I never thought I would be even thinking this let alone writing about it, but her I am 12 months in to attending toddler groups and I’ve even been to one this morning. I was very skeptical about these groups as first, I imagined cliquey mum’s, tired looking toys and a haven for catching colds and other bugs. Some of my preconceived ideas were correct but that won’t stop me from going every week. Yeah you will get mum’s that stay in their friendship groups wherever you go and yep some of the toys could do with a new lease of life and yep you and your child will probably catch a cold, but that’s all part of it! I now look at the bigger picture at how beneficial these groups are to me and my daughter and it’s why we go 3 times a week, every week without fail. They can be so daunting at first, especially if you have no one to go with but literally no one cares, once your through the door, you can relax and realise we are all in the same boat. So, here is my top 10 on why I think toddler groups are great (even if they do smell a bit sometimes)
1 – Cheap – As you know, I’m all about the budget and toddler groups are perfect for this. The ones I go to are either free or you pay a small donation but in return you get hot drinks, biscuits and squash for the kids so you always get your money’s worth. Your child also gets 1-2 hours of playing with different toys and making new friends which is always lovely to see. It makes me so happy watching my daughter go off and have fun so that’s totally worth 50p!
2 – Often near – If you dont know of any in your area, have a look online or if you’re passing churches, community centres and play schools, look out for posters and flyers offering information on what toddler groups are on in your area. There are a lot around, though sometimes they aren’t advertised very well. Also try facebook as many groups have facebook accounts or friends with children or even libraries. You are bound to find at least one in your area that you could brave it to!
3 – Refreshments – As I mentioned previously, a lot of the toddler groups offer food and drink if you pay a small donation. One group that I go to, I pay £1.50 and they supply, tea, coffee, toast, biscuits, water, squash and when it’s the end of term they have a party with a buffet at no extra cost. So you don’t even have to cater for your toddler or yourself as its already supplied to you!
4 – Energy release – These places are also great to let of steam, for your toddler mainly but also for you if you get a chance to talk to other mums. There is so much going on and so many different toys to try out that they want to do it all and all at the same time. They burn off loads of energy too which is also great because then you might get a decent nap out of them. It’s such a lovely feeling putting a tired toddler in their pushchair knowing that they will be going down for a nap soon, ahhhh heaven.
5 – New environment – Staying at home all day can be boring for both of you, the same tv shows are played on loop and the toys are all the same as they were yesterday and the day before that. It’s great to get out and brave a group for the different faces, different toys, different smells, different surroundings and its really breaks up the day so that when you do go home it’s actually quite nice to be back. A change is as good as a rest, or so they say!
6 – Interaction – It’s great for our babies to interact with all the different people at toddler groups. They can learn from them, learn how to play and learn how not to behave all whilst getting prepared for nursery and school. It’s a good start to learning basic life skills that they will need later on in life.
7 – Arts and Crafts – Some toddler groups offer Arts and Crafts which can get VERY messy but it is also a great way for them to learn and create crafts that you can proudly (uh-um) stick on your fridge. Everyone loves toddler artwork because it’s cute, even if it’s just a messy handprint they’ve done, why not frame it and give it to a grandparent for Christmas? It’s a lovely token that has been made by their grandchild and who doesn’t want that!?
8 – Chat to other Mums – or not, whatever floats your boat. I am quite shy and introverted and really struggle to spark up conversation with someone new. I know a lot of other people aren’t like me though and can talk to absolutely anyone. I made friends through MUSH first which is like a mum tinder so I didn’t have to venture to these groups by myself. I really recommend joining the app and meeting other mums this way as it seems less daunting as its not face to face!
9 – Educational – I really do believe that our babies and toddlers learn a lot from these groups just by learning from others. Physically, emotionally and mentally they watch how other kids are doing certain things and then they will try to copy them themselves. Learning to walk, talk, share, play, crawl whatever it is, I do think they get a head start by seeing other children doing it first. This is great if they don’t have a sibling to copy from also.
10 – Routine – I find that by going to 3 different groups a week, we get into a really good routine and my daughter always know what’s happening because we go so regularly. It suits her down to the ground because her nap time is just after they finish anyway so she has a lovely morning of waking up, breakfast, walk to toddler group, play and then nap. Kids like routine, they like to know what’s coming because it makes them feel safe and secure. Toddler groups are a bit like a less organised nursery so getting them into this kind of routine early will benefit them when they do eventually go to nursery and school.
So thats my list! Again, I still can’t believe I actually wrote it! If you are like me and the thought of walking into a group of people you don’t know is terrifying then trust me I completely understand. It is not like me to go to these groups but I am so glad I have. Try and drag a friend or relative along if your unsure, you might just like it 🙂
I would love to know your thoughts or opinions on these groups or whether your view has changed at all since you’ve attended a toddler group. Please let me know in the comments below!