When Enrique was born over 6 years ago, I was in Columbus OH and knew very few people, no one with kids. -- I was so afraid he would be antisocial and the race was on to find him some playmates!
Actually before he was born, I met a few moms online -- I can't think of the name of the forum right now, but it was active when I was pregnant but then just quickly became nonactive.. So I met a mom named Laurie just before I had Enrique to walk in the parks, we met a few times and this evolved to a lil playgroup -- which was fun... The problem was all the cool moms I met lived in the burbs and I lived in the city! I wanted to take turns going to peoples homes that lived close to me -- surely there were families near me right?
We enjoyed doing fun things like going to the Columbus library, COSI, and the zoo -- which were all FABULOUS places, but I felt like he needed more interaction (yes even before he could crawl).
So I started looking with the church we were going to, but the large mega church we were in, would not *allow* us to change *home groups*. There were no other kids in our homegroup -- so we decided to change churches.
We started going to Vineyard. I loved it there, -- kids galore! Kids Kids everywhere, ofcourse Enrique was still a little too small to enjoy everything. We joined a group called *While They Are Young* and I met some AMAZING Christian women! This is where I began to realize playdates weren't just for kids, but moms too! The meets were every Friday -- having worship in a room in the mega church, with childcare -- so the kids played while we participated in worship, then on the 4th Friday we took turns hosting at our houses. It was a good thing, no one lived really close to me in my urban neighborhood, but it was fun for me and fun for Enrique. I loved it, the adult conversations were mainly about pregnancy and kids, but I got some great advice and I was able to help others with my experience as a mom and as a NICU nurse - breastfeeding/pumping expert! I would still be going today (well if we hadn't been shuffled state to state) but as usual my life changed.
I gave birth to my second child *JC* when Enrique was 22 months old, a few weeks later my husband was laid off from work. I went from part time work and playdates to doing what was best for my family which meant I worked every single Thurs, Fri, and Sat night -- 12+ hr shifts.. (I do love being a NICU nurse).. So bye bye playdates with the church.... I did meet lots of great women and a few actually did live closer to me, Maischa and Joanna - We continued to meet up when we could in our busy lives!!!
So we did this for about a year -- me working, Jon caring for the boys. Then he found a *contract* in New Jersey! What was supposed to be a few months ended up being almost 2 years.. When the boys and I joined him about 6 months after he left, I went as a traveler nurse and worked for about 6 months. We both mutually agreed that I should *stay home*. That is when the super fun *playdates* began. We moved to a temporary location in Bradley Beach NJ http://bradleybeachonline.com/photos/. We rented a vacation rental condo -- it was January so it was a deal -- a *winter rental*. I began to look for playdates, again did the usual park, beach, and library fun stuff. I was getting ready to post an ad myself when I saw one pop up on craigslist. The girl who posted the ad was an outgoing, mom of 2 going on 3, teacher who had also just moved to the area. We picked a day and time each week, reached out to find a few other moms and we mostly just hung out at each others houses - the kids had unstructured play, we had coffee and conversation! These conversations were more than just the usual pregnancy/baby/kid, I really got to know these women, we all were very similar in many ways. We exercised together, went to the beach and parks, and these are the moms I still talk to today, along with Joanna and Maischa.
So of course nothing lasts forever and unfortunately my husbands contract came to an end and back to Columbus we go -- and me back to working -- and pregnant with the 3rd. During this time period we did a little different type of playdates -- Homeschooling meetups -- we were homeschooling Enrique. Again met tons of very cool *families* and many I do still keep in contact with. Jon was actually the one to take the boys to most of the playdates/activities -- the focus was a little more structures, with crafts and lessons, but it was great, I enjoyed preparing for the few I hosted. The group was rather large so usually we met at a room in the library. But again Jon did most of that!
Sooooooo for a very different post I will talk about my fathers death and how I ended up where I am now -- living with my mother with my 3 boys, while trying to rent our home in Columbus, and frequently visiting my husband who is living in the DC area -- .. SO here I am in a VERY small unincorporated town -- Clear Creek WV! Playdates were actually the last thing on my mind, there are more kids around here and my boys are in heaven in WV with all that nature brings here. A friend of mine from High School - Elizabeth posted something about wanting to have more interactions for her then 2 year old, so I excitedly suggested *PLAYDATES*.. So Elizabeth and I decided to make a page on facebook - http://www.facebook.com/groups/232556163476710/ then host/invite and see what happens!!! We also decided to encourage a craft and snacks to be provided by the host my not mandatory ofcourse! I learned from Heather flexibility is key to keeping a fun and stress free playdate! Most of us that have joined are pretty crafty! We are meeting weekly - Thursdays @ 10am - The holidays ofcourse gave us some time off and I have been traveling a lot so I haven't made it to all of them.
Today we met, I was the host, I made my mom come too (a preschool teacher who quit working when my father died). We met at our small church. Enrique was my *Big Helper* as he is now homeschooled, he decided to do a craft first, since Valentines Day is coming up, that was easy -- we laid out a *heart puzzle* to paint and a large foam for each kid to decorate. My 3 boys were there and 2 other boys and moms! Then they played in our Valentines Day Sensory Box we had made last week, they all LOVED it, We placed butcher paper under the sensory box -- they could of played with that all day!
Enrique also led the kids in a few games -- duck duck goose, doggie doggie wheres your bone, and ring around the rosie. My mom the genius teacher who always knows what to do and say then told some stories and had the kids involved -- Goldilocks and the 3 Bears and by request The Three Little Pigs. Somewhere in the middle of it all, they enjoyed some bananas and some sweet treats I picked up at Krogers. I also made coffee and I think mom and I were the only drinkers.. (I am usually picky about coffee -- but that was good)...
I think a typical playdate should be 2 hours -- but almost all of my playdates go longer! I am flexible and I enjoy the conversation!
So many of many others over the past 7 years have asked why do I do playdates? My simple answer was -- so my kids can have more interactions with other kids... I also LOVE to meet new people and I want my children to be exposed to a very diverse mass amount of people! We all learn from meeting new people! Miascha was from Africa, so had so much experience to teach me, we both married out of our race. I met a girl named Ashley who regularly goes to Honduras to help the poor, since my husband is from Honduras, I loved hearing her stories and seeing her pictures. Heather has traveled to every state in the nation! I met a girl who married a guy from Ireland, a mom who owns a magazine, I learned to scrapbook from some, make natural lotion from another. I have met people from all over the world in my life and this is just one mean to work on my purpose in life -- to make a positive impact on as many people as possible!
Please share with me your favorite things to do at playdates? How about rules? Also please tell me some playdate disasters!!!!
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