“Just keep attending, even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll slowly start to meet people and you will feel more comfortable.” Those are famous last words bestowed upon me from a friend of mine when I became a new member with South Salem Mom’s Club. With her advice in mind, I attended every playgroup, meeting, social gathering, and field trip planned during my first year as a member (even when I didn’t want to). And she was right! After a while I was no longer the newbie and I had no fear of asking for help as a stay at home mom. In fact, I started to take on more of a leadership role within our chapter and it felt so good to support other parents as we trudged along the trials and tribulations of raising young children. I started to look forward to every gathering of our group with a sense of belongingness and sisterhood. In fact, I still consider many of those mommies I met my closest friends to this very day!
Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to attending social events with young children. Some parents avoid events altogether for fear their child might “act up” or because they just are too busy and can’t carve out the extra time. On the contrary, some parents actually need social events because it finally gives them a chance to engage in adult conversation with someone who knows that the struggle of parenting is real. For whatever reason, if attending events isn’t exactly your personal cup o’ tea, try reassessing the situation from the lens of your child and see the benefits of s/he being able to practice social skills. For example, ask yourself:
- “How could I use this chance to help Tommy practice turn taking (or patience, or graciousness , etc,)?”
- “How can I model for Sarah what to say when someone asks my name?”
- “How can I take advantage of this story time to show Mikey that lots of kids his age and grown ups like to sing fingerplays?”
- “What’s the message I’m sending to Tracy if I tend to always avoid crowded parks?”
As parents, I dare you to embark on an adventure with your child and attend one new event each month with your child; whether it be community sponsored, within your church, or even just a new store you’d like to check out. If visiting a new setting is asking you to step too far out of your comfort zone, I challenge you to continue along your already-set activities with your child. This time, however, make it a point to introduce yourself to someone new and his/her child. Look at the opportunity as a win-win situation. You, the parent, has a chance to meet and network with another fellow parent while at the same time creating a setting for your child to practice social skills.