I remember taking my first child to her first playgroup. I thought that I was boldly stepping out into the new world of being a parent and I did so with some trepidation. Sally was so small, so vulnerable and this was a big step for her. And what about me! We walked in and were immediately welcomed by other parents who were closely monitoring the antics of their wee children. It was fun, it was exciting and it was a place that gave meaning to those wonderful values of sharing and caring.
That was 40 years ago and I am now walking to the same place with a small grandchild holding tightly to my hand. Memories flood back to me and I admit to being a bit nervous. It is not a frightening thing, I know what to expect and I know that my granddaughter is going to find this a place of fun and laughter. I pause at the door, but I do enter!
Australian families have been getting together at Playgroups for over 40 years and children who took their first steps on the play mats have since taken their own children to their local playgroups. The tradition repeats itself. Parents who took their children to playgroups 40 years ago now take their grandchildren to playgroups and still, like then, create new friendships.
Playgroups might have had their beginnings many years ago but they are still a place that welcomes the young and the not so young in equal measure. So it was today. Today I met new people, grandparents like me, and we talked about those days when it was our children who were the playgroup kids.
Today Grandparents have many roles in terms of supporting their children and grandchildren. From occasional babysitting to providing holiday and after school care to caring for their grandchildren on a daily basis to having full time parental
responsibility. Many grandparents are now involved in much more than golf and gardening. Grandparents know that child care is active and demanding. Just how many times can you draw a rainbow or dig a hole simply to see what’s down there? We don’t count the times but we do know that in all its moments it’s a world that’s just so rewarding.
Grandparents know, because they have been there before, that at playgroups our grandchildren can enjoy the simple things of childhood in the company of others. Grandparents know that they can, like they did before, enjoy their excitement in the
company of others, well maybe those others are a fair bit older than the kids, perhaps a fair bit older than their parents.
Grandmother Sylvia commented about her Grandparent’s playgroup. She said, “Playgroup is amazing – meeting other grandparents caring for their grandchildren. I get so many answers, friendships, fun and social connections. Everyone at the playgroup is welcoming and open. My grandchildren are learning from others, sharing, developing social skills for school, and making new friends. It is my favourite time of the week”.
ACT Playgroups would like to hear from Grandparents interested in attending our existing Grandparents’ playgroups or who might like to work with us to establish new grandparent playgroups in other part of the ACT. Give it a go. You can only come away with a smile on your face.