How do you feel about playgroups? With a baby it is pretty essential to meet up with other parents so you get some conversation during the day. You might be lucky enough to regularly meet up with friends, but for others baby group is our chance to see a friendly face and have a chat. At some point in that first year Mums drift back to work and those of us who don’t return to a work place full time need a new social circle.
I have always enjoyed baby groups. The women stumble in the door searching for coffee while their small ones slumber, cry or feed. Clothes wise anything goes and no one thinks twice if your nursing bra is half on show or you have baby dribble on your top. Baby groups are about supporting the adults. People are brought together from all walks of life in desperate need for socialisation. One morning I had conversations with a doctor, several teachers, a project manager, a shop assistant, an MP and several stay at home mums. All there thanks to the coincidence of having a baby at a similar time.
As the babies start to stretch themselves out, roll, crawl and totter around it’s time to graduate from baby group to the next stage: playgroup.
When the group is for older children the dynamic changes. The children tend to have a great time with all the activities, but it can be harder for adults. Many people have already formed friendships group so it can feel cliquey and hard to make conversation. If there are people I know I tend to drift to them because in my exhausted state it’s easier to pick up an old conversation than start from scratch. I also want to catch up with those I haven’t seen for a while, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in talking to other people.
Why is it so nerve wracking starting small talk and making friends as an adult? Admittedly I’m writing this from the London suburbs and it might be different for those you in friendlier parts of the country. I love it when people reach out and talk to me, they have the ability to make a real difference to my day, so one day at playgroup I made an effort to be that person. I spoke to 5 new people, people I had never spoken to before. I asked lots of questions and focused the conversation on them, then I left having had a much better time than normal. There is probably a lesson there.
Do you go to playgroups?