It really won’t be that long before we have a baby in our arms. I was actually counting the weeks before I have to step down from my volunteering roles as my baby bump becomes less practical for the role but have instead stepped down a little early. With that comes a sense of concern that I may feel disconnected from what is really an extension of my family. As a result, my thoughts have gone to groups that are supportive of Mum through those early years of life. There are plenty of them out there but perhaps one of the most renowned, not just here in Australia, but all over the globe is playgroups.
Playgroups are amazing systems of social connection and have a whole swag of benefits for both parents and their children.
I know from when I ran a church playgroup in Canberra that we did lots of things in set up specifically for babies that allowed them to have fun playing, to engage in new experiences and play with other toys. It also gave them the opportunity to discover a sense of ‘other people’ in other babies, other children and other adults. It also gave exposure to toys, music and sensory experiences that may not be available at home.
When my older children were involved in playgroup it was about enabling them to develop skills at their own pace. They had the benefits of being able to learn social skills in parallel play with their peers before commencing preschool. They learned about adapting to new environments and routines and were given opportunities to create, invest, reason and problem solve all through play based learning. They were also able to build resilience through their interactions with others as well as using that time to understand different types of relationships with other adults and children and how to communicate with other people in our community.
But with an eye on a little self-interest at the moment (or maybe self-preservation as I grapple with sanity whilst on leave) I really look forward to meeting other parents at this stage in life that I feel I have lost all knowledge of and to share ideas and be part of a new support network. I look forward to building a new routine that reflects changes in our family life and I look forward to just being certain that I have the chance to get out of the house.
With the sense that I can’t be the only person who might have their sanity at stake here I initiated a bit of a mission. We went and compiled a list of local playgroups to the Onkaparinga Council region (approximately). Hopefully, it is of use to lots of other people and not just me. It was definitely worth the effort of looking at as it showed just how many options existed locally too.
Featured image source: Julie, Dave & Family – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave_minogue/ under Creative Commons license.