On the surface, play groups seem like they are a great opportunity to socialize our kids and burn off some energy. And they are. But they are also a great opportunity for parents to socialize, relax and commiserate with others who understand the trials of parenting.
Finding a play group is actually fairly easy. Finding a play group that fits your family’s lifestyle and your parenting style, on the other hand, may not be so easy. Obviously, if you are a full-time working parent, a 10:00 am Wednesday morning meet-up, will not work for you. And depending on the ages of your kids, a play group for infants isn’t a great match for your preschooler.
My first play group experience was actually right after we had our son. The lactation nurse at the hospital encouraged me to join the nursing mom’s support group that she ran. The group met weekly in the hospital’s community room and the nurse organized all of the speaker’s and activities. It was a great experience for me as a new parent. I met other mom’s and got great tips on all things baby, other activities and even childcare centers.
The next group we participated in was through an organization called Parents As Teachers. Part of that program included monthly Saturday morning play dates. This was perfect for us, since both my husband and I worked full time and we could both attend. Again, they did all of the organizing and we met at the local school district’s education center. They had some really cool activities for the kids including inside obstacle courses to encourage large motor skill development, sing a-longs, puppet shows and much more. We also received books and attended an annual Spring Fling.
In addition, to the organized play groups we participated in, we also attended several other weekend events. Toddler time at the local indoor play center, story time at the library, etc. Places where the kids could have fun and we could have a few moments with other grown-ups and maybe even a latte if we were lucky!
Some things to think about when looking for a play group:
- Consider your child’s age and personality.
- Know what your purpose for joining a play group is.
- Make a trial run before joining.
- Choose a location that works best and is convenient.
- Make sure that the schedule fits with your family’s schedule.
- Respect other’s parenting styles.
- Have fun!
Some places to look for play groups:
- Businesses – Pump it Up, Monkey Joes, etc. host play groups
- Churches – many local churches host play groups and mom’s support groups
- Hospitals and Pediatricians – host their own groups and can make referrals
- Meet-Up.com – find contact information for play groups and mom support groups on this site
- Municipalities – libraries, parks and recreation departments and community centers host groups and can make referrals
- Non-Profit Organizations – for example Des Moines Social Club hosts a Thursday morning play group and many other organizations offer similar programs or can make referrals
- Start Your Own
What are your suggestions for finding a play group for kids in Des Moines?