What they might not see is the first-time mum who has been up all night with a teething baby and is grateful for the cup of coffee and a reason to get out of the house;
They also might not notice the parent who has no family or friends close by who just needs to have some support as they navigate the ups and downs of parenthood;
They probably didn’t overhear the two parents chatting about their kids and asking “is it normal if…” and “what do you think I should do?”
Because this is what playgroup truly is.
It’s parents sharing time with each other during one of the most amazing, and yes, sometimes hardest, stages of their lives.
And that’s what makes playgroup so unique; there is no shortage of activities available for children but none that benefits both the parent and the child the way playgroup does.
We’ve all seen the studies, we know the importance of parents needing other parent friends and ‘having a village’, it’s not new information. But how to make these friends or knowing where to start can sometimes seem the biggest challenges. And this is where being involved in playgroup can be the answer.
When we ask our community, ‘what does playgroup mean to you?’ we are told time and time again that it’s about the friendships made, the bonds created and the support it has been able to provide.
Recently, one of our members revealed, “I was in a dark place mentally. I didn’t have a lot of support. I was encouraged to come along even though my youngest was only a few months old.
I can’t count the amount of times I was late, on the verge of tears and just in general, a mess.
But each time I was met with a hot cuppa and a warm hug. Playgroup now for me is about helping others to find the kind of connections that saved me back then.”
It’s often not until after we’ve had children that many of us realise how isolating parenting can be. We may already have friendships from our pre-kid days but there is no denying that having people in our lives who are going through the same experiences as us is something very different.
Over 84% of parents who joined playgroup all agreed that the biggest benefit of attending playgroup was the friendships that were made*.
Being a first-time parent means new challenges to work through with new things being added to the mental load daily. Unless you’re going through it, you may never grasp how all-encompassing it can feel.
In our Member Survey, a parent shared her experience with joining playgroup, “I had a toddler and no ‘mum’ friends, it was really lonely being a first-time mum. But since joining playing I could not be happier, I’ve met a fabulous bunch of women that are very supportive and who I can now call friends and my shy, little one has even loved making wonderful friends also. Playgroup is what we needed.”
Not everyone has the benefit of having family nearby and on many occasions, playgroup has been a lifeline for these people.
Another mum who participated in our Member Survey told us about her experience, “Our families live far away and the few friends we have aren’t in the same situation as us in their lives – they don’t have kids or they work different days, so playgroup has been a lifeline for us.
We need the simple social interactions for ourselves and our children, and the other playgroup families understand our situation and daily lives.”
Playgroup has given parents not only the opportunity to make friends but, in some instances, been a home away from home.
For several generations of families in Western Australia, playgroup has been a place where parents can catch up, talk and laugh, cry or vent with each other.
And while it may just look like lots of fun (and is lots of fun!), the benefits of playgroup for parents can have a fantastic long-lasting impact. And that is what playgroup is about.
Looking for a playgroup to join? Find one by starting here.