by Krista We love mondays in our house. Mondays mean playgroup in the park day. Our park is Kingsmere park, in the neighbourhood of Glabar park. It is one of the reasons why we bought our house, before we even had children. It has all the bits you need - sand, a play structure, swings, a wading pool, lots of room to run around, big trees for shade, and benches for mom and dad when we get a minute to sit. The community playgroup makes it all that much more perfect.
Most weeks we arrive at the park a little after 10:00 am. There are a good number of wee ones and their moms or dads by that time, usually at the swings or in the sandy/playstructure area. Most of the children in the group are under the age of four, but that changes in the summer and the older children come as well. The parents tend to gather in little groups in the shade when not joining in the fun. We talk over coffee about the week that has passed, the new things our little ones are up to, about the struggles we face, and life in general. This was especially important when my little people were much younger and I NEEDED to talk to adults, about adult things. Now I can offer that to the newest moms and dads in the group.
The older children tend to roam farther as the morning progresses, so the parents break up in small groups that follow. They don't often follow their own children, just the children that seem to need help at the time. It's great that I can help out another parent and push their child on the swing, knowing that someone else pitches in with my children and plays with them on the slides.
Snack time is a free for all, with all the little monkeys dipping in to each other's snacks. I know that it is safe for my peanut allergic son, as there are several moms who have allergies in their own homes, and we all look out for each other. My guys love it, as they often find the snacks of others to be tastier than their own. Even if we offer the same!! As an added bonus, it teaches them to share, and they love to do it.
Playgroup is free, and open to anyone, not just those living in our neighbourhood. We meet as early in the spring as weather permits, and keep going until the snow flies. We have met a local gym in previous winters, but when that is not available, we try to meet at people's houses. This isn't as successful, and makes us appreciate the times in the park all that much more. For more information, or to get added to the mailing list, see the Community Alliance's website.
We are always sad when our friends start to drift home for lunch, but we know that we will see them the following monday, if not on one of our other visits to the park in the course of the week.
I think that the best part of the playgroup is that you get to know your neighbours, and build relationships in the community. We are meeting the families that live in all corners of our community, regularly enough that we really know who they are. We are all building friendships that will hopefully last for a long time, as our children grow together.
Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 1.5 year old daughter Goose. You can find her on twitter @kgraydonald