Circle of Moms member Meghan A.'s playgroup has turned into a déjà vu of high school mean girls. In addition to lots of unsolicited counsel, "these moms offer me advice that I really don't need." But it's the group's gossiping that bothers her the most. "The main thing I can't handle is these women talking gossip about other moms (most of the time these mom's aren't even there to defend themselves!). I thought we were taking our kids to play and learn and socialize, not for us to sit around and bash other parents and their kids."
Many Circle of Moms members share similar stories about their playgroups. Sheree O. says that she sought out a playgroup of other moms to find support and instead, "I feel like a freak because my parenting style is in contrast to everyone else's." The perceived judgment is what bothers her most. "The little comments about ‘still carrying' and ‘still sleeping in your bed,' seem to repeat in my head." She eventually took herself and her preschooler out of the group.
In spite of these experiences, moms say that when a playgroup goes right, it's an invaluable way to make friends and to socialize, both for moms and their preschoolers. So to help you avoid the pitfalls above, we turned to members for tips on how to keep your preschooler's playgroup fun and friendly for both of you.
1. Avoid Confrontations Over Different Parenting Styles
Certainly we all have our own wisdom on what's the right way to parent. But "mum's the word" is the best tactic when trying to get along with other playgroup moms. "I pick my conversations and sometimes just focus on the kids to avoid some controversial issues," says Geralyn. "Sometimes it's best to say nothing if you don't agree."
It also pays to have rehearsed a litany of responses to deflect negative commentary from other moms, several Circle of Moms members advise. "Anytime anyone said something I didn't agree with, I simply answered, ‘oh really, I'm following our pediatrician's advice," says Eleni M. "Then I add, but thanks anyway. Shuts them up every time."
2. Look for Your BFFs Elsewhere
If it happens, it happens, but don't count on creating your closest circle of friends from the mommy and child playgroup, Circle of Moms members caution. "I do enjoy the casual chatting with other mothers, but most of my close friends I see elsewhere," says Ruth B. Stephanie S. agrees: "I just look at the moms as moms with kids the same age as mine," and not potential best friends. Everybody's different. I'm not going to find a group with 20 carbon copies of myself. I just want a group for my kids to play."
3. Keep Your Sense of Humor
When little kids — and their competitive moms — are gathered in groups, no matter how carefully you plot your playgroups, conflict happens. Stephanie S. says she is keenly aware that the jealousies that reign among moms at playgroups is something one needs to keep in humorous perspective. "When I received my [playgroup's] itinerary for the next month, I noticed that I had been taken out of the loop (meaning that I would not be hosting this month). When I asked what the problem was, the director informed me that a conversation came up between some moms that they felt ‘inadequate' after visiting my home because it's clean and because some of the kids left wanting things that my kids have that their parents can't afford." Rather than feel ostracized, she goes on to say she is trying to "have a sense of humor" and brush it off. "Hell, I'll have a ‘moms date' and they can play dress up in my closet."
What helps your playgroup run smoothly?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.