Picture the scene: you have just been thrown into the parenting world. You are sleep deprived and can’t remember when you last washed your hair. Your clothes don’t fit properly as your body is a strange, post baby shape. (See this previous blog post). Loneliness has driven you to your local village hall, to a toddler group, in a bid to make some “mummy” friends. Everyone else there will be in the same state as you right? Wrong! Everyone seems so put together and has the look of “I’ve got this”. Your loneliness grows as you slowly realise no one is talking to you. So why would you want to go back and put yourself through this again?
Because despite the initial shock of “what have I let myself in for?!”, toddlers has kept me (kind of) sane over the last few years. I believe it is character building plus I eventually found some like minded mums.
So here are my honest opinions on why toddler groups are in fact good for you and your baby.
At most toddler groups you are offered tea, coffee and biscuits. If this isn’t a big enough bribe then I don’t know what is.
It is a change of scene for you and your child/children. Even if you can’t think of anything worse than sitting and making polite conversation with strangers while sleep deprived. Trust me it is good to get out of the house and “have something to do”.
Your baby/toddler will learn some valuable social skills.
Some days your child may not feel like being sociable. (Please see the photo below of my son at a local toddler group a few years ago…) But that is okay. Sometimes as adults we don’t want to be sociable, so you see, it is all life lessons.
I think by this stage he just thought he was too cool for toddler groups but I know other children have certainly benefited from this social interaction. Especially if they have no siblings and, like me at the time, you have no friends with children. They learn to share, take turns and
push each other over stand up for themselves. Charlie obviously decided his best chance of survival would be winging it alone.
It provides the opportunity to talk to other adults. I do find myself from time to time, slipping into baby talk when having a conversation with another parent. They probably did it too, to be fair.
There is a snack time and children seem to eat a lot better if they are surrounded by fellow raisin smugglers. So if all else fails at least you know they have had something to eat that morning.
Finally, and probably most importantly, it can get very lonely being a mum. Or dad. I talk about loneliness and the importance of having a good support network here.
Whilst it took me a while to find a good support network, I have since found that I am not alone in feeling like this. That is why I think toddler groups are in fact good because we are all there to support each other.
Because I know what it feels like to go home feeling crap about yourself because no one talked to you, I now make an extra effort at groups to talk to a parent who is sat on their own. (Fair enough they might want to be left alone and I am just that annoying person that won’t go away.) But I am guessing if they have made the effort to attend toddlers, chances are they just want someone to talk to.
It is also worth mentioning that toddler groups vary from place to place. You will soon find out the ones you like to attend and the ones you don’t. I tend to go for the ones that serve the best snacks/coffee. But on a serious note, it is hard at the start but before long you will soon find yourself volunteering to take the toys home at end of term to wash. Or is that taking it a bit too far?
Thank you as ever for reading. Do you enjoy toddlers and other baby groups or do you avoid them like the plague?
Leave me a comment below sharing your experiences, good or bad.