It’s not something I talk a lot about…but it is something I think about. Creating community. And it’s tough.
Sure, in the age of Facebook and Instagramliciousness and Tweeter (or whatever it’s called), it’s really easy to know other people’s business. I could know what Betty Sue Welker’s two-year-old was doing with that bottle of moisturizer and the cat and what she thought of Magic Mike’s opening scene…but real community? The kind that you can sit and share and celebrate the parts of you and others that make you laugh or cry or whatever, really interacting with flesh-n-blood people? I feel like there is a loss of that these days. I know the info. I wanna know how my friends sound when they giggle…or miss their family…or how they cheer on their kids. It’s like the in Blast from the Past when the couple finally gets out of the bomb shelter and finally is able to look out from their porch and see all of Pasedena. It’s the same….but it’s so so different.
Maybe it’s because I was homeschooled. Maybe it’s because at my very core, I am a simple girl who stays at home with a toddler all day. Maybe it’s because I thrive off just a smidge of social interaction. Whatever the reason…I feel a need for community in my very bones.
And that is the sole reason why I wanted to start a play group. That and I am too cheap to join the ones that charge ya $30 a month just to hang out at a fast food joint or visit the fire station.
I confessed to my mom that I really wanted to start one….just a gathering of women and their kids….and she, being the awesome mother that she is, really encouraged me. She was a stay-at-homie with four kids, so I think she really understands that feeling of loneliness and isolation that can come with being chained to your diaper bag. She quickly volunteered her services as music teacher if I started a play group.
You guys should know – if kids were dogs, my mom is like the meat truck. They are drawn to her. And she was thrilled to be able to put together thirty minute sessions once a week and lead us in song (it’s a mommy&me kinda class for the four and unders – but all ages are welcome!).
A few of y’all have asked about how to start one of these play groups…so that is what this post is about. Here is just some rough info on what we do…obviously, I would be thrilled if others started groups. Everyone needs community. It’s a fact. If you feel called in your heart to start one, I encourage you to start small and just be consistent….it’s really not a numbers thing…it’s a connection thing.
We start off inside in our basement. We have an old remnant piece of carpet that we tore outta the Jack room and saved for…well…whatever. Now we use it to cush the tush during the music class. My mom leaves her small box of props in the basement. They are all homemade visual aides for the class and a few fun things like scarves and feathers for the kids to use.
Anyone could lead music class as long as you have the words to some simple songs and a no fear of singing in public 🙂 After music class is over, usually we put the snack out on the table leading to the backyard. It’s nice to have it inside (in case of bugs)…and all the kids just take a plate and their food and go outside to eat.
I don’t bake snacks. Usually another mom volunteers….and I happily accept whatever they bring (secretly praying it’s either porky or carby!). I do provide water or lemonade for all the moms….and the cups and plates and whatever serving stuff the guests need.
I am loving the big table outside…the kids can gather around that to eat if they want…
Or we just use it for craft time. I also don’t organize that.
This craft was awesome because Jessica brought everything the kids needed and all of them loved it (ages 1 thru 9)….probably because it was messy. Kids love messy crafts, don’t they?
I keep a stash of stuff right near the back door. Jer’s parents were getting rid of this old tv unit and I jumped on it. Now it holds all the play group gear….including the most important and used item – scissors. Something has gotta open the popsicles 🙂
Speaking of popsicles…it’s always a good idea to have a bin for toys….a cooler for waters and popsicles….a place for kids to sit and a trash can.
I also love being able to use our new furniture for lounging with the other moms. After craft is over, we sit and talk while the kids run amok. It’s pretty amazing to use words like “agenda” and “workload” and “circumvent” with people who understand them…
Excuse the photos…they were taken as I decorated for the Tuesday play group before fourth of July. Hence the immense feeling of pledging allegience you have right now.
One of the biggest hits we’ve had is just pulling out the hose and the sprinkler. It is like a magnet for kids of all ages. None of the activities are a big deal or overly planned or extravagant. Children are simple…and they just want to be together.
I tell the moms that they can bring lunch if they want or they can stay as long as they want…it’s really flexible. Most times, it lasts from 10ish to 12:30ish….one is like the universal naptime…so most people head home after that. And it truly is low-maintenance. Once a week I vaccuum the basement rug and clean the bathroom and spray down the eating areas. Other than that, I chuck the trash and provide water and popsicles…and toilet paper….I should be clear on that 🙂 But really the thirty minutes of prep work is well worth the company of friends.
Overall – I think it’s a great start to creating community. I have to work on making sure people know about it and remind folks (I’m absolutely horrendous about reminders). But in my heart, I know that I don’t wanna raise Will without a group that loves him. Afterall – people are the sugar in our popsicle of life 🙂