How to socialize your preschooler and find mom friends

Looking for ways to find preschool friends?

Don’t know where to make mom friends?

Make mom friends this week.

Envious of those other mom’s you see jogging in the park with another mom?

You just know they are going to push those fancy baby joggers over to Starbucks afterwards and sip caramel macchiato’s while their toddlers form life long friendships.

Or maybe your pediatrician asked you at your last visit how your 3 year old does with other kids and you said oh, she’s great.

I mean she’s never gone up and kicked anyone in the shins in Target so that’s a good sign right?

Well, yes that is actually a really  good sign. We don’t teach throat punch Thirsday in our house until age 6. (Totally kidding.)

But, you and I both know that we need to socialize our kids and us mom’s too.

Husband’s are great, but they are not other mom’s. Need a spider killed, they are your speed dial #1 but not for caramel macchiato dates.

We need someone who can relate when we’re trying to explain why getting a 3 year old to put her shoes on when we’re running late makes us want to LOSE OUR SHIT….because she can do it herself, although not in anything resembling a hurry.

(Check out this article on wellness mama about why mom’s need other mom’s.)

Toddlers and Preschoolers need other kids to socialize with.

Our kiddos need buddies too. Not just for fun, but to help them sort out polite social boundaries.

“It’s important at this stage to give your child plenty of opportunities to spend time with peers,” advises Dr. Heather Wittenberg PhD.

Do you see your toddler look longingly at other kids playing at the park. Maybe she wants to approach and doesn’t know how.

According to experts, 3 is the age they start to move away from parallel play and want to interact with the other kids. This is when they will start building their abilities to work together, compromise and resolve conflict.  (Check out this list of socialization milestones throughout the toddler and preschool years.)

That doesn’t mean that you need to go enroll your kiddo in a full time preschool. I am a huge advocate of homeschool preschool and beyond.

How to find friends for you and your homeschool preschooler?

Socialize your preschooler

How do you explain playground boundaries when you’re not entirely sure yourself?

So, how do you find mom friends? In theory it’s a little like dating. How do you break the ice?

You see a mom pushing a cart in the vegetable aisle. Her children seem healthy, clean, well behaved, no obvious signs of future delinquency.

Do you go up and say hi, I see you also made tiny people. It appears that you are also trying to avoid raising little jerks, want to plan a play date?

That approach might work occasionally, but there are definitely some better low pressure ways of meeting moms and their kids.

The preschool years require us to be creative to build social networks.

30 ways to make mom friends this week.
Print this list to start searching your local resources.

Once your kids are in school you’ll have built in social networks. Even if you homeschool you can find a co-op to provide that social support.

It might seem a little harder when your kiddo is still in the preschool age. But, there are actually quite a few options if you know where to look.

I’ve linked to a lot of resources, some are local Ft Worth area resources, but most cities will provide the same options.

In the words of Winnie the Pooh…“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

Basically, they are not going to come knocking on your door. You have to get out and go where the other mom’s are. Now that you are a mom that responsibility is doubled to get out and experience new things with your kiddo, be brave, overcome shyness and teach by example.

Free options – start with your local city resources.

Free options include Story Time at the library. Every library has at least one, sometimes several a week. We did some exploring until we found the one that was the best fit for us.

If you are in a larger metro area, each library will have a different feel. If one story time didn’t fit you and your kids check out a different one. Some are specifically geared towards children with special needs, or active toddlers.

Outside of the library different businesses often offer free story time. Check with local book stores, both independent and large chains like Barnes and Noble.

Cafe’s and Restaurants often offer story time as well. Here locally our Chik fil a offers one as well as an independent coffee shop.

Get outside to find fellow nature lovers.

 

Socialize your preschooler with outdoor groups

For nature lovers, any local botanical gardens will often have a story time or a weekly toddler time with arts and crafts.

Nature Preserves and city parks often have scheduled activities for the community. Cabela’s offers kid’s workshops and family camp weekends.

Get healthy while socializing by joining a Stroller Strides class or check with a local running store. Most have a free weekly run and welcome strollers.

Even our local brewery offers a weekly family friendly run followed by a hangout. Explore resources for activities you enjoy or want to learn more about.

Get outside with a Tinkergarten class or find your local Forest Play Group.

Indoor Preschool Group Activities

Michael’s offers craft classes starting at age 3 and up. If you don’t see any that you are interest in, why not start your own? It’s fairly inexpensive to rent their studio space.

Little Gym and local dance schools generally have some form of tumble time. Swim schools are popping up everywhere.

We personally recommend Emler for their gradual and positive approach.

Karate schools often start at age 3, and most area recreation centers have soccer and tball for the 3 and over crowd.

Music is an essential part of any child’s upbringing. Make it a fun play date sort of music lesson with a Musikgarten class.

There are indoor play areas being built throughout communities as entrepreneurial parents see the need for more indoor play options that stretch imagination.

In the Ft Worth area check out Interactive Playhouse and Small World Big Imagination.

Many churches offer climate controlled indoor play structures with open play times throughout the week. These are open to the entire community, not just members.

Consider a more structured weekly preschool alternative.

We’re super excited to be starting a weekly pre-k class at the local children’s theater this fall.

Beyond that, the zoo and the children’s museum both offer weekly preschool options.

Bonus, these all require drop off and most moms will hang out in the lobby, or in the case of the museum, designated mom room.

Great chance to make mom friends without a 3 ft tall person suddenly licking your knee mid sentence because they are pretending to be a dinosaur.

Don’t forget to check out area resources for mom’s activities.

Beyond that, check out your local mom’s blog and Facebook groups. Follow the link on the logo above to find a directory of local city mom’s blogs. If there isn’t one near you, consider starting one.

When you find a group meetup with several mom’s going,  get on out there. If they aren’t any good fit no worries, try something different next time. But, be the parent that teaches your child to be brave in the face of social anxieties.

There are also several subscription services that allow you to try different things for a fraction of the cost before committing to one activity. Check out Winnie and Pearchute for local kids activities. Groupon is also a great resource for discounts on local activities, just filter by target.

I’m kind of a freak about what if scenarios. I highly urge you to be overly cautious about the information you share about your kids online and never meet anyone alone.

A group meetup in a very public place, generally run by a public service, with several families attending, from a well established group, is the only scenario where I would take my baby to meet friends.

There’s a lot of checkmarks to get me to attend a social event sponsored by a virtual “friend”. STRANGER DANGER” blares on repeat in my subconscious.

We have had great luck at story time and classes though.

Now that you are there, how do you make a mom friend?

Preschool group nature hikes

So, you go to one of these groups and there’s 20 other mom’s there trying to herd their toddlers and preschoolers into orderly behavior. You can mingle and think of it like speed dating. There is an automatic intro as everyone has kiddo’s and something in common.

We’re attending these functions as much for my daughter’s benefit, so I usually want to focus on the story time, activity, craft etc first. While we’re playing or listening I take notice of the kiddo’s around me.

The ones that are loud, whining, rude… those are not the kiddos we want to associate with. I’m sure they are bound for great things, but I can tell you right off the bat the parents and I don’t have much in common.

Those parents are too busy answering emails or tweeting to care that their child is carrying on like a spring breaker in Daytona Beach. Or the mom who thinks her kid is too cute to bother with such things as politeness. We instantly have insurmountable mommy barriers.

Because honestly, I think your darling little Paisley would be cuter if she was sitting criss cross applesauce instead of running around story time getting hand sanitizer from the dispenser by the door every 28.5 seconds.

You might think it’s the most freaking adorable thing ever, but I am super annoyed that we can’t hear the librarian roar like a dinosaur because of your daughter. You’re repetitive overly loud seemingly exasperated but loving whisper “Stop, you don’t need anymore hand sanitizer” from the spot dead center front row explains so much.

No, I like the looks of that mom who is gently but firmly reminding her toddler to watch the librarian. No phone in sight. Awesome!! The baby is playing with a couple of toys… she’s prepared, nice!

How to invite a play date

Socialize your toddler

When craft time comes I point out their basket and ask if we can share. I suggest my daughter ask the little girls name. As we work on our letter D craft, I chit chat with the other mom, while we both guide our girls on how to ask polite questions of each other.

‘Cause here’s the thing. Every mother wants her kids to have friends. And we all need friends of our own, just some have it already built in. You just need to find a few who don’t. Everyone wins when we put ourselves out there.

Maybe she is new to the area. Maybe she had a ton of kidless friends that disappeared when she had the baby. Maybe she parents differently than her friends do, or has a different work schedule. Who knows.

But put it out there when it’s time to wrap up. It was so nice to meet you.  We are always looking for someone to play at the park with. Start there. She will usually respond with, we love going to the park, or the zoo, or the…insert here.

Ask her if you can text her your number, or find her on Facebook, or say hey, we’re planning to be at the park tomorrow around 10 want to go?

If it isn’t a great fit for both you and your kiddo, then just like dating…try again next week.Eventually you’ll have a full mom squad to hang with and support you.

Because being a mom is wonderful. But some days it’s really hard…like trying to give a feral cat a bath hard.

When I was struggling with post partum depression, one of the first things my therapist told me was that I needed to find a social group beyond social media.

An in person social group to relax with and vent with and enjoy. And she was right, it made all the difference in feeling like I wasn’t alone.

So download and print the list to start exploring your local resources.
30 Ways to find friends for mom's and preschoolers


Click here for your freebie.

How have you found your mom friends? Are there other groups that you recommend?

 

 

 

 

I’m a Fort Worth based mom with a passion for roasted beets, chocolate chip cookies and creating play based learning opportunities. I’m trying to set the example of a healthy lifestyle but find I enjoy coffee in my jammies more than running. I’m a work in progress and you are welcome to come hang out with me anytime.

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