Not another stale biscuit…

Playgroups are pants. Let’s be honest. They aren’t enjoyable for parents.

I’m not a hater, I know that just getting out of the house as a new mum is the main objective… even if it does mean eating stale biscuits and drinking Tesco Value tea — which actually I’m quite accustomed to these days.

The thing is. It’s almost an expectation isn’t it. Everyone else does it, and all the mums you meet tell you to do it. Go to this playgroup, go to that playgroup, this one has great crafts, this one has great snacks, the guy who plays guitar and sings ‘wind the bobbin up’ is really cute at the other one (well as cute as someone in a cardigan, socks and sandals singing nursery rhymes can be). I mean come on, are these the standards we now aspire to?!

I don’t know about you, but going to playgroup often made me feel more anxious about my parenting skills and my kid’s development than I ever felt before I got there. The constant chat about baby sleep patterns and developmental milestones ‘oh gosh, is (S)he not walking yet?’ is enough to break even the most confident of mums.

I’m on baby number 3, and she has honestly slept when she likes — not that she’s up at midnight every night or anything, we have an 8pm goal, but I think because we are more relaxed, she is more relaxed — resistance to your baby’s normal sleep pattern is futile. One thing I have finally learned.

I realise that it’s about social interaction, but surely there are better ways that are more enjoyable for everyone?! I KNOW THERE ARE!!! And it’s my mission to help you find them.

For now, I’m going to give you some good reasons why just spending time as a family doing the things you all love is good for everyone.

1. You will actually get involved rather than watch from the sidelines, and that’s good for kid’s self-esteem

Kids of parents that take the time to interact and join in with games, have a greater sense of self-worth. They feel more valued by their parents and therefore have more positive feelings about themselves. That old saying, the family that plays together stays together is always in my head — and the activities don’t need to be expensive. If you have young toddlers you can let them do your make-up, or play dress-up in your clothes, make your own play-doh, play shops with the tins in your cupboards! So what if you stay in your PJ’s all day. Are you happy? That’s all you need to ask yourself.

2. It creates happy memories

Family time, laughing with your family — this is the stuff that makes for those fuzzy memories for parents and children alike. Children with happy family memories are more likely to create that same sort of environment for their own kids. And laughter is good for you too, it decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, improving your resistance to disease. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. You will definitely laugh more by just letting the kids do your make up. Check me out… looking good.

A great excuse NOT to get out of the house!

3. It helps parents and kids reconnect

You know that thing where you ask kids ‘what did you do at school today?’ and they go ‘nothing’ — that’s where just spending time playing together helps. Playing for kids is like us having lunch with our best mate — it’s easier to share when you’re just sat enjoying each other’s company doing something you like. If someone comes up to you and says ‘how was work?’ you might say ‘ok’, or ‘not great’ — but if you were sat having a glass of wine or a cup of tea and some cake, you would tell them all about what an arsehole your boss was, or how the new girl has been telling you all about her hot dates!

I really don’t hate playgroups, I just mostly found them mind-numbingly boring. Most mums go to playgroups to connect with other mums, or just to get out of the house because they think feel pressured to ‘do something’ with the kids. The thing is, it’s just too hard to really connect with other mums over which nappies are the best or which ‘bum-cream’ to use. If you feel the same, then there’s loads of great apps these days that can connect you with like-minded mums that do too.

Try peanut for one. Get the small (person) talk out of the way. Make a friend.

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