How To Survive Playgroup.

If the idea of walking into a room full of angry babies, exhausted mums and germ ridden toys fills you with dread then know that you are not alone.

The whole idea terrified me and I’ve performed stand up comedy.

Playgroups can be noisy, intimidating places and as the responsible adult it is generally considered unacceptable to burst into tears and throw yourself on the floor screaming if you decide you don’t really like it.

But playgroups are worth the effort. In time you will learn to love them, so much so that by the time July comes round you’ll be horrified at the thought of going cold turkey over the summer holidays.

We do at least 3 playgroups a week – as we have recently moved I don’t even have friends to gossip with. I have been to groups in London and Yorkshire and there are essentially no differences between the two (Yorkshire playgroups feature more songs about farm animals and tractors).

If you do decide you hate playgroup it’s always worth trying another to see if it suits you better: I once went to a playgroup where I was the oldest mum there.

By 20 years.

I go because my children love playgroups and I love my children.

I go because I see how much they learn being surrounded by other children.

I go because if I stayed at home with a 2 year old and a 1 year old every day I would look just like Granny Mummy Garraway by the end of the week.

Here are the 10 things you should know about playgroup.

1. There will be tea and coffee.

It will be awful.

It will also often be served in cups and saucers.  Like an evil round of Total Wipeout sleep deprived adults are challenged to carry scalding hot drinks through a room packed with toy cars and manic children.

If you want good coffee go to Caffe Nero. Entertain your own children.

 2. There will be toys.

Lots of them.

Take a moment to look around the room and marvel at all its hideous plastic glory. Thank the Lord that none of these toys are cluttering up your own home.

There will be one toy that will cause 98% of all trouble.

Every single child will want to play with this one toy. It will probably be a pram, a slide or a ride on car. This is the law of the playgroup: The more toys there are in a room the more children will be attracted to just one toy.

3. There will be germs.


You will catch colds, coughs, sneezes, tummy bugs, slap cheek, foot and mouth and anything else that is going.


The other option is isolating your child from all contact with other children and letting them catch everything when they start school. The decision is yours.

4. There will be painting or crafts.

Just as Grandma’s house is the ideal place for small children to bake, playgroup is the perfect spot for painting and crafts. Remember to admire whatever crappy effort your child produces and try not to be caught stuffing it in the bin outside the church door.

5. There will be one child sitting quietly doing puzzles.

This will not be your child.

I had hoped this role was allocated on some sort of rota and that one week it would be my daughter quietly amusing herself whilst others looked on in awe. I seem to have been left off the rota.

(If I had a child who sat quietly and entertained themselves I would not need playgroup I would be sitting at home watching This Morning, painting my toenails and writing a blog about  what a piece of piss small children are to look after. )

6. There will be one single male.

He will look totally out of his depth.

His partner will either be heavily pregnant or have recently given birth. Basically the situation at home is so terrifying he has decided playgroup is the better option.

Women go to playgroup because they want to get out of the house, men are sent to playgroup by women who want to get them out of the house.

7. There will be well meaning volunteers.

They will either be brilliant with small children or totally ineffectual. Who cares? They have volunteered to spend a morning picking wooden bricks up off the floor that your children have thrown.They are wonderful, misguided people.

8. There will be snack.

To work out what type of snack simply look inside the cavity of any toy where you will find a handy guide in the form of a half eaten snack from last week.

9. There will be singing.

It will be awful.

A platoon of Gareth Malone’s could not make a playgroup singing session sound good.

You will sing Sleeping Bunnies. Twice.  Despite the fact that it is a song with no discernible tune.

You will sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat and learn some dubious wildlife survival tips.

You will sing a sexist, outdated version of The Wheels On The Bus. (Altogether now:   The Mummy’s on the bus read Gra – Zi – Ah.)

10. There will be tidying up.

It will be wonderful.

If tidying up at home involved throwing everything in a plastic box and hiding it in a cupboard my life would be improved immeasurably.

So there you are playgroup for beginners.


33 thoughts on “How To Survive Playgroup.

  1. A perfect description. Not forgetting the endless conversations about the best way to puree carrot, guaranteed to make you lose the will to live.

  2. Brilliant! Describes my weekly experience of Playgroup perfectly. There are weekly fights over the cars and ride-ons. It’s great spectator material when it’s not your child involved in the scrap!

  3. My two-and-a-half-year-old son has a man-crush on the vicar and will elbow much larger children out of the way to sit next to him (or better still on him) at story time. (At Easter we heard about “Jesus’ Very Bad Day”).

    • My daughter likes to stand right in front of who ever is leading the singing and stare at them in an unfriendly manner. I have not told her to do this….

  4. This is my normal Thursday morning with my grandson. When it comes to tidy-up time, the children all rush about shouting “Tidy-up time! Tidy-up time!” while not actually doing any tidying up themselves unless you actually say “Now, darling, put this car in that box, please. No, you can’t go on playing with it, it’s tidy-up time!”

  5. Yours is the first blog post which has ever made me laugh out loud. I ove the top photo and th spot o descriptions of play groups. As a mum of a one and a three year old this resonates. I look forward to reading more.

  6. Loving this post, I thought I was the only mum who detested playgroup. Don’t forget the baby sisters or brothers of the toddlers puking up their milk, or desperately needing nappy changes, crawling around on the floor and getting run over by the toddlers who are fighting over the Little Tykes car, and the little girl whose job seems to be walking up to all of the mums, tattling on what your children are doing. Or the newly potty trained child whose seems to find delight in pulling down his pants/pull ups and exposing himself to all and sundry. Need I go on! Loving your blog.

  7. ‘Single male’ here – you’ve got it spot on. The best bit is how all the women ignore you. And your kid ignores you. Bliss.

  8. The playgroups at my local children’s centre do not provide hot drinks. No tea. No coffee. Playgroup with no tea or coffee. It is torture.

  9. You forgot the toilet training child who proudly pulls their pants down and pees on the floor, and the heart-stopping moment when an enormous 4 year old (one of the ones who has their birthday the day after school cut-off so they have to wait til they’re almost 5 to start school) stands on your tiny baby’s head. You left your baby safely in the baby area while you went to get a cup of tea, you’re 20 feet away and cannot get there in time to stop it happening! Apart from that it was exactly spot-on. (My daughter loves jigsaws, and drawing, and anything quiet she can do alone. My son is the exact opposite)

    • Oh god my daughter is an early September birthday so I am the embarrassed mum apologising for my 4 year old who would really like to be in school with all her friends!

  10. No playgroups in France!!!! yuuuupiiiieeeee!!!! (I only know of one, organised by an association of english-speaking parents). But this post has brought me back to the grey and rainy days attending playgroups with my first born (in the UK). I always thought the singing was horreful (plus didn’t know the letters of half of the songs, though soon learned the limited repertoire), and do not drink tea or boiled-water-made coffee. I also felt there was a bit of denial going on. As in everyone looked like if they were having a wonderful time, but I could sense they weren’t? maybe I am just overcomplicating things now. anyhow, glad to be living (not for long) in a country that allows me to do mad singing with my kids outdoors, so at least the sound is a bit diffused???? very funny post Eeh Bah Mum, thank you for sharing!

  11. Great list …. Would like to add: you will forget to wear your high waisted jeans / leggings / 80’s style body top and will end up showing lots and lots of bum cleavage as you crawl after your toy from play mat to play mat.

  12. Brilliant!!! Here’s another:

    11. Puddle of unknown origin

    At some point during the session, a mystery puddle will appear on the floor. Noone will know if it’s wee, squash, tea or tears (parent or child) or who is responsible, but there will be an ulmighty hoohah about cleaning it up.

    You’ll consequently never see one of the group members and their charge again in the coming weeks.

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  15. Another brilliant and 100% truthful article!
    She just missed out 11) There be an impenetrable mummy clique who all seem to have known each other for eons and are resistant to your tenuous smiles and timid questions. Give it time. Just like stone even they can eventually be worn down! Unless you’re the man. (Though the first thing they’ll impart to you in sisterhood is how the lone male is weird and avoided at all costs! Poor guy.)

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