Monday, September 25, 2006

Special etiquette

I have officially joined the local mothers' club. It felt so...well...weird doing it for some reason. I'm not a joiner, for one thing, and much prefer hanging out in my kitchen alone on the computer or else sewing or reading or some other solitary pursuit. Plus, I have friends already. They're good friends that I've known for some time and like very much. Most of them work, though, so it's all I can do to maintain those relationships. For that matter, it's all I can do to squeeze in things like sewing and reading and hanging out on-line, so why am I doing this? For baby Bean, of course. I'm doing it for the playgroups.

But I'm beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that there is a playgroup culture out there that I'm so not privy to. I never did join a playgroup when Sister was little because I was working and already had too much to do. So it was a surprise when the mothers' club sent out the roster of people looking for playgroups and attached articles about playgroups that we were supposed to read. 'Cause playgroups require research and preparation, I guess. And then there's the overachieving mom who called me at friggin' 10 p.m. last night because she's taken it upon herself to organize the roster into a spreadsheet with names listed according to different criteria. She's getting her master's in information science, she told me gushingly, and just hated to have a semi-functional system out there. I went to the open playgroup last week with Bean to meet some of the parents, and more than one mom gave me recommendations quoted from those articles or from the mothers' club meeting speaker about how playgroups are supposed to be run and who should be in them. It was a bit freaky.

I just can't bring myself to research how I'm supposed to be scheduling Bean's playtime for optimal fun and learning or whatever, so I'm turning to you mamas out there before I sign up. Have any of you ever joined playgroups? Recommended or not? Any words of advice? And how do you avoid the overachieving, uber-mamas and just find some nice, relaxed mamas with nice, relaxed kids?


Suzanne said...

Yikes. This is one of the reasons I haven't joined a playgroup. I'm too solitary and get too annoyed by group politics. Of course, that doesn't prevent me from lamenting my solitude sometimes!

Some of my friends who don't live near me have had terrific experiences with play groups, but I'm afraid to take the chance. Good luck with your group, and keep up with your reading!

Nikkie said...

I haven't joined a playgroup. I'd much prefer to get a couple of mama's I know together and unformally hang out. What you described just sounds insane to me. I'm all for researching things, but common, its freaking play.

Joan said...

I'm way past playgroups. My kids are 9 and 13. I'd keep it as simple as possible for as long as you can. I had few friends who loved their organized playgroups but they were also very social moms who were always on the go. I'm not like that. If I have too much scheduled, I get resentful. I like down time and quiet time.

Mama D said...

I am in the haven't joined a playgroup cause of working and stuff. We have done swimming lessons and A is starting music class this weekend.

Good luck and let me know how this turns out!

cubmommy said...

I haven't joined any playgroups. I am not good in social situations. I like things casual and relaxed.

I know this isn't any advice in this comment sorry. Go with your gut instinct.

superhalfling said...

Our mother's club is a bit more laid-back. There weren't any suggested readings or lectures or anything of that nature.

We love our playgroup-- I don't have many friends with kids the same age so it was nice to have the introductions made for me.


Brony said...

Can't say I ever have. Although I did belong to a mom's group when the boys were babies. The politics really got to me. I thought it should be something that I want to go to, not force myself to go to.

I'd keep is light and simple. Maybe even look at other activities. You'll meet mom's with similar interests and kids of similar ages.

Good luck.

Belle said...

I never joined any playgroups....I'd just show up at the park or playground and let my kids play with the kids of other underachieving moms such as myself.

Lauren said...

Did you join Mothers & More? I've had some really good experiences with that group. Love the evening meetings, all guaranteed child-free.

Devil's advocate here:

Hey, if supermom is organizing the playgroup, that means YOU don't have to. Woo-hoo. It can't hurt to join, and you can always drop out because of "Bean's naptime." Or whatever. If some moms overdo things a bit, what of it? If it keeps them sane and feeling competent, then more power to them.

Sugarmama said...

Lauren, don't think it hadn't occurred to me that if someone else was gung-ho about organizing and Excel-ing, it meant that that was one less thing I had to worry about! I'm down with that, given that I'm already playing uber-mom to Sister's Brownie troop.

I guess why I'm a bit uncomfortable is that it feels like there are some set of rules that we're supposed to follow and will likely break unknowingly. Paranoid? Maybe. But we do live in a super-competitive, high-achieving school district, too, and the pressure seems to start so early here. I mean, even the kindergarten teachers assign homework!

JMom said...

funny :) I'm so glad my girls are out of the play date stage. I can't say I'm a big fan of play groups. Maybe because I'm just not that structured. I'm more of a let's see what happens next kind of mom. When my girls were smaller, I used to just take them to the park and see if she can find someone there to play with. Most of the time they do and they have a great time.
We did have one bad experience with play groups during one of these park outings. My daughter, saw kids, so she goes to play with them. Fine with me, fine with the other kids. Not so with the play moms. They looked at my child like, SHES not in our group! So they calll in the other kids for "organized" activity. hmmmph!!
But hey, that was just one incident. The rest of the time it was fun. The good thing about just going on our own to the park, when we didn't feel like it, we didn't have to notify anyone :)

"Grandi" said...

I sort of agree with Belle - We just went to the park and played with whoever else was there! This playgroup thing is really huge now though I guess! It does sound a little stilted and could be pretty 'uppity' depending on the personalities involved! I feel for you!
Is this something you can loosely join? So you can participate when you want, but beg off if you don't?
You might find a couple of participating moms that you really connect with and enjoy seeing on a regular basis.

MLight said...

(Delurking briefly) I never joined a playgroup as such. I started getting to know some other mothers in the neighborhood and through La Leche League when I first started staying home. We started getting together once a week for us (at that point, the babies weren't even crawling yet). We were all adjusting to being at home and needed the conversation.

As the kids grew older, it just turned into a playgroup. It lasted until the older kids got to second grade - then other afterschool activities started taking up more time. The mothers still get together for dinner occasionally - mostly to talk about what we're doing, but also to occasionally talk about the oldest kids who are mostly in their first month of college!

Dawn said...

I never joined anything like that. I might go to one and look for other shell shocked looking women and lure them to my house with promises of wine.