Which park group would you chose to attend? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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In the fall I will have DD1 6yrs home schooled, DD2 3yrs, and a newborn.  My girls have very high social needs, and so do I.  I'm looking at a few play groups and wondering which ones I should schedule around for the fall.  Even without the newborn, we tend to run late, and like to stay late at the park.  My girls run off and play for HOURS.  Park days are free, unstructured, outside, and social in nature, just the sort of thing I want us doing.


Group A  - A church associated play group.  This is a small group, from our UU church community that meets at local parks.  The adults are my friends, and I feel pretty comfortable with them.  Next year the two regular attendees close to DD1's age will be in full time school, so the kids nearest DD1's age will be a not too regular 4.5yr old and a pretty regular 3.5 yr old.  There are also several 1.5-2.5 yr olds who will be attending, and I anticipate a few young toddlers coming more frequently, but I highly doubt we'll end up with more big kids.  The younger kids are very much DD2's friends.  The group packs lunches and stays for hours. 


Group B - A well established home school group.  On paper this group is a perfect fit for my family.  It's a secular group, they meet every week do or die at a park and stay all day, the moms are very like minded to me.  It's a casual and inclusive group, and the parks they meet at are local to me.  I've been on their list since DD1 was 2.5yrs old, and gone through several phases of trying to attend park day regularly, but somehow I never quite felt like I belonged.  The group can be sort of clique-ish - not so much purposefully excluding people but it's easy to feel out of place in the group (other families have said this too).  DD1 knows a boy in the group she befriended last year, and has seen and played with a few times since.  There are plenty of kids in her general age range.  I sort of know many of the moms in the group, and DD1 sort of knows several of the kids.


Group C - A small start up home school group.  This group is sort of a spin off of Group B and includes a mom I really like with a little girl DD1 really befriended through Group B.  There's another mom I know from LLL years ago, who I like, but her kids aren't really friends with mine (boys a few years offset in ages from my girls).  There are lots of girls close to DD1's age (boys would be fine too, but the group has almost all girls her age), though very few close to DD2's age.  We've attended this group a handful of times this spring.  The whole group leaves in mass at about 12:30 as soon as one family leaves.  It feels like it's a 2 hour scheduled activity, not a day at the park.  No one packs lunch.  My girls are invariably frustrated with everyone leaving just as they were getting settled into playing.  Right now we're coming from a dance class and can't arrive until about 11, but next year with a newborn I doubt I'll do much better than that.  I haven't made new friends in the group, but I certainly feel welcome and it's worth giving it a shot.


Group D - A home school group that meets twice a month, generally on the same day as Group B (currently Group A meets that day too, but it's moving for the fall).  It's officially a field trip group, but they also do a monthly park day.  The group is from all over our metropolitan area, and meetings are generally at least 45 minutes from us, often more like 60-90.  I like the vibe of the group, but with the drive times and the overlap with other park groups, I've hardly gone at all, so we really haven't made friends in the group (which leaves us less inclined to go...).  If we schedule around Group B, I may attend this group more, though with a newborn, it's hard to say.


I'm trying to pick 2 groups to schedule around.  Opinions?

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#2 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 02:22 PM
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I suggest b and d. B seems to meet your kids needs and you can bring a book if you aren't fitting in and outings sound fun. If you can do three though a, b, and d sound like they will meet your children's needs and yours, though a sounds like a group your oldest child is outgrowing quickly unless she is fond of playing with very young children.
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#3 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 02:25 PM
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I would go to all of them for a couple of weeks before deciding.  Are there things you need to schedule so many months in advance?  Or can you schedule them once you figure out the playgroup thing?

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#4 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 03:04 PM
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I would do group B and group C.  Group C seems like the best fit and the real only issue is the time.  Since you are picking your schedule now, I think you could schedule around that to be there near the start time.  Granted, a newborn is hard, but really a 2 hours time frame wouldn't bother me in the list.  I rarely have the patience to stay at the park longer than 2 hours anyway.   Group B sounds like something that maybe with regular attendance you could make friends and start to enjoy.


Group A would be hard I think, with your DD always being the oldest one there, and as she gets older that age gap is only going to widen, as I assume the next oldest kids could easily end up in school or preschool.


Group D sounds like too much driving for me, especially with a newborn.

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#5 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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To answer a few questions:


Yes, I'm scheduling fall activities in the next month.  Classes fill up, especially at preferred times, with preferred instructors, or when there are concurrent classes for my girls.


Group B meets DD1's needs pretty well, but not DD2's or MINE (though I keep telling myself it has real potential, we did attend almost every week of the 2010-2011 school year).  I really need the social aspect of a regular park group too.  The idea of going with a book sounds beyond miserable to me (and I do love to read).  I'm trying to stay mindful of both DD1 and DD2's needs.  DD2 will be losing her status as the youngest, but she's too young for me to be trying to really do schooling with.  She's at least as social as DD1, and is genuinely attached to her friends.


We are NOT morning people.  Not a one of us.  My kids generally sleep till 9am (DH arrives home from work around 7-8pm and we do family dinners and evening routines.  I have NO interest in shifting this up.  It's one of the big benefits of home schooling).  The earliest start time I will consider is 10am and that's a stretch.  I prefer more like 10:30-11:00.  A newborn will likely only make that worse.  We really like to stay at the park for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably 3+.  The 10:30-12:30 time range is pretty frustrating for all three of us.

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#6 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 04:01 PM
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I'm jealous you have four park groups to pick from.  I am just thinking about creating one because there isn't one around that I know of, or that the people on the local email list know of.


I think if you need a park group for YOU, I'd pick one based on your needs and one based on those of your kids.  I would think group A fits for you and your younger DD, and then whichever group is best for your older DD.  I'd be inclined to suggest group B.  It sounds like group C just annoys you all, even though you like the people you don't like the way it works.  Group D is too much driving.



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#7 of 12 Old 04-21-2012, 10:40 PM
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as you write this - it seems the answers are getting clearer for you.


the thing is you cant have it all (seriously i am not trying to be a smart mouth). something has to give. i would prioritize the classes first and then factor the playgroups around you. 


seriously i think you might be overthinking things. 

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#8 of 12 Old 04-22-2012, 06:58 AM
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I think I'd go with A and B, as long as you think your older daughter will have fun at the A get-togethers.

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#9 of 12 Old 04-22-2012, 11:08 AM
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I'm a fan of A and B.   Even though YOU don't have friend at B yet, you most likely will before too long. None the less, esp in the short term, I would keep going to a park day where you see moms you know and feel comfortable around.


We homeschooled for many, many years, and the number one reason why families quite homeschooling (in my very un-scientific study) is that mom neglects her own needs, so eventually crashes.  This group will meet YOUR needs for at social outlet better than the other groups at least for a while.


Also, your older DD isn't that much older than the other kids. It's shouldn't be her only social outlet, but it isn't going to hurt her to be the big kid for a few hours a week)


I think B has real potential for your family long term. There's a lot to be said for a well established, mellow homeschool group.


Although D could be good later, right now you really aren't at a phase where going on a ton of overly organized field trips is going to be easy or fun. Give it a couple of years.


C sounds stressful. They just aren't on the same wavelength.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 12 Old 04-22-2012, 01:10 PM
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I'd do Group B, and focus on trying to develop a stronger relationship (for you) with a couple of the moms in the group -- i.e. get together outside of the park day, have them over for a playdate or informal homeschool session. It sounds like the best fit & you just need to work on feeling more included. smile.gif

Group C sounds stressful & kind of pointless. Group D sounds like a lot of driving, but maybe worth it if you click with the other families. Group A sounds like a really good second option, and one kid always has to be the oldest, right?

There is also the option of choosing a few families from each group & starting up your own group that might better fit your needs.

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#11 of 12 Old 04-22-2012, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone.  I'm really appreciating the replies.  We do have 4 great groups where we feel welcome, but none of them are the perfect fit.  When DD2 was a tiny newborn I started my own play group.  It had a good 1-2 year run, and I'm glad I did it, but I won't be doing that again with a newborn this fall.  I had a rough time with PPD after DD2, and I think feeling isolated and unsupported was one of my biggest issues.  I'm in a much better place this go round, and I'm pretty committed to doing all I can this go round to not be in that position again. 


I'm pretty set on continuing with Group A.  DD1 generally plays quite well with littler kids, and is currently the oldest in the group, but not by as much.  She's comfortable with the group already.  I think it'll be ok, but it definitely can't be her only social outlet.


I had high hopes for Group C being a great fit.  I'm pretty frustrated with the early leave time.  The one mom I really like has commented that she thinks it's a weird dynamic with the group too, so I half hope it'll get better... but I'm hesitant to depend on it.


I have given Group B a solid try, but I should likely do it again.  This year when Group A ended up overlapping, I initially intended to attend both sometimes, but we quickly reverted to just Group A, where we all felt more comfortable.  Now that DD1 is really really "school aged" we may fit in better.  I might try to make an effort to attend a few mom's night outs or mom book clubs with that group in the next few months to make some more solid connections for myself.  Besides, they meet on Fridays and I'd sort of prefer keep that day open from classes and such anyway. 


I definitely agree that Group D is too much driving, especially with a newborn.  I may do a neat field trip here or there, but I doubt I'll attend regularly.

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#12 of 12 Old 04-22-2012, 09:50 PM
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A and B sound like groups I would like.  I'd probably do the days that are B and D since it's 2 groups and you like staying all day....like me.  ;)  I used to do this all the time with a bunch of moms...who all started homeschooling, and we are, well, NOT.  :(  but I am happy with where they go to school...just not fully happy that I feel like a sell-out.

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