Saturday, 17 November 2012

Social Etiquette for playgroups

I think most parents can see the benefits of socializing children at a young age.  That’s why playgroups, play areas, baby classes and any safe enclosed area with soft flooring and tea making facilities are rammed with kids all learning to rub along together.  Socializing kids reportedly has many benefits; increased serotonin levels, decreased decibel levels, cleaner nappies….ok so I’m clearly just making it up but you don’t need me to convince you that your wee one making friends is a good idea.  Potential play dates away from home providing you with much needed free time will do that on it’s own.

I was a gun-ho new twin mum, high on hormones and low on sense sleep.  Taking my girls (Itchy & Scratchy) to classes from three months old and enthusiastically throwing myself into these environments for the benefit of my babies.  Embarrassingly it took me a whole 2 months to work out that a) I HATED these classes b)the girls HATED these classes and c) we just didn’t fit in like the other families did.  My twins were very shy and just screamed in groups of people.  In fact, they screamed whenever anyone came to visit us, or we visited anyone…and this minor phase latest for 15 MONTHS FFS.  I would occasionally try and dip my toe back into the world of playgroups only to be faced with screaming twins and singleton parents gaping at us with half sympathy and half morbid curiosity.  On more than a few occasions I’d have to scarper from a group/class half way through holding back my tears.  Maybe it’s a twin thing.  It’s bad enough them having to share me with each other, let alone adding a load of strangers to the mix.

But thankfully they have turned a corner and I’ve been able to take them to all sorts of toddler activities which is a relief.  They’re still very clingy so I’m there doing everything with them. 

There is one really annoying thing I find about it all which I want to get off my chest.  There I am playing with my kids, getting them interested and praising them for trying new stuff…and I suddenly become a magnet to other kids.  I find it challenging enough splitting my attention between twins, but there I am with about 3 other kids wanting to talk to me.  “Look what I can do”, “watch me do this”, “can you help me up the climbing frame”.  I smile sweetly because I want to show a good example, but what I really want to do is roll my eyes and tell them to go away.  I’m not Mary Poppins, or free babysitter at that. Invariably their mum/dad/childcarer is sitting drinking coffee reading the paper and I’m part irritated and part jealous.  I dream of them running off and leaving me in peace with a decaf coffee and my iphone.  But until them I’m the sucker stuck in a ball pit cornered by the snotty under fives.

And this got me thinking.  Lets all agree to Playgroup Social Etiquette Rules (for under 5’s).  I’ll start it off and you pitch in if there’s something you want added.

  1. Keep an eye on your kid and stop them annoying other parents, especially if they’re parents of twins
  2. If your kid hurts another, have a stern word with them and make them apologise if old enough.
  3. Be extra vigilant when your kids are around babies
  4. If your kid snatches a toy from another, make them give it back and wait until it’s free to play with.


  1. When mine were little I felt exactly the same at playgroups! I never seemed to get to sit down with my tea like the others, the kids all wanted to play with me and I did get annoyed.
    PS Love the "herding wildcats" comparison, so true!

  2. I can add a few to this:

    6. Actually play and interact with your child, instead of camouflaging yourself within the nearest gaggle of gossiping parents.

    7. Make sure your child at least tries to say please and thank you (if they can)- manners cost nothing!

    (I could probably think of a whole load more!!)

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