17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Post on Playgroup

Since the majority of the Tales girls have abandoned me here in Queens... ok, only 13 out of 18...but since they have left, I have tried to make it my mission to keep our playgroup alive, because after all, this blog would never have been, without it. This past summer in our ward, we have had a LOT of move-ins, and these new singles, families and couples are starting to fill up the void that the 15 move-OUTS left. Even though I am crazy busy, I want the new moms to have the same experience that I had, so I recently wrote them all an email:

"Dear Sisters,

Here is what I have to say:

When I moved to Astoria four years ago, I had a 4-month-old baby and no friends. I gradually got to know a few girls in the ward, and we would trade watching each others kids for little playdates. However, this became NOT ENOUGH, b/c it was a mom and two kids, and no adult interaction.

When my daughter became more of a toddler, Shaleen (who no longer lives here), started playgroup. What a blessing. We gathered together at the church every Friday morning and had a minimally structered group: free play, singing time, snack time, clean up (usually this involved putting away table and chairs and vacuuming), and go home.

This is where our friendships with each other as sisters deepened, and our kids got their energy out. Unfortunately there were a few powers-that-be that tried to end our playgroup, but thankfully Carrie fought nail and tooth for it to stay meeting at the church, and even sited the Relief Society Handbook in our plight. Since that fight, the enrichment program has changed and it is a lot freer and the sky is the limit to what kind of groups and activities can use the building for their purposes...and playgroup definitely fits into the program.

The reason I tell you that is because fighting to have a playgroup was worth it. When you are a first-time mother you need a support group to vent to, learn from, and bond with. I have made LASTING friendships with some of the women that were in that first playgroup, and I am sure that I will never have such a unique group of friends for as long as I live.

Now that I have two kids and more demands, and more craziness, I can't always attend playgroup, and I don't need it in the same way as I did back then....but some of you do need it and WILL need it in the future, so I want to encourage you to take an active role in planning activities. A weekly playgroup is a great idea, but there should be more socializing beyond that.

In the past if I am going to the mall, zoo, aquarium, central park, costco, target, pumpkin farm, wherever....I have emailed a few or all of you to invite you along. It is always more fun with more people! So, I have included the playgroup master list (we can add to it) below, and I expect you to take an active role in organizing playgroup and other activities...because we need each other and we can strengthen each other.

Lecture over. "
And I signed my name.

Last week we met at the church because of the rain. Whenever we meet at the church, it is easier to have adult conversation b/c the park is big, outside, and kids are constantly getting themselves into pickles that require our attention, and at the church we can corral them into one room. I had such a nice time talking to the moms.

I was really excited when two of our brand new moms (4 week old babies) met for the first time and realized their babies had the exact same left hip displasia (sp) and had the same cute little harnesses on their legs. The one mom was new to the area, so she was able to get a recommendation for an orthopedic pediatric doctor from the other mom...

As we were leaving, one of our moms (actually 1 of 2 regular attendees who is not a member), proclaimed: This is the most non-judgmental group of mothers I have ever known, and that is why I come here. It made me feel so happy, because I knew the Tales girls current and past have always tried to be open and accepting of everyone, and use our friendships to come together and learn from each other. That is what I think the gospel is really about, and I was so happy that that was coming through at playgroup.

Even in our own ward the phrase: "there are cliques" is thrown around, and I just don't get it, because our relief society sisters just want everyone to come and bring who they are to the table and find joy in each other, and I found joy in every one of those women who attended that day.


  • This post just made me tear up over the memories of our Astoria playgroup. I'm so glad that you are working to pass on the tradition to the new generation of Astoryites who have taken our place.

    I'm in charge of playgroup in my new area and I'm just not that enthusiastic I have to say. In part, because I don't need it the way I used to. Like you mentioned, Max getting older is part of that. Also, I have made other friends outside my ward and I get together with them for playdates. And having a larger home actually helps as well - part of the joy of playgroup was getting out of our tiny NYC apartments and into a space where we could all gather!

    BUT, I sincerely think that playgroup is valueable for new mommies. It's more of a mommy group than playgroup at that point, but for those first 2 years, you really need the support and sanity checks of your fellow moms. I'm glad that we were able to create a supportive environment for ALL comers to our playgroup in Astoria, I hope that continues there and wherever we alumns move on to!
    posted by Blogger marian at 10/03/2006 06:43:00 PM  

  • I believe in playgroup too. I run one for my ward even if the email list is long and the actual attendees are few. I am still grateful for the playgroup I had 8 years ago because it wasn't exclusionary.
    I have stayed put, but everyone else is gone (except one who just doesn't need it I guess). But my third child needs playmates, I need adults and I need to feel connected and like I have a network.
    So I check the weather, and send out emails, and go no matter what. And even the first time moms who sometimes can't make it because the baby was sleeping....they thank me.I wonder if I can get a key for the church? Having to rely on the bishop's wife's baby's naptime makes it hard to schedule it at the church.
    posted by Anonymous JKS at 10/03/2006 10:25:00 PM  

  • Kage - great post. I, too, remember my first playgroup in the CP ward. Your first child, of course, had not yet joined the world. On the first day in that ward, Holly found me in the hall and invited me to join them, and the decision to spend a day a week with those women seriously changed my life. Jodi, Holly, Jenni, Erin and Susan, SAVED ME. I was in a new ward, I was a new parent. I was lonely and going crazy. Isn't it a miracle how women can support each other? I couldn't have made it through those first couple years of grad school without that playgroup.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/04/2006 10:47:00 AM  

  • I am so glad that you are trying to inspire the young moms to keep the play group going. It was very important to me when Princess was younger as well. And once you have more/older children, I think forming deep friendships with other moms becomes increasingly hard. I hope all moms with small babies take the opportunity to reach out to others- and please don't wait to be reached out to! Jump right in and take responsibility for your happiness, it is well worth the effort.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 10/06/2006 09:31:00 AM  

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