Saturday, April 25, 2009

making a parent's group

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a night person - happiest to stay up into the wee hours puttering away with my many projects, and then sleep in, then lose the day again until I suddenly realise by 4 pm or so that I'm still in my pyjamas. My partner Charles is like me too, and in many ways Adelaide seems to have inherited our love of the night as well.

In the night routine department we are lousy parents: Adelaide has never really had a bedtime and often it will suddenly become very late and I'll realise that we're all still up - Addie included. But I figure as long as she's happy, content, and there is no real pressure to wake up early then it's ok.. For now!

But then several months ago I began to notice that Adelaide and I have the best days together when we get out of the house. I realised because I am mostly happy inside all day without even getting dressed, that I needed to come up with a way to give me a small push to get up and out.

And so several months ago I became inspired to try and start a community parent and tot playgroup. To gauge interest, I first talked with as many neigbourhood moms and dads as I could, and seemed to get a positive response to the idea. I went ahead and booked the community room for two days a week. I am grateful for that - our community room is a perfect spot - bright and cheerful and basic kitchen facilities, tables and chairs, and lots of toys and books. I kept it simple, bringing some tea and snacks such as crackers and grapes, and also a few craft items like playdoh, crayons and paper. I also made up some mixed cd's of (grown-ups) music to play as well. And I asked other parents to consider bringing some snacks, dish towels, hand soap or the like as well.

The hardest part of this all, besides getting motivated, was putting myself out there and the fear that no one would ever show up! The day of the first group I arrived early, made a pot of tea, put on some music, and waited. I decided that worst off, Adelaide and I would have some nice one on one time together. But then, people began to arrive one by one and soon it was a full house.

making a playgroup by you.making together by you.

And then something I never even expected happened - organising this group has became one of the most fulfilling things I have ever experienced. I have met so many amazing and wonderful children, mamas, papas, and grandparents. I have gone from having just a few mama friends to having dozens. I have met neighbours who live on our block, but I had never seen before in my life! People seem to (I hope!) enjoy coming to the group. It is amazing to me, how doing little things such as this can seem to spread happiness. And now when Adelaide and I walk around our neighbourhood, we know almost everyone by name. 

beautiful grammas by you.

It has now been four months, and about 50 little ones and their parents have attended our playgroup - On any given day anywhere between 5 and 15 children and their parents might come by. Some people are regulars, others have only come by a couple of times. In spreading the word, I have found that word of mouth and inviting people face to face has worked great, rather than relying on more anonymous methods. But I have now decided it is time to finally make up some posters and little flyers to put out around the neighbourhood, too.

make friends, big and small by you.

For the longest time I couldn't come up with an idea, but one morning I was inspired by some of Addie's little wooden people toys that I bought at Daiso ages ago. Sarah Neuburger also makes the most wonderful little wooden people too, which I couldn't help but think of while making this. I began drawing little people, one by one, in Illustrator, but soon I ran out of ideas and so Charles drew up dozens and dozens for me - he's great like that! Once I had made up a big group of characters I arranged them all and added the text information (The typeface I used is Clarendon). Once everything was arranged, I printed them out onto cardstock, some full page 8.5 x 11", and then reduced by 50% and doubled up per page to make flyers as well. Once all printed, I trimmed them down and corner rounded them all. Done!

a card for playtime by you.

69 comments:

Zonnah said...

Those are amazing :) You are such a great mom to do that for your daughter!

Jersey Girl in DC said...

This is so inspiring! And the design is fabulous as always! :)

Annette Arndt said...

Hi Sharilyn!
It's Annette Arndt. (I think you must not be on facebook anymore), but found your new blog and love it! Good for you about the playgroup. You're all going to make really good friends. Lily still has friends that she met in various playgroups (7 years later!), one of them a German one that I helped start. I wish you all the best. Bye! (ps Addie's ADORABLE :)

Jo said...

Sharilyn, I recently found your blog, and boy I am so grateful that I did :: I have started making my first quilt ever, as a direct result of being so inspired by the one that you made for Adelaide [thank-you] and I find that I look forward to your posts for the forthright manner in which you write, your beautiful ideas and photos :: and because you seem to be so brave and therefore inspiring :: I look forward to popping in often. Thank-you.

natasha said...

That is such a lovely idea, I don't have kids quite yet but someday if I do...

alice said...

That is such a wonderful idea to start a group and your flyers are lovely :)

Claire said...

This is just fantastic Sharilyn. I know how hard it can be to get out there and also to put yourself out there. It's so nice to read about how successful your group is. Hooray to building communities! xx

Megan said...

Good for you for leading the way on the play group! It's so true that just one person can make such a difference! And I LOVE the cards you designed. So clever!

zombiemommy1 said...

so neat!! the invites are darling!!! i have wanted to start a kids art group but dont know how to go about securing a proper space (not my house)

shanon said...

Those invites are super! I'd love one even though I don't have any kids. =)

lorenzacasini said...

hello! Your work is always so great :) I know I am one of the hundreds followers of your blog, but I just wanted to let you know I have tagged your blog on a little 'award' (I think that's how best describe it???!!!) on my blog... (both italian and english text)

http://lorenzacasini.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/allegria-di-meta-settimana/

.caroline armelle. said...

wow! great job!
i'd love something like this in my neighborhood.

Sophia Sunshine said...

Building community - it's simply wonderful. Way to get out there and make things happen. I'm sure it makes your neighbourhood all the nicer to be in too. Best of luck to you with keeping the playgroup going and growing.

dharmaflyer said...

I flippin love your blog. If we din not have a wonderful playgroup and I was a stay at home mum I would certainly take up your offer. This is a wonderful piece of artwork and great that you are willing to share.

Nikki said...

Those are beautiful! I thought they were letterpress and kept waiting for an etsy link.

Lindsey said...

These are so great! You must find a way to market and sell these. I know that's not your goal, but these are too good to keep to yourself. I love them. And I love that you are so invested in your community and aren't looking for anything in return other than some good old playtime.

sew nancy said...

love this
just emailed you

free range baby said...

how inspiring. i'm definitely going to try this in my neighborhood! thanks sharilyn. how generous and delightful.
heseon and dylan (almost 16 months)

allison said...

hi sharilyn, i've been reading your blog for a while now and i love reading about all your latest projects and updates. you have such a warm heart and every post is inspiring to me! keep up the good work! :)

simplesong said...

so inspiring + what a great design! thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

What gorgoeous little cards/flyers. Would you consider selling the template to these?

krismakes said...

Ohhh I iwsh I had kids so I could start a group! What a wonderful way to bring people together and get to know your neighbours. I love the little people on the flyers, they are magnificent!
By the way that photo of Adelaide tending to the plant is adorable, so precious.
Can't wait to see what your next project will be.
Kris

krismakes said...

oops that was meant to say "wish", sorry for any confusion!
Kris

thereddeer said...

I love my mother's group and I'm glad that organising your parent's group has given you such joy :)

michelle@Everyday Celebrating said...

Those are absolutely adorable!!! And what a great idea to start a group! I'm thinking those flyers would make a great invitation as well for all sorts of things!

melissa said...

This is the cutest flyer I have ever seen---you could not be more creative, honestly! :)

Stacy Dakota said...

i love the 'wooden people'! its sooo cute

Niella said...

oh too cute Sharilyn:-)

i miss the times of staying up supa late and sleeping in...and also going to playgroup w/ my cherub! I really do.

i love your lovely blog...always an inspiration.

Fancy Elastic said...

your community room looks lovely. I definitely rely on these sorts of groups with my boy... out and about is very important.

x

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea! Love that you are building community...
Thank you for the corner rounder tip - that looks like an awesome investment. Can you recommend a good paper cutter? It seems I'm always struggling to cut straight lines...
Thanks for sharing Sharilyn!
Susie

awesomeasaone said...

What a beautiful invitation! It is so inspiring that you have started this up.... I can imagine that anxiety you felt on the first day: "will anyone else be here?!" So glad it has been such a success!

nath said...

Hello - I just saw your comment over on Frecklewonder and came over for an explore. What a lovely wonderful thing you've done, really amazing! It makes such a difference having somewhere to go and hang out with our parents, it sounds as though you have really made a difference to your local community. Very inspiring stuff!

our little love nest said...

Same as nath, here...couldn't help but wonder what kind of shop you had. (it really is gorgeous..love everything) Love that you were raised in Vancouver(I lived near the university in the Westside area) and also think you are one amazing girl for starting a parents group. That is a huge thing to take on. Wish I had your drive. Thanks for the inspiration in my day today!xo
~dee

Melissa said...

You are one seriously TALENTED woman! I love this flyer. I love your playgroup idea too. We used to have a group that met at the park once a week throughout the summer. I think I will get that started again. It was so fun!

eunice said...

just wanted to say that i've bookmarked your blog and i've had so much fun reading all of your blogs! =)

tiel said...

your generosity is amazing. Good on you for doing this. I'd come along even though my two are a little older now.....except the travel time would be too much.

Kate said...

If I lived nearby, I would most definitely join your group - these posters are lovely! A few months ago I started a little group at our house, because my oldest was in kindergarten and I was feeling bad for my two year old at home with me all day. I always read a book to the group and provide a little artsy crafty sort of project, plus play and snacks. We have five preschoolers, which is plenty for our house, but a big rollicking group like yours would be super fun too! Thanks for sharing!

TrippleJN said...

I really wish I would have gotten involved in something like this. I'm so introverted at times. I love your story, and the wonderful thing that has happened for you.

Jenny

Beth- the mama bee said...

Those are great invites and the space you have to use is to die for! How great for your community to show how much they value the youth!

MelanyTN said...

How cool is that? Love your fliers and your spunk! Good job.

the seventy tree said...

This is sooo wonderful. It's probably the most appealing flyer I have ever seen...and such a great idea for a community! I just recently discovered your lovely blog, and am really enjoying it. Thank you. Have a very lovely day.
Kerry.

sarah n. said...

so sweet--your little people are fabulous and thank you for the kind words!

Erin said...

I am drooling over your cards! Oh my goodness.

Thimbleina said...

Well done. Groups like these are a salvation to some first time mother's who don't get to talk to others at home with children. What a great job you are doing for your community

LobotoME said...

Those are the cutest play date cards I've ever seen!

j :)

Maria said...

You are just amazing!

Lynne said...

Those are gorgeous - you should design some birthday cards or new baby using the same designs - I would totally buy them. This is the best design I've seen for ages.

Jessica said...

I would love a copy of these adorable cards. What is your email?

Mine: festivefeet@yahoo.com

Jessica

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

dude. You rock!!!!

Di said...

Congratulations on your success! It is so great to have created a real sense of community for you and Addie - children are a great way to meet people because you always have something in common!

*plum*tree*studio* said...

i think these are so adorable! i love the faces, the hair and the colors you used. these would make such wonderful adoption cards. there are so few adoption cards let alone modern ones...these would be a hit!

6p00d8357dedec69e2 said...

wow - how inspiring! both your initiative and that amazing flyer design - i love it!

Making of a Montessori Mum said...

Wow! gorgeous. Are you still making those invites? If so, would love to borrow. We are starting up a toddler collective and these would be great. (:

shael said...

Awesome... what neighborhood is your play group?

bluewomanredstate said...

sharilyn, what kind of printer did you print these on. I thought I saw it, but then felt crazy because I couldn't find it again.
Thanks!

Maryann said...

Love the invite. Do you think you could maybe post an editable PDF?

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