Hosting a playgroup is one of the best ways of getting to know people and finding friends for your children. Of course your kids will always prefer to play with someone else’s toys but they also enjoy the opportunity to have friends round and show theirs off! It really doesn’t take too much effort, but some of the points below might help to get you started;
1. Be clear on the start and finish time. Most playgroups are about two hours and the understanding is that you can drop in at any time between the start and finish. You never know when the little ones are going to nap/have a tantrum or how bad the traffic will be so being flexible is the best option when inviting people. That said, it’s also good to manage expectations and if your kids need to have an uninterrupted lunch at 11.30 then make sure you indicate that the group finishes around 11.
2. Directions. Of course you need an address but don’t forget to include your phone numbers, landline and cell in case one or other doesn’t work, PLUS some brief directions. Road numbers don’t always make sense here and it pays to highlight landmarks and the colour of your gate.
3. Snacks. Fruit and water or juice works for the kids, with perhaps some crackers, popcorn or biscuits if you like. No need to go overboard though if you are an enthusiastic baker or have an amazing cook, feel free to show off! It will be much appreciated. Tea and coffee for the adults if you like and make sure there’s something for the nannies too; mine likes 3-in-1 coffee particularly.
4. Will you be there? Some groups are nannys only and some are mainly parents. Others are a happy mix of both but it might be prudent to indicate whether you will be around and expecting to socialise.
5. Don’t feel the need to put on entertainment or organise games. It’s usually enough to share toys and snacks and let everyone have a good old chat. If weather and your location allow, you can let people know that outdoor or messy play is on the agenda.
6. Before the playdate, have a conversation with your child about sharing, especially when they are younger. If there are particular toys they feel precious about then it’s absolutely fair enough to put them away for the duration of the playgroup. Of course, that won’t avoid meltdowns completely but at least gives your child a bit of a say in matters!
7. RSVP. If you would like to know who and how many will be attending then ask for an RSVP. There are times when you might have only one person turn up and it’s bound to be the morning you re-arranged everything to be at home! That said, if it’s a nanny group then it’s pretty self regulating and you probably don’t need to get involved at all.
8. Relax. Playgroups are supposed to be minimal effort and maximum fun. The kids will just enjoy being in a different environment and parents/carers will be glad of the chance to get out of the house and socialise.
Don’t worry too much if you feel that there aren’t enough playgroups and playdates set up. Once you’ve hosted and once you have a nanny in place, you will find that in no time at all, your little ones will have a much livelier social life than you!