The social setup of families in the current times is “Nuclear” – parents and kids, that’s it. The Joint Family system is more or less dwindling away especially in the urban lifestyle. Whatever be the reason psychological or financial; self-imposed or otherwise the links of the joint family system are slowly de-linked and what we are left with is the single or nuclear family structures.
Mine is also a Nuclear Family in a foreign land. With no help around, no near and dear ones around going can be tough sometimes. I can sense it often. Though days are busy with daily chores and kids more often than not I crave for support, emotional and otherwise. I am sure many mothers/wives sailing in the same boat (read living offshore) face such moments – moment of truth. And of course we cannot call our husbands at the drop of a hat lest we end up disturbing their professional fronts. And no matter how many times we use our Skype option to call home a void is still there because of physical distance. And it’s not only us who fall prey to this “I am alone🙁” syndrome our kids also get impacted by the nuclear family set up and foreign domicile at least till the time they start going to school and exploring the world outside. And this is the time they (between the age of 10 months – 3 years) befriend gadgets namely smart phones and tablets. With parents busy in their respective duties and with no grand parents or other family members around to engage them television or phones come to their rescue. They get this addiction (more or less). Such involvement also hampers their social skills along with their health beginning with their eye sight. Sad but true.
What could be the possible solution? How can I keep my kids engaged and entertained. Taking them to parks everyday or just a walk outside…. one probable solution but weather in Brussels can be spoil sport many a Times. What shall I or rather one do?
My sister-in-law once told me about playgroups that her son attends. It’s a very good idea I thought with kids of almost same age together. Then I started to search for playgroups in nearby areas to my place in Brussels. I found few, in fact I am a dormant member of two playgroups on Whatsapp ☺ (never attended because of reasons known to me). But being a member of a group on whatsapp gives me a detailed account of activities going on in playgroups and trust me it’s definitely a place to be for kids.
So as the name suggests is play group only about just play? I would dare to say “NO”. Playgroups are not just about play but beyond that. Let’s see what else:
- Break from monotony: Though we are housewives we do have a set strict routine to follow, if you know what I mean. Day in day out we are churned in that routine. Playgroup meets give mothers a break, much-needed relief from the monotony. Be it at someone’s place or outdoors such meets help refresh moods, that makes a lot of difference. When kids meet their friends we too can make new friends for that much needed emotional support (to have fun as well😉😃) in a foreign land apart from family.
- Develop social skills: When kids go (before schooling begins) out and meet their counterparts again and again at regular intervals and involve in interactive activities be it learning alphabets, recitation of rhymes, colouring, playing outdoors, constructive activities etc. they develop social skills of interacting with peers and manners as well. And the best thing is that I could think of is such meets would keep them away from mobiles and tablets at least for a considerable period of time. Double bonanza, isn’t it?
- Informative/ Educative: When I say informative I don’t mean rocket sciences. When mothers meet in a playgroup there is exchange of ideas (chatter added 😉). Ideas as to how to inculcate habits, healthy recipes, information regarding health issues, vaccinations, schools – you just name it, mothers know it all. And playgroups facilitate healthy exchange of ideas helping us to better ourselves for the betterment of our kids.
- Potluck ( icing on cake😉): I am not sure if it happens all the time because as I mentioned earlier I never participated in playgroup meets but I have a hint of doubt that potluck do happen. If it does then definitely its a feast for taste buds 😋. Well this might not be a serious point to advocate but definitely an icing on cake, isn’t it?
What I mentioned above are few instances of how playgroups could help mothers and kids equally. I am sure those who are active participants of such playgroups would have few more points to list. But the matter of fact is playgroups are not just about play, it definitely play and more. I would definitley love to be actually active in those circles.