Playgroup. A word that sends chills through my body.
I get it. Giving your baby stimulation via sitting in a room filled with fellow littles, while nursery rhymes are sung in the midst of a galaxy of bubbles may be a baby’s idea of heaven. A display of complementary teas, coffees and cakes providing fuel to mums whose babies have not yet learned the art of the crawl (off he goes!) can be rather enticing. The chance to meet other mums who are possibly going through the same things as you can help you take that load off your shoulders.
But for an introverted mum like me, it’s a bit too much stimulation. The uncontrolled amount of noise; even if it’s a sea of happily shrieking babies. The snacks; well I can’t fault a piece of cake. But, the small talk; oh, the small talk. My head goes into spins just thinking about it. Baxter does’t even like bubbles anyway!
Yes, sometimes I feel like a failure for not having delved into the land of the playgroup. While my local “mum friends” attend weekly groups, little B man and I have yet to attend one. At all.
But before I try to slap myself with a ‘crap mum’ comment, I just remind myself of the activities Bax and I enjoy. By ourselves. And then think well, maybe I’m not so crap at all.
To all my fellow introverts, here are a few activities you and your bubs can do alone:
Trips to the museum - The Natural History Museum is our favourite. I often wander around on autopilot, coffee in hand as we learn about animals, beautifully coloured minerals, dinosaurs, earthquakes (hello earthquake room!), the planets…that place has enough wonderment to fill weeks.
looking at layers upon layers of laser cut materials in the science museum
Trips to the zoo - Over christmas my husband T and I invested in year-long passes to the zoo. Endless trips to see a real-life Sophie the Giraffe rates pretty damn high on Baxter’s list of favourite things to do.
spotting sophie for the first time
Walks through the park - Spend time pointing out the leaves on trees, the ever changing colour of the sky, dogs chasing balls, other families enjoying the fresh air, birds (Bax’s only known piece of sign language - oh how his face lights up when I pinch my index finger and thumb together and say ‘tweet tweet!’).
enjoying the most brisk of days walking with my loves
Visits from family and friends - From day one, we’ve made sure Bax was handed over to every family member or friend who stopped by. Even one’s who don’t ‘get’ babies - Bax soon put a smile on their faces. This has always been important for his growth. Who doesn’t love a cuddle?
Cook - Enjoy your own cooking show as you have a show and tell of all the ingredients with your bub. Hold stronger smells like garlic or cinnamon up to their little noses and laugh at their reactions.
tiny baker in the making. i guess this counts as putting his palm in clay...which i never did. mum fail.
Dance and sing - With or without a couple of wooden spoons and a pan.
I have this vivid memory of a two week old Baxter fighting sleep during a 3-6am shift. A desperate me trying everything in my power to calm him back down. Vintage music telly quietly on in the background, helping to shade my fear of the dimly lit kitchen (I’ve never been one for the dark).
On came Hotel California. In hushed whispers I sang ‘On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair’ into his ear as I held out his little arm gently to full extension, and softly shifted around the room.
It worked. He finally slept.
We now reenact that scene (albeit a little more rough and tumble) to his favourites: Coldplay, Michael Kiwanuka, anything on BBC 6 music…who says you need nursery rhymes?
(Unless it’s the itsy bitsy spider. There’s always room for the itsy bitsy spider.)
Read - Anything and everything. Out loud. Picture books, children books, magazines, blogs, the latest best seller (cough - Hold Back the Stars, out this month!). Babies are book nerds in the making. And they love the sound of your voice so it's okay to read something that stimulates you more than That's Not My Teddy over and over again.
bed time story time
I’d love to hear from my fellow introverted mamas! And you extroverted mamas too!
What are your favourite activities outside the playgroup?