Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Baby and toddler groups

When my son was 8 months old, a leaflet advertising a new baby and toddler group was dropped through my door. Somehow I had managed to get to that stage of parenting without even really knowing that such things existed! Going along to the group, and finding others to go along to as well, really helped me a lot when I was at home all day with young children.

It was quite a challenge to me to go along for the first time. I'm not the most confident of people, and it was a big step for me to go into a room full of other people that I didn't know. Luckily, in my experience, there has always been at least one friendly helper that is there without children and able to spend a few minutes chatting. And of course with a small child in tow you instantly have one thing at least in common with everyone else there!

My toddlers have been quite demanding, and so I've sometimes found it difficult to hold a conversation with people because they are screaming or pulling at me. But it has meant that if I don't have any adults to talk to at least I'm always occupied, no sitting around feeling lonely! Over the years that I've been going I've made some good friendships. It's worth being brave and arranging to swap mobile numbers with other parents or friend each other on Facebook, as this can make it easier to start a friendship and keep it going.

Baby and toddler groups

Toddler and baby groups often take place in a church hall or similar and are arranged into different areas, with a soft area for babies, a reading area, a craft area and different types of toys like a toy kitchen and car garage. The cost is usually minimal, and for the groups that do cost a little bit more I've found that there is usually a bit more on offer in the way of snacks and crafts. It's a great way to get out of the house for a couple of hours and gives toddlers the chance to play with some different toys for a while.

The best way to find a good group nearby is to ask other Mums, or join a local Mum's Facebook group and ask for recommendations. Some local websites may maintain a list, or your local Children's and Family Centre or Library should be able to help. I'd definitely recommend taking the plunge and going along, you don't need to go again if you don't like it and you might get a lot more out of it than you think!

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