As the owner of one of the largest playgroups and mom’s support groups in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, I’ve hosted my share of playgroups. But, when it comes time to find other hostesses, many moms shy away. They don’t know what to expect or what to plan, but what they don’t realize is that it’s very simple. Young children are easy to entertain. All they need are toys snacks and juice, so follow these simple tips to host a playgroup in your home. You and your children will start making friends quickly!
If you’re worried about your home, put that thought out of your mind. Most moms understand trying to keep a home clean with a toddler running around, so a little wear and tear won’t bother them. In fact, they’ll be happy their kid is making friends and they have someone to have some adult conversation with. If you’re worried about space, just make sure to invite, at the most, as many as you think your home can handle and no more. If your house gets overcrowded, it’s okay. Toddlers don’t mind climbing over each other for toys or being close.
Before the event, send out an invitation. Take into considerator nap schedules. Typically 10:00 A.M. works wonderfully, since it’s just before afternoon nap and lunch, but for smaller ones who still take a morning nap, noon works best. With technology today, this can be a simple phone call, an e-mail, or you can design your own E-vite (www.evite.com). It definitely does not have to be a formal style invitation, unless that’s what you’re going for.
First, if your house is spread out, you may need to move your toys. You need a location with the mothers can sit and talk, while watching the kids play. Just bring a few of your children’s favorite toys into the living room or out in your backyard, if the weather is nice. Take into consideration the ages of the children attending, when picking your toys. Watch out for things like toy golf clubs or a t-ball set that could end up more of a weapon than a toy in the hands of toddlers.
If you’re in the mood, you can go all out by setting up a tiny craft for the children to do, like making mobiles or snowflakes in the winter. You can also set up a game or other activity, however, it’s not necessary. Most children just love someone else’s toys, since they are new to them. No matter what, don’t put too much time into planning, since with toddlers, things rarely got on a schedule and they typically don’t do what you want them to do.
Next, pick an area, like the kitchen table or counter, for snack. Lay out some simple kid-friends and kid-favorite snacks, like crackers, string cheese, fruit snacks, and grapes. Make sure the foods are age appropriate, for example for smaller toddlers, you may need to cut up the grapes. Also include some juice boxes, though most moms may bring their own already-filled sippy cup with their child’s favorite drink. Many moms can be picky about what goes in their toddler’s tummy, so go for a 100% juice drink like Juicy Juice and aim for healthier snacks. Leave the cookies behind!
Finally, make the moms feel welcome too. Put some coffee on, make sure there are enough chairs, and pick up some banana bread or coffee cake. Many moms may prefer to sit on the floor, so if you’re short a few chairs, don’t worry about it.
Remember, you don’t have to opt to host a playgroup at your home. The local park, zoo, children’s museum, indoor playground, restaurant with play area, or water park are great playdate locations. If you really want to do something spectacular, call the local PetSmart, fire station, police station, or an ice cream parlor. Many of these places will offer tours to small groups of children, so it’s a fun and educational experience. Moms will definitely come for the experience!
If you go simple or extravagant, the true joy of hosting playgroup is seeing your child interacting with others and making friends.
A sensory gym is a kids gym franchise providing a sensory-safe indoor playground where the kids can enjoy and workout at the same time.