What do you go to playgroup/mums group for?

Kathleen - posted on 11/26/2012 ( 2 moms have responded )

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So, seriously... What do you go to mums group/ playgroup for? Is it the same old cliche answers?.. 

"To spend some time with people my own age." 

"To get the kids out of the house and out of my hair!"

"So I can vent (also known as whinging) to some other girls about how much of a Butthead my husband has been that week."

"To suss out the latest goss about Karen down the road."

"To talk NON-STOP about how traumatic my pregnancy and childbirth experience was in front of the 4 months pregnant first time mum."

Some of these answers aren't as bad as some, or actually SPOKEN out loud, but they are real answers...



I have been to three different playgroups since becoming a mum in 2006. I'm 28, which is a super young mum compared to all the ladies that seem to go to playgroup (I guess we're just a generation that doesn't seem to care for going to a "mother's group"), and all I have ever witnessed at each one of those playgroups is whinging, whining, gossiping, complaining, competative story-telling about pregnancy, chilbirth, kids, HUSBANDS/ BOYFRIENDS, mother-in-laws, mothers, "friends", enemy's that used to be friends... All pretty much, really unhealthy stuff. I understand as stay-at-home mums we need to vent sometimes, but why at others expense. I remember being at my church' s mum's group with my latest addition (2yrs), and just watching in amazement as 12 women sat in a circle, COMPETING in intense conversation about how traumatic their labour and birth of their kids was. "You think that was bad? When I went into labour *insert insanely stupid traumatic story here*...."



What does any of this do for us? Does it build us up? Does it make us feel good about ourselves, for a brief moment in our week? Does venting about how annoying our husbands and kids have been this week, to women we may ony see once a week, make us feel better about our hubby's and offspring so we can go home that afternoon and prepare for an awesome night of love-making with the husband, right after cooking an awesome dinner for the kids and playing 20 rounds of wrestling with them before they go to bed? They've been annoying all week and all those women at playgroup did was sit there and say, "oh yeah, you poor thing. You know my Liam was such a little so-and-so this week, and don't even get me started on Trent..." was that helpful for your situation? Hmmm... I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say um, no.



The reason for this rant is I need opinions. I am going all out and am in the process of designing a mums group for a few girls I know, with a kind of motivational study guide for us to go through and discuss each week. Instead of complaining and whinging each week about mundane things, we'll discuss things like, how to better our relationships with our kids and hubby's, how to look after ourselves, how to build a better relationship with our mother-in-laws etc etc. I believe a group of women - wives and mothers - should be building up each other as best they can. Not being unhelpful by trying to bypass each other. So I think a set, constructive study or discussion that maybe goes for one hour of the two hours you spend together, on how we can live happier lives with everything and everyone in ours, is a lot more healthy that anything I have seen up to this point. Of course if there is stuff going on personally that we just want to get off our chest, we should be able to do it freely at mums group if we want, but we should have only positive suggestions or advice, not a quick pat on the back of sympathy, followed by a swift shift of the spotlight.



Opinions? Suggestions? 



P.s I know not everyone or every playgroup/mums group is like this. Don't get me wrong... I don't mean to seem judgemental. I just think based on what I have seen and witnessed in the last six years when it comes to a group of mums getting together, there's more negativity to thrive off than helpful positive support and encouragement. 



Ok... Thoughts and opinions??... Go! :)

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I've been to playgroups that are just like that. While I did meet a few of my good "mom friends" at playgroup, I never really latched on to the whole "group" mentality. Instead, I developed closer friendships with a few moms that I "clicked with" outside of playgroup--just had to go to the group initially to meet people.



I like the sound of your group,it sounds very much like my weekly brunch with a few of my best friends. We do whine and complain about our husbands, kids, and life problems in general, but instead of trying to one-up each other, we offer advice. Like one mom says "Tom was a disaster this week! He (fill in the blank)" Another would say "Oh! Anthony went through that last year, this is what helped us (fill in the blank). So the complaining is important for identifying the problems, but instead of competing for who's life is worse, offer advice instead.



You don't really need a formal plan to get to that, but if you like having one, that's cool too--just be flexible. When one of your moms starts to complain, if you offer up advice instead of a competition the other moms will follow suit. Sometimes they will compete for who can give the best advice (just like they were competing for who's kid made the biggest mess last week), but is good because you get 3 or 4 different ideas to try as opposed to only one, and we all know kids are ALL different, so what what works for one might not work for the others.



If you do decide to go with a formal plan, don't be upset if several of your mom's are complaining about their husbands on the date you set aside for mom-in-laws, just follow the same formula and adjust for the subject matter: 1. let them complain 2. Identify the problems 3. Offer specific advice to solve the issue at hand.





One other little piece of advice. I LOVE my book club. Our book club has kind of turned into a mom's group of sorts. We all read the same book then discuss it when we meet. The discussion usually comes back to our own lives. Sometimes, we'll all read the same parenting book, which is a lot of fun and offers up some really valuable conversation during the discussion. Maybe you could incorporate some parenting or relationship books into your mom's group in order to give you a lifting off place for the conversation--this way, you can avoid (or at least greatly reduce) the complaining part of the meetings that you dislike so much.



Good luck with your group!

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Kathleen - posted on 11/26/2012

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Thanks soooooo much Kelly! You've really encouraged me.

I love the idea about incorporating a book. Definitely going to look into that.



My idea for the 'formal study' comes from my connect/bible study groups that my husband and I attend and run each week. We have set study's by our church that we share with our groups, which allows us to talk about and discuss our experiences and thoughts on each subject. We never complete the whole study, or even do it to it's plan, but it's a great way for all of us to share and encourage each other and build relationships through positive support. EVERYONE gets to have a turn talking, EVERYONE has a turn offering adive or whatever, and its always the best thing in our week. I know a lot of 'un-churched' people that don't get to experience this kind of thing, because it seems all weird and religious, or just plain silly. I don't mean to sound 'better' than people that dont attend church or seperate them from myself because I do go to church (I only mentioned it show the example), but rather to compare the difference some structured plan, study or book can make, as aposed to the sitting around complaining non stop and isolating people that attend a mums group to feel welcomed and valued, when all they feel is left out.



Thank you so much again for your input and advice, Kelly. It's really helped with some ideas. I'm glad you are part of a group you are well supported in. It makes all the difference! :) x

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