Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Men in Groups

In my SAHD group, the dad who posts the playdate schedule asked for feedback. He had two questions: What would make the group better for you? What can you do to make the group better? Here was my answer:

Before I started this job, I heard mothers talk about how playgroups were essential. They shared babysitting, they kept each other sane. I thought I would feel awkward on the playground, with the mothers looking at me like I was a pedophile. I thought I'd go a little crazy with limited adult interaction. Like so many other things in life, my anticipation was way off from reality. I don't think this group offers very much, but I don't think I'm missing much either. It is what it is. If other dads show up, great. If not, oh well. Most times, the mothers are perfectly friendly. In fact, the best playdate Thumper and I ever had was at a playground with 3 moms with kids Thumper's age. No other dads showed up. We played. We talked potty training. It was great.

What would make it better? Maybe rotating group playdates where one or two dads watch a group of kids and the other dads can have some time to run errands by themselves or whatever. Make it an opt-in program, rotate whose turn it is. Maybe split it into a couple of age groups.

Vary the playdates so there are more activities than just outdoor playgrounds, especially during very cold or very hot weather.

Maybe dads parent different from moms and are just more suited to going it solo.

What could I do to make the group better? Maybe show up more, but 2 or 3 a week is about as good as it's going to get for me. I let other dads know when I'm going to be there, which would be helpful if more people did. If I knew I wasn't driving 20 miles to an empty playground, I'd be more likely to go.

I could offer in-home playdates at my house, pizza parties, cupcake decorating parties, or something similar. We've got soccer fields, baseball fields, volleyball pit, etc. at our local park. Informal soccer games where kids could run themselves into exhaustion might be good.

To be honest, the "Off topic! Enough already; take it off board!" smackdown that I got when I first joined dampened my enthusiasm for trying very hard to start my own activities. I think the group would do well to be much more careful about how it presents itself to new members.

Those are my thoughts.

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