Playgroup Pitfalls

Should you stay or go? Here's how to decide -- and what to say if you're going.

Bye-Bye Playgroups

My newborn son, who had never fallen asleep during daylight hours, drifted off just as I pulled up. Once inside, I marveled through my sleep-deprived haze at how the other moms not only managed to arrive on time but did so showered and in spit-up-free outfits. "Welcome to playgroup," I heard someone say. In response I tried to be polite and not burst into tears.

When a neighborhood friend invited me to join her already-in-progress community group, she billed it as a regular outing and a way to meet other moms -- both of which I thought I wanted. So with hopes of commiseration and camaraderie over sleepless nights, exploding diapers, and extra postpartum pounds, I gave it a try. But instead of bonding over the fog of new motherhood, I found myself feeling more insecure and isolated. Looking around the room, I quickly noticed that all of the other moms had babies a few months older than mine. Some even had kids old enough to crawl and eat Cheerios. And all appeared to have successfully scaled the new motherhood mountain. I, on the other hand, could barely find base camp. Although the moms were perfectly nice, I clearly was at a different place, and the group's focus reflected that.

The following week, I decided to give it another try. But it just wasn't clicking. Only after weeks of forcing myself to attend did I make the break. I nervously told my friend it was too hard to get there with my son falling asleep before every meeting. She didn't seem to mind at all. (In fact, she left the group a few months later when her maternity leave ended.) When the next Tuesday morning rolled around, I was so happy to not be going. The more I talked to other women, the more I discovered I wasn't alone. As much as joining playgroups is a rite of passage, leaving them is almost as universal. But even when leaving is the clear choice, it's still hard to call it quits. Like so much else in life, when it comes to playgroups, breaking up can be hard to do. Here are five common playgroup pitfalls along with advice on how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

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