many kids his age. Sure, he has cousins and even a few play mates, but we don’t see them often.
On one hand, I’m fine with this. I tend to think that children actually benefit from adult-oriented interactions than peer-oriented ones. But I also understand the important skills he’ll learn by mixing with other kids his age.
So I started my own mommy group. I narrowed down the criteria to babies born within three months of my toddler who lived near by.
Finally, I felt like I could at least be that welcoming committee that I needed in the other group I left. I could plan fun play dates and outings. And I could meet many friendly moms, almost all with kids close to my baby’s age.
But since my group was so narrow, I didn’t have a wide membership. I also felt obligated to schedule and attend a zillion play dates that wore down on my baby. Plus, considering that running the mom group cost money that I couldn’t afford, I had to close the group.
Making friends in mommy groups
Mom groups provided the chance for my toddler to practice his social skills. But they’re not what I consider a “village” community. We don’t have friendships with other families where we regularly get together. And where parents are friends among one another just as much as the kids are.
In my ideal world, we’d develop friendships not just for the kids’ sake. Rather, it’s for the adults’ too. My nieces and nephews have this relationship already. There’s a good group of them close in age, and my siblings and I love getting together among ourselves as well.
As a kid, I was lucky because not only did I have siblings to play with, I also had cousins who lived right next door.
Every day was a new adventure, whether it was to dance to Foot Loose in a darkened room with flash lights, pretend to be the A-Team (I was Murdock), mold play dough or build forts out of blankets.
Even without cousins, I played with neighborhood kids who usually went to our school. Making friends was easy.
Nowadays, not so much. Granted, my toddler is only two and isn’t exactly knocking on the neighbor’s door asking to play. But parents initiate most of the social interactions. We sign them up for Gymboree or music class. We schedule play dates with friends who also have kids. And we attend mom groups.
I’m actually happy that my toddler still prefers his parents over peers. That he doesn’t have friends trying to undermine our authority and guidance. At the same time, I’d still like for him to socialize with kids his age. Where he can learn to be kind, assert himself, communicate and build his imagination.
So in my quest to find more opportunities for my son to practice social skills, I joined another mommy group. Except this one is a parents group, with moms and dads included. We attended our first play date at a local park yesterday and actually had a great time.
Hopefully he’ll continue learning how to make friends, even if his mom and dad signed him up for it.
Get more tips:
- How to Make Time for Yourself (Especially if You Have Kids)
- How to Have a Social Life (Even If You Have Kids)
- Feeling Lonely? 13 Moms Share How to Make Friends
- How to Balance Parenthood with the Rest of Your Life
- How to Cope with Parental Boredom
What are your thoughts on mommy groups, play dates and classes for kids? Why do you think there’s a proliferation of mommy groups and classes for kids?
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