Friday, June 24, 2016

Find Your Tribe

So now that you've decided, "Yes, I really can start my own preschool co-op," it's time to get started with lesson 1: Find Your Tribe. 

If you're anything like me (major introvert), step one may just be the hardest part of getting your own preschool co-op up and running. Why? Because you really have to put yourself out there!

But, you can't really have a co-op without anyone to cooperate with, right? So, this step is crucial! And as hard as it may be - it is sooooo worth it! I have a little story I'll share with you at the end, but for now, let's stay focused.

So, first step, keep your eyes open for people that just may be prime candidates for your group. The neighbor that has a toddler running around yard. The mom you see at church with a baby in one arm, and using the other arm to corral her other kids to their classes. The family that you always seem to run into at the park. Look around - you might just be pleasantly surprised by how many other moms are craving the connection that a preschool co-op would provide.

If you're already doing an activity with similarly aged kids - dance classes, sports teams, Sunday school classes - this is your "jackpot zone!" Then, all you have to do is ask.

Easier said than done, right?

Don't worry - you don't have to have it all together (I certainly didn't) - but just be honest. You can say something like, "Hey, I'd really like (insert your kiddo's name here) to have some more structured social time - and I just need to get out of the house every once in a while - so I was thinking of putting together a little preschool co-op. Nothing super formal, but I was wondering if you'd be interested. It seems like (insert your kiddo's name) already really enjoys playing with (insert their kiddo's name)."

There - done. And really, what's the worst that could happen? She says she's not interested. Oh well. But if you think about the best that could happen from those few sentences - ah, the possibilities are endless!

So, start asking, but my one caution is this - be mindful of just how large your group is getting. Remember, most likely, you will be hosting this in a home or other single-room location - so bigger isn't always better. 

We have found that a group of about 8 students (not including parents or siblings) is ideal. If you have less than 4, the kiddos don't seem to take the "preschool" aspect of it as seriously. If you get much bigger than 9, well, let's just say things can get a little crazy. 

So, now it's your turn. Think of 2 or 3 other moms that you'd love to have as a part of your co-op. Don't worry about starting small, because they may have 2 or 3 other moms in mind as well. Then, to borrow Nike's famous slogan, "Just Do It!" Meet them at the park, give them a call, you can even share this blog post and say, "Hey, I'm interested in doing this - you in?"

So, go for it ladies, Find Your Tribe! I know it will be so worth it! Then, check back next Friday, July 1st, for Lesson 2: Define Your Structure.

So..... I did promise you a story.

Almost exactly 4 years ago I went to a park playdate with a mom that I kinda knew from church. We had a few mutual friends, but had never really hung out. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by her - she seemed to have it all together. But we both had boys that were the exactly the same age and were both pregnant with our second boy. So, I sent what felt like a super random text, and we set up a playdate at the park.

The boys loved playing together and she and I pieced together a conversation, mostly revolving around our boys. Was it a perfect playdate? No. But she was really sweet, and I wanted to get to know her more. We got together a couple more times, Then, I invited her to the preschool co-op that was getting started. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to today. My boys are absolutely best friends with hers. They adore playing together and treat each other more like brothers than friends. She is truly one of my best friends, and now we get up early one day a week to run together. So we can just have time to chat, without the constant interruption of kiddos. Honestly, she has blessed my life tremendously, and looking back, I am so thankful for that initially awkward park date. It has blossomed into a "better than I could ever ask" for friendship.   

That's a little bit of my story. What will yours be? So, go for it! You never know what friendships may grow from a simple question. 

See you next week!

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