October 27, 2006

Q: Tips For Great Playgroups, SAHD Groups?

group_hug.jpgIn addition to being a source of fun, entertainment, note-comparing, germ-swapping, and polysyllabic conversation, good playgroups can save an at-home parent's sanity, too.

But for a whole host of reasons, they can also be awkward or even unwelcoming for dads. And if you're not plugged into the girlfriends network or hanging out on urbanbaby all day, it can even be hard to find a playgroup in the first place.

A DT reader an SAHD with a 3-mo daughter emailed wondering if there are any good dad groups in lower Manhattan [he's in the East Village], and though I didn't know of any offhand, I thought I'd open the question up a bit:

1) First, anyone know some good, daddy-friendly downtown playgroups?
2) How do you go about finding a playgroup, or a parents' group?
3) What makes a good playgroup? [e.g., location, kid's age range, demographic similarity, degree of planning, etc.]
4) What's it like starting a dads' group, what works, what doesn't, and what does it take?
5) Any playgroup success or horror stories that others can learn from? [Or, barring that, that are impossible not to share?]


I haven't attempted an all-dad's playgroup. I find I get along well with some of the moms from my wife's former mom's group, and so I've just continued to hang out with them and a few other dads. that dynamic seems to work for us. With winter coming, things'll probably become a little more formal, rather than just casually meeting at the playground, we'll need to schedule stuff at people's homes.

I think it would be tough to try and have an all dads playgroup. That said, I notice that a lot of us men gather together at our local playground, and don't necessarily talk about dad stuff, but just whatever.

[tip: don't start a "playgroup"; start an "NFL fantasy football group that meets in the middle of the day" -ed.]

my husband is a SAHD in Dumbo - next to the Brooklyn Bridge - easy to get to lower Manhattan. We have an 11 mo old. He has had a hard time getting into some playgroups. He's been to the local library for reading hours, the local coffee houses (Tea Lounge) for sing a longs and the playground. While the other moms are nice, they're not inviting him along or over for playdates. Seems a bit uncomfortable I guess to invite a man over to your home even with a kid. Also lots and lots of nannies who all hang out with each other. The other issue is that even if you find a few other SAHDs their kids may not be the same age as yours and that can make it difficult for the kids to play together. We found another SAHD in Dumbo by posting on the Dumbo parents yahoo group. My suggestion would be to try to find some local parent yahoo groups and/or Urban Baby and try to post. in the meantime, find out where the local parents go and see if any dads show up - library, gym for tumbling hour, mommy & me sing a longs, etc., the local Y - etc. maybe this site can set up an area of this blog for local SAHD's to talk about setting up playdates??

I never saw the point in a SAHD-only playgroup, and I'd think it would be hard to round up enough of them with similar age kids. I started a playgroup when our son was about 1, composed of kids we met at the playground. We did happen to end up with one other SAHD, but that was 2 out of 6, the rest being SAHMs. We had the playgroup for 2 years until preschool schedules became a factor, and it was fantastic. I asked people to join based on which kids and parents we got along with, and never had the feeling it was considered awkward for a SAHD to be asking.

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