If you are a Mom, chances are you have hit the playgroup days at some point over your parenting years. Playgroup for me has spread over 14 years, and this week it brings the end to this journey. To say I’m sad is an understatement, these crazy, noisy weekly visits have touched my heart ?.
So what is it about playgroup that makes me turn into this quivering wreck at the thought of no more?
Mom discovered our long-term playgroup when Jack was 1. I had returned to work part-time, and she was looking for activities to fill her days. St Hildas Playgroup in Bearwood, is our weekly meet up. However, I have visited many more. At one point when Alfie was little I did 3 a week ?. I think I became a little addicted.
I even ran a monthly multiples playgroup for 3 years when the triplets were 1. It offered support to parents of multiples, a safe place to bring double buggies, and be surrounded by parents who just get you ?. These few years brought their own friendships, many long-lasting. Yes it was hard to organise and my home life was crazy. I produced a monthly newsletter and organised events, photographers, meals out, and raised charity funding for equipment. I was Stella again when doing so, not just the Mom with baby triplets.
St Hilda’s Playgroup is in a large open plan hall. The weekly seat wars can be a little uncomfortable, you really can’t sit on a ‘regulars’ chair ?. Dare to, and you will be given the evil eye.
But on the whole it’s a friendly group (honest ?). We’ve seen a couple of leaders. The sad demise of the first leader when the older 4 were little was very upsetting to witness. The cruel onset of Alzheimer’s led to the lovely Janet and Pat taking over.
My first visit out with the triplets was, in fact to playgroup. Getting 5 week old babies ready for playgroup was quite a challenge ?. When I walked in carrying baby car seats under each arm, Mom behind me with an excited Jack and a 3rd little newborn, I was welcomed with a cuppa, smile’s and most importantly made to feel safe.
The familiar environment, and those friends we met every week, were a welcome sight. I gave the babies their milk there, weaned them, followed them around crawling, then walking with them, and dealing with the unwanted toddler tantrums.
Playgroup toys can leave a lot to be desired. I’ve seen a few years of, let’s say less than charity shop standards. The grubby dressing up clothes, and the soft toys covered in biscuits and dribble ?. Currently I can’t describe them in this way, Pat and Janet have certainly upped the stakes.
But to be honest I don’t go for the toys, they have them at home. There is something about a hall that kids like. The shear space. They choose to play and drive round in possibly the smallest cars they can fit in, chasing friends around running over the babies ?. Then there’s the help yourself approach to the biscuits, Alfie is in heaven. When they are tall enough to reach the counter you have made it. Alfie has been at this height for what seems like years, he takes one for his ‘friend’ lol, and one to go.
Cheese toasties at 11am. Back in the early days again, the cheese had zero taste, but still I would refrain from breakfast to devour this hot snack ?. Lately we’ve moved on to Cathedral City, the god of all cheeses, scissors are out to cut off the crusts, every detail catered for ?.
Chatting at the counter, normally about the weather, and our growing waistlines ?. Having a giggle, and sharing our mothering journeys isn’t to be underestimated in its importance.
I’m not shy, but I have seen some Moms shaking as they take this first step back into the world of socialization. Often just getting out of the house with a little human can be a mission, and you certainly lose your confidence in those early day’s so walking through those playgroup doors is a big step.
It’s amazing what you can get off your chest in these places. People you hardly know, you tell your most intimate secrets. I’ve discussed all sorts over the years, with many Mom’s I will never see again ?.
We’ve made treasured cards and calendars. Brought in Birthday cakes, shared out those naff cakes that break into a million pieces the one’s with a dollop of icing plonked on the top (the ones the kids only ever eat the icing).
All 5 children had their first encounter with Santa at playgroup. Grandad Alan was my Santa at multiples playgroup. I remember vividly Jack just staring into his eyes. I’m pretty sure he had sussed out who the big guy was wearing the the beard ??.
I have seriously loved my playgroup days. Taking my babies with my Mom, my Aunt, friends, has been one of the biggest blessings. I really have been privileged to have this time that some Mom’s crave. It hasn’t been easy, I’ve taken more than one of them home early to punish bad behaviour. We’ve had some freezing cold sessions, some full of colds, some full of tears not always from the kids.
I’ve made lifelong friends, eaten a million biscuits and drank 100’s of luke warm cups of teas. Will I run another playgroup? Perhaps one day, there is a good possibility. I know with 5 children, one day, not so soon I hope ?, I will be back to do it all again with my Grandchildren.
It’s been a beautiful, very colourful journey, and it’s just another step into the letting go of the early years. Alfie has given me the extra 4 1/2 years of this experience that I so craved, and all be it with a tear in my eyes (big tears in my eyes) I’m ready to move on to the new chapter ?~