First, be sure to find a playgroup with children in the same age group as your child. "When you have a young infant, two months might as well be two years," says Kelly. You may feel like you're not really part of the group if you can't relate to the parents around you. It's best to aim for a playgroup where the other children are within six weeks of your child's age.
Playgroups are not just for kids either; they can be great support groups for moms and dads as well. However, know when to draw the line when sharing your parenting experiences. There is such a thing as too much information. If you joined the group to talk about nap times and first steps, but the other people around you are talking about their sex lives, then it may be time to find support elsewhere.
The kids can have issues amongst themselves as well. "It's more of a toddler thing, once they're walking and talking," says Kelly. If you find that your child is having problems with one particular kid in the group, talk to that child's parent. Kelly stresses, though, that it's important to "never criticize the child. Talk about the behavior."
Another thing that can ruin a parent's playgroup experience is competition. Children reach milestones at all different ages. If there is a mom or dad in your playgroup that is overly competitive, "instead of feeling supported and reassured, you leave feeling stressed out and anxious," says Kelly.
Some parents, by nature, just aren't the group type. "You feel like you wish you could just ditch the whole group... And just have coffee [with one of the cool moms]," says Kelly . If that's the case, try to connect with people on an individual level. You may find some non-groupers just like yourself.
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By Erin Petrun