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The Benefits of Playgroups
Published on November 15, 2012 by guest author: R.B. Austen

My husband, Tom, is a high school teacher, which meant we got the summer together to enjoy our baby daughter, Kenzie.

But all vacations come to an end, and I soon found myself home alone with Kenzie. I will admit the first week was a little hard as we adjusted to a new routine. Tom and I didn’t want to play the Pass the Baby game when he came home from work, so it was on me to become a little more independent and help Kenzie to do the same. One of the first things I did was become more comfortable cooking with her. I set her activity stations up in the kitchen so that she moved from the jumper to the bouncer to the high chair as I talked and made silly faces at her while chopping vegetables and rolling out pie dough. This was great, as I learned I could cook great tasting foods like chicken pot pie, curry soup and yummy bars while maintaining the good spirits of Kenzie. I had to admit, however, that this was not too challenging as Kenzie is a pretty happy, easy-going monster.

After a week or two of this, I knew we needed something else that took us outside of our apartment besides our daily runs and walks. We soon found ourselves at Little Pesaukees, a local playgroup. I was a skeptical, since Kenzie was still learning the fine art of sitting up unassisted and had a fountain of drool streaming from her mouth. We arrived baby-late and quickly settled onto the playmat. The babies gurgled and gnawed on toys while toddlers rambunctiously hopped around them. This was a laidback group where all parents seemed to welcome talking with other parents, and not just about baby “stuff.”

Kenzie and I then made our way to a monthly breastfeeding group. I had been a little intimidated by this group and had put off going for months even though my mother had been pushing me to attend since Kenzie was seemingly in utero.

When the monthly e-mail announced that the topic was going to be starting food, I jumped because I had already started hinting to my husband that this was right around the corner and had re-organized our cabinets with new baby dishes, a baby food grinder and rice cereal. At the start of the meeting, when the facilitator asked if anyone really wanted to talk about the meeting’s topic, I was the first to raise my hand.

The atmosphere was comfortable and super-pro-breastfeeding. I had joked to Tom the night before wondering if it would be a little awkward to bring a bottle of formula with me. I had my answer when I admitted that I was a terrible breast-pumper. The facilitator cried out that this was never the fault of the mother and was more often the fault of the pump itself. After the meeting she found me several times to ask me more questions about this statement. I did not have the heart, or was too embarrassed, to confess that I was a terrible pumper because I did not take the time to do it. The post-meeting chatter was nice, but it was also the first time I met mothers who were “delaying vaccinations.” I had already learned not to express all of my opinions or questions. As nice and funny as the other mothers were, I needed to take a small portion of the conversation here with a grain of salt.

While I enjoy both of these groups, I definitely appreciate the openness of Little Pesaukees. It’s not about a parenting approach - it’s just about fun and mixing up. Here are some things I have learned with our increased socializing: ooey gooey Halloween cookies and toddlers are a messy mix, all babies love crinkly plastic wipes packages and, at the moment, Kenzie is outnumbered by boys.

R.B. Austen lives in New England and is enjoying her new baby.

Previous Posts By This Author: My Transition to Work

Things I Have Learned Since Becoming a Parent

User Comments
Camilla | November 18, 2012 12:10

Thank you for sharing that! Glad to see you found time to write...and so well! It's cool to get this little window into the realities of your new adventure!

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