PREGNANT? It’s great to meet up with other pregnant folks and have someone there from the beginning to bond and swap ideas.
NEWBORN? There's nothing like meeting with other sleep deprived parents to make you feel like you are not alone!
OLDER CHILD? If you are looking for a group and it’s past new parent sign up times, Park Slope Parents probably already has one going. You are also free to start another group or just ask for people to email you who are looking for playdates.
TIPS FOR FINDING & ORGANIZING A PREGNANCY/MOMMY NEW PARENT/PLAY GROUP
LEADERSHIP IS KEY Having a point person (or two) that can organize meetings and follow through. Sharing or rotating responsibilities can lessen burn-out and keep the group feeling balanced.
SET A FIRST TIME MEETING TIME It’s almost impossible for everyone to meet the first time, so we recommend setting a time, sticking to it, and adjusting after the first meeting. At that first meeting you can decide how often you want to meet and where. (Nighttime may work better if you’re pregnant.) You might try meeting organizer websites such as Doodle which allows people to tell you their availability for a wide range of dates so you can easily see what will work best.
KEEP IT CONSISTENT It’s tough as a new parent to keep too many details in your head. Come up with a time and place and try to stick with it. Then no weekly reminders are needed. You might need to adjust over the different seasons (indoors in winter, the playground when it’s warm) but try to keep days and times consistent.
IT CAN BE MORE THAN PARENTING Some groups have evening book groups as well as mom’s night outs. Consider jogging together in the park on Saturday mornings. If you are one of those people who spent their life at work in Manhattan before kids, it may be harder to get together with your bridge and tunnel buddies than you think and using your new mommy/parent network to branch out may be just the trick.
REALIZE MOST GROUPS HAVE A LIFE EXPECTANCY Those first 6 months of blankly staring at other sleep-deprived mothers/parents can be a great bonding experience and extremely rewarding. Most groups go fairly strong for the first 18 months or so when the group can start to dissipate from life circumstances such as moving and folks going back to work. There is also a time when people find that they don’t have that much in common with some of their new-found friends beyond being new parents.
A FULL KID IS A HAPPY KID Make sure wherever you meet that you have enough for kids to eat AND you to eat. When the kids get bigger consider going to a kid-friendly lunch or dining venue or bringing a picnic (or pizza) to share in the park. If someone is hosting, make it a potluck for parents and the host provides kid-happy food. Remember it’s okay to forgo a bit of nutrition once a week if you get some valuable together with friends' time when you don’t have to feed the kids when you get home.
CONSIDER BABYSITTING SWAPS Some groups have integrated a babysitting component into their groups in order to get some away time. Many of these folks will spend as much time with you and your child as some of your relatives and understand your choices for parenting. There’s actually a website that can help you manage your babysitting co-op called www.babysitterexchange.com.
YEARLY BIRTHDAYS Since as kids get older it becomes more and more difficult to invite everyone from bigger groups to your child’s party, consider yearly birthday get togethers as a great way to stay connected to folks who have moved away or lose touch. At a group birthday you could have everyone bring just one gift and exchange it (randomly) or forgo gifts altogether.
GET SOME TOGETHER TIME Some groups become tight knit online groups as well. As wonderful as it is to connect via email there’s nothing like face to face communication. In a world where more and more things are communicated via technology, don’t forget that being with friends in person is good for the soul.
ENJOY YOUR GROUPS!!!