Finding Your Tribe

For years we’ve been bombarded with messages about the importance of ‘finding your tribe’ as parents. Rosie Farrand met lovely mothers along her parenting journey, but hadn’t had much luck with discovering a regular social organisation that felt right. She offers a perspective of taking the first steps into Playcentre. I started the 27km drive to Playcentre with a knot in my tummy. It was the same anxious feeling I’d experienced whenever I tried a new social activity or joined a group, ever since I’d become a mother, nearly four years ago. I wanted to find a place that allowed the boys to completely be themselves, whilst positively challenging them, stimulating them and creating enjoyable learning moments, as well as building lasting friendships.

In a small, country town, it was no easy feat.

Both boys were buzzing, eager to explore a new environment and the ever social oldest child had indicated that he wanted to “meet new friends”. How I hoped his wish would come to fruition, looking at his excited little face as we pulled into the car park. Holding a bag loaded with two spare changes of clothes for each boy (I’m no rookie when it comes to messy play), clutching my big dude’s hand and carrying my
little velcro toddler, we made our way in.

Before I had a chance to catch my breath, both boys were off (in completely separate directions) and the Centre’s President immediately came over with a warm smile, to commence the meet and greet process.

As I was given a brief overview of how the Centre operated and met more smiling and welcoming faces, my boys were happily exploring the new turf, chatting away, excitedly, to other children and from that moment, I knew this was going to be ‘our place’.

What has been the best thing about our Playcentre experience so far, is the relaxed, casual, inviting and completely non-judgemental atmosphere that it maintains. The boys are able to explore, investigate and play at their own pace and their feelings and opinions are valued and respected. It was important to me that my children were never forced to comply with a certain activity or practice, purely at the whim of
an adult and I am passionate about children feeling safe and having their viewpoint validated.

If my boys aren’t particularly hungry, or they’re completely immersed in an activity and disruption will only inhibit their creativity and quash their learning moment, then they are not obligated to eat morning tea. If they are so absolutely delighted by the idea of shaving foam, food colouring and water, that they both smear it vigorously – ALL OVER themselves – causing a huge messy scene, then they are left to loudly relish in the puffy, fluffy goodness.

When they’re tired, or just finding the world a little bit too difficult in that moment and they both decide to scream and collapse into my arms, tears flowing, I’m met with knowing smiles from other parents, or a request to help, but never have I felt judged in those difficult moments.

We belong to a lovely Centre, full of lovely families, all eager to get down and play with the children, marvelling at their curiosity with the world and enjoying their celebrated quirks. Thanks to a very hardworking and dedicated President, the Centre runs smoothly, the facility is of a high standard and there are ample opportunities for spectacular academic attainment, at every session.

My pursuit to find a positive, respectful and welcoming social experience for the boys has ended.

It is safe to say that we have found our tribe.

Rosie Farrand
Te Kopuru Playcentre