Berkeley Parents Network >
Groups, Clubs, & Teams >
A playgroup is a get-together of parents and children for socializing and play,
usually babies and young children who are not yet old enough to be in
preschool. Playgroups are popular with stay-at-home parents as a way of
meeting other parents in the community.
Playgroup families may
meet in each others' homes, or at local parks and playgrounds, often
at a regular time each week.
Playgroups are most often formed spontaneously by parents, but there are also
playgroups that are formed and facilitated by local parenting organizations.
Here are some ways to find a playgroup:
- Post a message to the Announcements Newsletter under
- Visit your local park or playground and talk to other parents who have
children of a similar age to yours
- Sign up for a class for kids as a way to meet other parents
- Visit or phone Bananas (classes, support, etc.)
We will be relocating to Berkeley shortly and I am looking
for German speaking playgroups, etc or parents with kids who
would like to meet up for play and chat. My son is 2 years
old and is raised bilingual. We would love to find some
German speaking friends:) Madeleine
Hi Madeleine! Yes, there are many many German families in
the Bay Area and a good way to find them is joining the
Yahoo Group 'GerMOMs' - a German Mothers Group (there are
different groups for San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay).
Our East Bay Group used to be very active by meeting twice a
week. But due to changing schedules in kid's (and parent's)
lives and people moving back to Germany, most of us are left
with communicating through the online forum. However, it's
much easier to make friends and find children in your kid's
age if you know where to look for other German parents.
There is also the GISSV Berkeley Campus (German
International School Silicon Valley). You might not be
thinking about elementary school yet because of your son
being only two but every now and then the school organizes
events (Karneval, yard sales, etc.) where you can socialize
and meet other German families. Another fun (and very
German!) event is the 'St. Martin's Laternenfest' at the Bay
Area Kinderstube - a German Preschool in Albany. Kirstin
German kid resources in the area include Bay Area
Kinderstube (BAKS), the German International School of the
Silicon Valley (GISSV) in Kensington, and the German
Saturday Schools of the East Bay (GSSEB). Bryce
I'm a new mom to a 3 month old girl. Does anyone know of a
group for new moms/playgroup in or near Alameda that meets
on Fridays? It'd be nice to meet some other new mamas that
live in the area... Wendy
Walking (or toddling) distance seems to determine the best
play groups/ mom's groups. Not sure what neighborhood you
live in, but if you hang out at your local park or coffee
house (Julie's, JavaRama, Au Lait, Westcafe, etc.) you're
bound to run into some nice families.
There are several singalongs, story times, and other events
at the Alameda Libraries. This is a great way to interact
with other parents and their kids.
Tot Tank has a few events for parents as well. Crosstown
used to have a lot of wonderful stuff for kids, but I don't
know about the new coffee house there (High Street Station).
People in Alameda seem pretty open (I've been here 10 years
and only met one person I thought was actually mean). You
may also meet fun families at Crab Cove during their
And if you want to start an organized group, consider
posting on the bulletin board at Fashion After Passion.
Alana in Alameda
I meet a few moms through Alameda Hip Parents & Kids Meetup
group. It is easy to join and you get emails of activities.
I think the heath department here may also run a new mom's
group. I might also ask the folks at Tot Tank because they
used to host groups for free.
I have also seen a number of mom's groups form through
Alameda Parents Network. If you post on there, with what
age ranges you are looking for and what kind of things you
want to do with the group, usually people get a bunch of
I hope you find some cool moms. My groups of moms have
really helped me out.
I need some recommendation or advice as to how to (or whether) to socialize my
17 month old daughter with children in her age group. My older child is almost
4 yrs old. She goes to preschool a few morings a week. When we go to drop her
off, my younger one seems to enjoy seeing the other kids and playing with the
new toys. All of our playdates are for my older child and the younger one just
comes along and does her own thing. My question is whether I should somehow try
to introduce her to those her age? If so, how? She has no "school" friends
because I am a SAHM. I tried joining a moms group when she was first born but
my older one was bored stiff and whiny at the meetings. Any suggestions would
be greatly appreciated. Thanks. N
Check out the Epworth playgroups. The group meets at Epworth Methodist
United Methodist Church on Hopkins St. for two hours (no religious content).
There is free play, with toys, climbing structures, play dough, markers,
paint, etc. Parents rotate bringing snack for the kids and thre is a circle
time at the end where each kid picks (with some help from mom, dad or care
giver) a song for the group to sing. The group size is around 12 kids.
Call the coordinator Liz Dunkle at (510) 528-0467. There is a fee for the
playgroup, but it's not too much. There is usually a waiting list.
I have been taking my now 18 month old there since he was about 10 months
old and we both like it a lot. Both he and I have made friends there and
it's a great social experience for him. The only thing I would mention as a
warning is that the Thrusday group is currently full of 2 year old boys who
have been together as a group for a while and our day (Tuesday) keeps
getting refugees from the Thursday class who are not 2 year old boys.
Also, my little guy enjoys the gymnastics plus classes at University
At 17 months, your child is not developmentally ready for cooperative play
but rather parallel play. If you try to put her together with other kids
her age, they will most likely not play together yet and they may have
difficulty sharing their toys if a playdate is arranged at one of their
homes. I found that the best way to begin to socialize a toddler this age
is to take them to parent participation classes like Gymboree or Music
Time/Kindermusik where they can get used to being around others the same age
and they can learn to share equipment, take turns, and play and laugh
together. I did this for a year or so with both of my kids and I think it
helped get them ready for preschool at age 3.
As you have probably noticed babies and toddlers love to be around
other little people. So if you don't have a bunch of cousins for your
little one to interract with provide her with a socialization
experience through park play, Mommy and me classes at the community
center, music class, Gymboree, Kindergym or a playgroup. If traveling
to Walnut Creek isn't too far for you I would be glad to welcome you
at the John Muir Hospital Women's Health Center (1656 N. California
Blvd. across from Perfominrg arts Center)Toddler Support group every
Thursday from 9:15-10:15. Drop in basis, different discussion topics
every week, circle time, songs, playtime. For more info feel free to
email me. Ksenija
I had the same problem with my second child. She had no "friends" until 2
1/2 yrs old. I joined a parent participation program for 2 yr olds - loosely
based on a pre school structure ( you didn't say where you lived but there
are many of these programs around in most communities. In Berkeley, there is
the playgroup at Epworth Church) while my first attends her pre school. You
could also try joining a moms group that meets on a morning your older child
is at preschool.
Now that the older child is in pre-school it would be good to try
again to find your toddler friends of her own. Do you know anyone
with kids both ages? That's unbeatable. Otherwise, either a formal
group, a moms & tots group, a music class or lots of time at Totland
playground seems fair. Even younger children should get to be the
center of attention sometimes!
I am a SAHM who joined a playgroup when my second child was around 9 months
old. Our playgroup is still active 2 years later, and my daughter has formed
meaningful friendships with several children from the group. I have as
well. My daughter is independent and outgoing, and she truly enjoys other
children. However, some of the children in our playgroup never bonded with
the other children. They tended to be shy and unable to leave their
mothers' sides. Now that those children are in preschool, though, they are
making friends. So I would advise that you try joining a playgroup and see
if your toddler enjoys playing with others in that setting. I found my
playgroup through the Neighborhood Parents Network. Another option to
consider is enrolling your toddler in a part-time "playschool" program, such
as the one my daughter has been in since 19 months for 2 mornings a week.
Several wonderful people do home-based programs in the Berkeley area. You
can get the information from the Neighborhood Parents Network Preschool
Directory. I wholeheartedly recommend Bari Nelson's program.
A playgroup I've attended since my child was very young recently
disbanded, mostly because of conflicting schedules, the arrival
of second babies, etc. A member from the old group and myself
(we were pretty much the only ones who showed up regularly)
created our own new playgroup, and invited new people with
similar-aged children to come, in hopes of creating a more
reliable group. It's been great!
But an acquaintance from my original playgroup is upset that she
hasn't been invited, even though her toddler is in school daily.
She wants to come and hang out with her baby alone. I tried to
explain, this is a toddler-focussed group, but she gets so
incensed, like what a ridiculous premise and how dare I impose a
limit on her. It's very awkward because our children are friends
and I consider her a friend, too.
But the whole reason I'm doing a playgroup is for camaraderie
AND so that my child has friends to play with. Is it too much to
ask that a parent who attends has to bring their toddler? I feel
losing my patience
So what's the downside to her coming to hang out with you, her supposed
friend? Her baby may detract attention? I don't get it... you must only
have one child. It's very hard to have 2 little ones and always feel
left out of playgroups. Either our toddler can't come to the baby group
or vice versa. These are the rude things that I hear from mommy-land
that make me happy I don't stay at home with the kids all day. If she's
your friend, then spend time with her. But if this is how you talk about
your friends, then I'm scared to see what you say about your enemies.
I don't really understand the problem. A friend wants to come and hang
out with her baby and the rest of you in the group.
Keeping such a rigid structure seems, ironically enough, to detract from
the usual bonds of friendship, which don't measure things like age. I
don't see why the friend can't come without her toddler; does she
interrupt or disrupt the activities of the group? Sounds as if you
really don't like her all that much.
inclusion works better
Well... do what you want to do. But I'll tell you this. We are raising
my child to be INCLUSIVE in life, rather than exclusive.
In all sorts of cultures, all through the world, people just ...
get together with friends and people they know, you know? The entire
playgroup thing is a bit fascistic sometimes.
Is there something about being around this person that bothers you? If
so, go ahead and exclude her, but for heaven's sake, don't exclude her
and ALSO call her a friend! Northern Californian women are absolutely
bizarre. We're all raised to be so ''sweet'' that it takes some of us
(like me) years to figure out what the heck we want!
If you're feeling bullied, imho you want to exclude this woman and are
mad that she's calling you on it! Maybe, just maybe you don't really
like her much and maybe it's a relief to be away from her! If this is
the case, then continue on. But work hard to be honest with yourself
from now on about your feelings. Even if you don't come across as a
''nice person'' you'll end up much happier in life!
older, not so ''nice'' but a great person
Hi - she is wrong to bully you. It sounds like she feels left out and
wants to be included. Since she has children the same age as yours, she
still has valuable input for you. What's the harm in her attending? Her
baby shouldn't interfere with the other kids.
Let her play!
I think you should ask the other play group moms. Having the second
child is even more isolating than the first, so I kind of relate to that
mom. But, she may not realize that she'll be dealing with an infant that
doesn't move around while you guys all chase toddlers around. I think
you have a responsiblity to the moms in your new playgroup.
ask them what they think. Let your friend know that it isn't solely your
decision. If you're friends with this woman, maybe they'll like having
her around too. Was she one of the unreliable ones or was she reliable?
I dont' think you have to be rigid in any situation, but also, if you
are feeling bullied, you might have to tell her up front as well.
i hate playgroup politics
i say let her join in. does it really matter that her other child is
younger or older than the toddlers? she might be able to add something
to the group, or learn something. if she's a friend what's the big
deal. i think it's great for all kids to be around other kids older or
younger. we had a toddler over for dinner with my six & eight year old.
of course she wasn't into the stuff they were into but they all had a
come one come all
You consider this woman a friend yet you're not being a good friend to
her. She needs support -- whether it's to just get out of the house with
her younger child and hang with people she is comfortable with -- or
perhaps to discuss issues related to her child that used to be in your
playgroup. I see your point but you are being exclusionary, the exact
thing we try to teach our kids not to be. Be a friend to her and not a
mean mommy -- there are enough of them out there. Try to view it from
Working Mom of Three
Playgroups are beneficial not only for the child, but also for the
parent. They allow parents to connect, to share interesting
conversation about their kids, their spouses, interesting books and
movies, etc. This mom probably misses the time she spent with you, as
she obviously considers you a friend, too. Do the two of you get
together in other social settings, or is this the only time she really
gets to see you? Is her new baby totally disruptive? Does she butt
into conversations or command too much attention? Will it truly be
detrimental to the group if she is included?
Miss our old playgroup, too
Hi -- I don't often post, but your post inspired me to respond and ask
you to look at this from your friend's position. I too am part of a
wonderful playgroup, and I thought it might disband once the kids were
off to school, etc. However, it didn't, and this is in large part due
to the fact that we moms had become friends and wanted to spend time
with eachother regardless of the kids. Being the mom of an only, I
would have been very hurt if I was made to feel unwelcome when others in
the group got together with their younger children. Now, I sometimes
join the moms with their toddlers and babies, and they love having an
extra parent there to help out. Also, many of our activities are now
focused on us moms getting together without any kids, and it's great!
Of course, you are free to form any sort of playgroup you like, but if
you really do consider this person a friend and enjoy her company, why
not let her join you, regardless of her child's age?
Happy Playgroup Member
I understand the ''toddler required'' rule you mention, this being a
toddler playgroup, but... maybe you're missing the big picture. Over
time, aren't friendships more important then when exactly people have
their babies? You say you and she and your children are friends. This is
priceless. My kids are older and over time, the variety of ages in
families we're close to makes things more fun and I can't count the
number of times we adults all got together for this or that regardless
of which kids could or couldn't or didn't want to come. When they get
older, the kids don't necesarily align by age but more by personality
chemistry. And when they all leave, you're left with these incredible
Ask yourself, What negative effect can her being there have?
You'll still accomplish your goals of camaraderie for yourself and your
children, even more so by encouraging more unconditional friendship. How
would you feel if it were you being excluded? I say forgive her hurt
reaction and hope she forgives you too.
I am a mom to a 10 month old and belong to a playgroup. As a new stay
at home mom, I have often times felt very isolated. I enjoy attending
my weekly playgroup b/c I get to watch my baby have fun with other
babies and I get to bond with other moms. There have been times when my
baby has been sick and we stay home but I wish that I was still there.
I look forward to seeing the babies as well as the moms each week. I
consider them friends (although not good friends).
My point is, I think you are being insensitive. I obviously don't know
either of you so I am trying not to judge. However, it seems strange
that she would be offended that you have started a new group and it
seems strange that you would make such a childish ''rule''.
I don't see why you would want to or need to limit the play group in
this way...especially if she has a baby she's bringing and a toddler she
probably would love to talk about...and is seeking her own companionship
as well as her babies. I would be bothered by your ''rules'' too if I
was her... I think we can be a little more open than that with these
'play groups.' We are modeling for our kids here, and inclusion of those
who have different situations, needs, etc. is a good thing.
just my two cents
Are you friends with this woman or not? Do you remember what it's like
to be a the mother of a new baby and need to get out of the house and
talk to other adults? Are your friendships with others now that you're a
mother based *only* and *soley* on your liked-aged children, g-d forbid
there be any other connection between two or more adults in your social
circle? Forgive me for sounding harsh, but I can't get my brain around
this. It sounds like you have hurt feelings about the playgroup
disbanding and are lashing out at her. I can't imagine saying to a
friend that I didn't want to see her unless she had her kid in tow. Even
if I had mine. Even in a playgroup situation.
Maybe you're doing her a favor.
If she brings her toddler, how does that make fewer children for your
child to play with? The other children will be there anyway.
And what's wrong with toddlers playing with babies, or with someone a
bit older? Geez. So much for ''it takes a village''. God forbid kids
learn to play with children of a different ages and abilities.
If you're feeling bullied it sounds ego-related, like your control is
being challenged. Not having her and her infant come doesn't make any
logical sense. I'm not sure why she's insisting, as I wouldn't want to
hang out with a mom with your attitude anyway.
Kids are kids
What ever happened to a group of moms hanging out together with a gaggle
of kids - all different ages? The moms were together because they were
*friends* and the kids were exposed to older and younger alike? Why do
you have to have only kids the same age together? We are just
overcompartementalizing our lives to our detriment. My baby hangs out
with toddlers because I like the moms. The toddlers love the baby, the
baby LOVES the toddlers. Why not? My oldest hangs out with kids of all
ages too. He gets to learn things from the older kids and be the
teacher/caregive to the younger. Try it, it's not so bad.
sorry, but I don't see a problem with your friend attending sans
toddler. you said you go for adult company as well and kid company and
even if she doesn't have her kid with her, she's till a mom and can
relate to mom/toddler issues. Friends are hard to find and keep -
I wasn't going to respond at first but then I heard about something
similar with some friends (not around here) and thought I would write
I don't see the big deal with letting your friend over. Her toddler is
at school, but that doesn't mean she can't relate to the parent
conversation or just enjoy being with other mom friends. To her, you are
excluding her just because her toddler isn't in tow and in my opinion
that is fairly petty.
I started a fairly large play group that that now covers newborns to six
year olds, but I could never imagine *not* inviting someone just because
their kid doesn't meet the age requirement. Isn't this all about
friendship and making connections?
Invite her over, play nice and maybe your new group will find some new
friendships with this woman, whether she has her toddler with her or
everyone in the sandbox
It sounds like you believe your reasons for not including your
''friend'' in your new playgroup, but in her place I'd be incensed too.
It sounds like you actually want to ditch her, but without any hard
feelings. If the situation were more as you described it, you could
invite her to come and let her decide whether its worth her time or not
to attend without her toddler.
I think that you need to look at your motives more closely and decide
whether or not you really want to continue the friendship enough to stop
Been there and Embarrassed
It's too bad that your aquaintance hasn't been able to maintain a
friendly and non- pressured attitude towards you as she requests to join
the new group. However, if she is pressing that hard to join your new
playgroup, perhaps it is because she is feeling isolated and lonely.
How can it hurt to let her come to the new playgroup without her
toddler, just so that SHE can get some adult companionship?
i think mixed age playgroups are fine, in fact better, than same age
ones. toddlers of the same age are often very territorial with one
another, and at best play alongside one another. but kids 1-2 years
apart WILL play together: the older kids take the lead and invent games,
and the younger kids are remarkably accepting of the older kids'
authority. it's more natural, the way village and extended family life
always was. the playdates i dread are two 20mo's in one's house: it's
just a nonstop fight, the ''owner'' won't share the toys and feels
threatened, the visitor feels rejected, the mom's are too busy settling
differences to visit.
i think it's the mom's who want to have the same age kids together, so
they can share what's currently going on, get/give advice. your friend
obviously feels excluded, and you are maintaining that there is a good
reason for it, but is it really such a problem if her toddler isn't in
attendance? she still lives with a toddler, and would have experiences
to share. are you excluding her because she has a different philosophy
in choosing to have her toddler in preschool, and you feel a rift
because yours isn't?
i think you should include her, unless you really DID want to exclude
her on the basis of other interpersonal issues (?you feel she's too
pushy, dominating...). you call her an aquaintance in one breath, a
friend in another. if you want to continue a relationship, or your kids'
friendship, you should include her.
besides, soon enough this group will start creating siblings too, and
are you going to kick them out when they have that new baby?
then their big kids might go to preschool too... and poof, there goes
this new playgroup. there's value in longevity of
friendship: if the playgroups break down every year, you aren't really
friends, just collegues working on a project.
signed:mixed groups and old friends are great.
Actually this seems pretty pointless and mean on your part.
Will you be perfectly fine with it and not have your feelings hurt if
someday people you know form a play group and don't ask you to be a part
of it? What if one day your toddler is with a caregiver other than
yourself for a day and you feel lonely, will YOU be welcome at this play
group? What if you had a toddler AND a baby, would you be allowed to
bring the baby? Is it really so odd that this woman might want to hang
out with other moms she knows even though her older child is with
How about you have some compassion for a woman who is supposedly your
friend? Maybe she misses her toddler and would love to play games with
yours. Maybe she's overwhelmed with a new baby and needs some friendly
support. Maybe she liked YOU and wants to be friends.
You're not in high school anymore. Why set such weird cliquey limits to
Is it really a big deal to let her come with just her baby? It
seems like it might be nice to have an ''extra'' adult around
without a toddler to worry about. If it really is just the fact
that her toddler isn't with her, I think it would be nice to let
her attend. If there are other issues (personality conficts)
then that is a different story) I am sure with a new baby she
would really enjoy the company and she just might feel more
comfortable with some people she already knows vs. finding a new
the more the merrier
My son and I have been going to a playgroup with the same
members since he was about 4 months old -- now he's 3, and so
are the rest of the kids. Lately, it seems fewer and fewer
people show up. I'm disappointed because I kind of schedule my
son's and my week around it. Like most of the others in the
group, I now have a second child and am busier than ever. I'm
the coordinator this month, and beginning to feel like a
frustrated and pathetic ''cruise director'' who's trying to rally
everyone to show up with email reminders that go unresponded to.
It bums me out that my son's playmates aren't available much
anymore. Is this a natural thing, once kids start preschool
their moms just sort of drift apart? It's so much work for me to
drag both of my kids to playgroup when only one or two other
moms show up... am I expecting too much of others? It seems they
like the group to be there when they need it on a drop-in basis,
but they can sort of take it or leave it. Maybe I'm too loyal?
Our playgroup has completely fizzled out. I keep in contact with a few of the
but the group sort of died right around the time our kids were 4. We moved, we
different preschools with different schedules, etc. I was the first one to move
from the area and was gone fr 2 years, so it was hard readjusting at all when we
back, but did see people a few times. I think this must be what happens. I think
normal to stay in contact with people who live close to you or who you have
common other than your child's age.
no longer in a playgroup
Playgroups do fizzle out or, you could look at it in a positive
way, they change. My daughter's playgroup started when she was
three months old and we aggressively recruited lots of new kids
and moms (it actually started more as a moms group) and, at one
point, had more than twenty moms on the list. People move,
schedules change, we go back to work, and, yes, new siblings
happen and folks get overwhelmed and schedules don't mesh. But,
if you start out w/ a big group and add folks as you go along you
can keep a playgroup going for a long time. Maybe you have to
have a more flexible schedule for the playgroup. Maybe you will
only be able to meet once a month (but that probably wont work
and the group will fall off of the radar especially for the busy
My daughter turns six today and this is the year that most of the
kids started kindergarten (some did so last year) and that pretty
much killed our playgroup. It's very sad but no one has the time
now. It's just amazing that we were able to meet for as long as
we did and as regularly as we did even if it was sometimes just
two or three moms and kids
My oldest just started preschool this fall, and yes, my experience has been that
playgroup has fizzled. I, too, put forth serious effort to try to keep it going,
there's only so much one person can do to rally a group of busy and disinterested
moms. And I get the busy part, I have two kids, we have busy lives; but I still
social outlet and friendships and I don't understand why it's so hard to find
people with the same desires. Especially, when the people in the group seem to
each other so much.
I've always had great friends in my life up to the point where I had children.
have found being a SAHM to be incredibly isolating. More so, because our family
very traditional, with me at home full-time and dad at work, 60+ hours a week. A
lot of people in the area seem to have flexible arrangements with both parents
home part of the week. I honestly am the only person I know who doesn't have at
least a part-time job outside the house and a spouse that is home at least some
the weekdays. I think my need for social interaction is greater than the other
know, and I just have more time that needs outlets.
I guess I don't have advice, but I can emphathize. I try really hard to focus on
good friendships I do have in my life, even if they are not with other
moms, or even other moms. It can be rough, and I don't feel like my social
interactions are adequate or ideal, but I just try to be as genuine and friendly
everyone I know in the hopes that this will forge lasting connections where they
meant to be.
Boy do I hear you! I started a playgroup when the kids were all
about 6 months old. Now, everyone is 3+ and I have to cancel
most events because no one attends besides us. It is extremely
frustrating, and rude, I think, to plan these events and have
folks use it as a placeholder until something else comes along.
I have single handedly planned every event since my groups
inception and no one understands the time that alone takes. Our
events use to be moments you planned your week around, and now
folks don't care. I think now that the kids are older, people
aren't as interested, which is a shame if you ask me
fizzled and frustrated
this page was last updated: Nov 13, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network