When I say “baby groups” to you, how do you feel?
Chances are you are experiencing one of the following of emotions:
A) All warm and fuzzy – baby groups, for you, are a place for friends, support and warm cups of tea/coffee,
B) Dread – lots of clicky mums who think they know best,
C) Fear – walk into an unknown place where everyone knows everyone and I know no one? No thanks!
No matter which group you fall into, it’s a safe bet that everyone has felt a little fear walking into a baby group for the first time, if you have dared to go to one at all. Pre baby, and pre – NCT, I would have definitely fallen into section C. Fearful of new people and new places, with a newborn, would have made me a bag of nerves despite being a confident person. My mind was filled with images of walking into a room full of mums and babies, chatting away and sharing stories, while my baby and I sat in a corner on our own.
There are people I know who laughed in the face of a baby group “I have friends! Why would I need to go to a baby group?” they say. I always want to say “You might have friends, but does your child?” Every parent wants their child to grow up to be a confident, friendly and approachable person. How are they going to learn how to do that if they don’t get the chance to practice? Social skills are so important!
So why else are baby/toddler groups a good thing?
Well firstly, there is a range of toys and one thing I have found recently is that, no matter how many toys you have at home, in the eyes of a toddler someone else’s toys are always better! Preferably the one that some else has in their hand, right at the moment you too want it so you grab it off them, at which point your horrible mum tells you to share and gives it back to the other child – that’s not just my son right?!
Secondly, child = germs. How is this a good thing? You won’t get the influx of illnesses when they attend nursery because they will have built up a robust immune system sharing spit, snot and water cups with other tots at group!
Thirdly, refreshments. Every mother knows just how hard it is to enjoy a hot cup of tea but with your small one occupied and under the supervision of not just you but many others, you will have chance to make a cup of tea and enjoy it…hot! There might even be a biscuit, or if it’s a really posh group – cake!
Finally, all that running around, interacting and playing means only one thing…and tired out baby/toddler which leads to a lovely nap and some free time for mum to put her feet up in front of the TV…or in my case, run around like a blue a**ed fly trying to get as many jobs as possible done before he wakes!
Most mums I know have a group of friends they refer to as “the mums” or “NCT” or “Baby group mums” so obviously it’s working for a lot a people. Having some people who understand what you are going through, that you can ask advice from or compare notes is invaluable…just like the cup of tea that goes with it (I’m obsessed with tea in this post aren’t I?!) In all honestly, in the early years I probably benefitted more from the groups that my son did so if you are a new mum don’t feel pressured to join a group straight away. Enjoy sitting on the sofa cuddling your baby if that’s what you want to do. Now Mini R is beginning to talk and walks, the stimulation from other tots and adults is great and he loves it.
If you are interested in groups: Mumsnet is a great place to start!