Setting Up a Playgroup
Pictures like this make it look like I'm great at making friends. They make me look like I'm the life of the party... a social butterfly... the center of all that is awesome and fun.
Truth is, all of those things USED to describe me. I really was great at making friends. I was a TOTAL social butterfly and inserted myself into the center of everything. However, all of that changed when I became a mother. I slowly began to hang back from social situations. I'd devote all my time to Vincent and allow John to go to parties and social events on behalf of both of us.
However, over the last year or so, I've realized that I missed having a social life. I've missed hanging out with my friends and doing things outside the realm of "Mommy." I've also realized that my reluctance to build a social life outside my comfort zone was detrimental to Vincent. After all, if I didn't have other "Mommy friends" who brought around their kids to play with, he was just as socially ostracized as I was.
So when John and I signed him up for a special class for sensory children, I knew I was being given a special opportunity. There are currently 6 or 7 kids in the class, and they're all Vincent's age. The parents are my age, and they're all dealing with the same struggles John and I have endured in trying to diagnose and treat Vincent. They were PERFECT candidates for the Mommy-group I'd been looking for.
After a few weeks of small talk, I gauged interest. I asked, "Would any of you like to start a Mommy-group with me? We could support each other, offer tips and tricks, and meet up for special play dates given the close age and special needs of our kids."
All of them agreed.
So the next day, I put together a basic website for us to use as a sort of forum to share things like DIY sensory toys, favorite sensory places, and articles on issues like Autism and ADD. I called the center to ask for contact information for those parents I hadn't spoke with. I wanted to let them know we were doing this and to invite them to join in.
Their response made me sorta feel like St. Peter as he was "handed the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven."
Not only was the director in full support of what I was doing, she offered me full run of their facility on Sundays. She'd even staff a therapist (free of charge!) to help run things as the kids used the various therapy centers.
And then, she offered to host seminars on specific topics like Sensory Processing Disorder and even Dyslexia if we so desired it.
HOW CRAZY AWESOME IS THAT?!
Apparently they'd been looking to do this for a long time, but they didn't have anyone with the skill set to put a site together. Since I had already done it (and was already willing to run everything), they wanted to throw their support behind this little group to see it blossom.
She asked if I'd be open to allowing other parents from their center to join in. I said "Yes" but asked if she'd be kind enough to wait a few months until I got things going with my original group. I want to get a feel for how things will run with a smaller number of people, and then when I feel comfortable adding members, I'll happily expand to include others.
But can you imagine??? I was calling for an e-mail address and she gave me keys to the center. That's just... God is so good. So incredibly, awesomely good.
And I guess that's the reward you can expect when you step outside your comfort zone to multiply the love, folks. For so long, I've been content to stay within my cocooned little shell of a life, but I knew I needed to change not only for myself, but for Vince, and look... what a blessing it turned out to be!
So that's where I've been the last few days. I've been busily fleshing out a forum / website for this parent-group and trying to come up with a game plan for how everything is going to run.
For those of you who have experience doing this sort of thing, PLEASE message me! Also, for those of you who have good online resources for things like DIY sensory things (toys, games, etc), I'm all ears!
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