When the Playgroup Mommies Think You’re A Slacker

Hi Readers! Today’s guest blogger is Jen Singer, who is so smart, funny and wise it’s a pleasure to inrtoduce you to each other! She’s got a new book out (don’t we all?): Stop Second-Guessing Yourself: The Toddler Years, and her blog is fun, too: http://mommasaid.net/ . Here’s her take on playgroup parents with a different worry/scold threshhold:


You’re at your playgroup when another mom jumps up, runs across the room and picks up your toddler, who had just fallen down.

He was not crying.

He was not perilously close to a sharp-edged table or fireplace.

He was not about to toss a breakable tchotchke across the room.

He was just sitting there, and, so were you. But the other mom is not sitting. She is brushing off your toddler, who is not dirty, consoling him and giving you the evil eye, as if to say, “How could you just sit there?”

Welcome to 21st century parenting, where we’re supposed to soften the blow of every little bump and tumble our kids take, where we’re supposed to hover, just in case. Today’s parents have become part roadie, part bodyguard. And no time is the modern pressure to protect more prevalent than when your kids are toddlers.

Naturally, your toddler can’t be a full-fledged Free-Range Kid just yet. If he was, you’d find him wandering down the street, behind the dog and in front of the police. Toddlers, with their newfound mobility and lack of reason, need someone to keep an eye on them pretty much as long as they’re awake.

But sometimes we take our modern concerns for safety a little too far, hence the woman who is now setting your toddler upright, when really, he could have figured it out himself. So what’s a Free Range Momma to do?

  1. Find like-minded friends. Your toddler really doesn’t care much who plays with him. In fact, at this age, he’s into parallel play, which looks a lot like two strangers at a salad bar. Why not make playdates with moms who share your philosophy when it comes to whether or not your son needs to be dusted off from every little bump?
  2. Don’t apologize. If the other mommies wonder why you’re not jumping up every other minute to hover over your toddler, tell them why you think that it’s best that your child – as long as he’s safe – can handle a little adversity. Tell them that you’re trying to raise an independent kid, and it they still don’t get it, see #1.
  3. Refer to milestone charts. If the milestone charts say that your two-year-old is more than ready to carry light items across the room, tell the other moms why you’re not rushing to help him bring you the remote, a stuffed Elmo and a tissue box. He can do it! Really. And you can be a Free-Range Mom.

Jen Singer is the author of “Stop Second-Guessing Yourself – The Toddler Years” (HCI, April 2009).