Begrudgingly, after much deliberation I have started to attend our local toddler group with my youngest. When Alice and Louie were young, my cousins and I would take our babies to a certain group which we all enjoyed, mainly because we were our own clique and didn’t have to communicate with other human beings. However, once their children reached school age, I was left to attend on my own with my two. Immediately I started to feel less comfortable. For what reason? I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was a strange vibe going on. I decided to switch groups to a more local one and left within half hour because it was so weird and then I finally found another that I persevered with, for Louie and Alice’s sake, but clock – watched the whole two hours as the minutes painfully ticked by in slow motion.
Here are some of the observations I have noted over my time at toddler groups:
This seems to rear its ugly head from the birth of your baby and continue steadily thereafter. For some strange reason some mothers decide to make EVERYTHING a competition. From how many stitches you received to patch your underneath back together, to whether or not you had pain killers at the birth, whether it was natural or C – section, breast or bottle… and so it relentlessly continues. I have heard some absurd and quite frankly ludicrous conversations at toddler group with mums basically trying to out do each other with their opposing toddlers intellect and physical development. One will be claiming their little darling can read, while the other claims theirs can solve equations, meanwhile both toddlers are sat happily munching crayons.
Toddler Group Mafia
As in all areas of parenting, here they are once again, the cliques. Ones to watch out for at toddler group:
- Competitive mums (as above)
- Take a Break mums: basically there for the coffee and biscuit which they indulge in while sat glued to their phones, whilst their cherub is scalping another child in the sandpit, to which they remain completely oblivious.
- The Hygienists: armed with anti bacteria wipes, furiously sanitising any surface their child may touch next.
- New mums: huddled together with their precious bundles in a circle of scrum like, solidity ready to intercept any wild, hell raising toddler that may approach their new-born treasures.
- Dads: ignored and sat looking terrified.
Nursery Rhyme Time
The general timetable of the toddler group allows around 15 minutes at the end for wonderful, bonding sing-song time. As the toys are tidied, the mothers and children will gather to sit united in song. The mothers I find most amusing/slightly disturbing in these scenarios are the ones that force their child to participate and I literally mean force. Their toddler will be kicking, writhing and screaming under the vice grip of a mother adamant they will enjoy it, while they sing enthusiastically to drown out the harrowing yowls of the victim.
It was during toddler group that I discovered something which changed my life forever. The first time I went along, despite my voice resembling that of a train derailing, I was enthusiastic to sing along. However as the singing commenced and I sung with gusto, heads began to turn and frowns were cast my way. Basically many of the classic nursery rhymes I was singing completely the wrong words to. What were these new versions the other parents sang? Red faced I mimed my way through the rest of them. After the group I Googled lyrics to the rhymes sang and realised to my horror my words were wrong! How could this be? I called my mum and dad who were both in hysterics after confessing to making up some new words and adding bits on to the ends when we were children. Years I had wondered why that little boy had lived down a drain in Baa Baa Black Sheep!
Most mothers want their child to develop social skills at these types of groups. However toddlers and socialising are not always successful combinations. For example my youngest will hold on to a toy till the bitter end if he even senses another child wanting to play with it. Toddler stand offs are common place as well as full on tug of wars over certain toys. Apologetic mothers helicopter, whispering soothing parental phrases to defuse the situation while trying to prise chubby fingers off of the toy in question. Other case scenario to the apologetic parent is what I like to call the “Third Person Parent”… “Now, now Liam, Mummy doesn’t like it when Liam doesn’t share” All said in an outrageously over the top theatrical tone. Or there is the “Do Nothing Parent” who simply let’s their child wrestle yours to the ground and take the toy for themselves.
Thankfully the toddler group I have began attending is a lovely group and myself and Liam thoroughly enjoy it. If you find the right one they can be wonderful places to let your child run out their energy and enjoy themselves. After toddler group Liam and I always enjoy an amazing afternoon nap and I feel content that I have given him time with other children and fulfilled a “motherly duty.” Obviously by this stage I have also learnt the correct words to all nursery rhymes.
I would love to hear any tales from toddler group. Do you enjoy taking your children or do you dread it each week? Looking forward to hearing your comments and stories.