Play groups provide fun for kids, sanity for parents

Play groups have definitely evolved over the years. In the '70s, my mother would drag us to the neighbor's house so they could smoke 10 or 12 Merits and suck black coffee while we unattended kids entertained ourselves by sticking band-aids all over the television screen or dressing up in lingerie found in a bottom dresser drawer.

Today, play groups are more formal and child-focused, but still serve the same purpose: to allow kids to interact with other kids and to keep mom -- or dad -- connected, informed and sane. (You can only spend so much time playing on the livingroom floor and eventually, you run out of errands.)

Play groups involve a number of parents meeting in a designated location on the same day and at the same time. Some meet weekly, some bi-weekly and some monthly. Parents might sit in a loose circle, with kids and toys in the middle, so they can control the number of hair-pulling episodes while conversing with other parents about topics ranging from The Wiggles to toilet training and everything in between.

Some groups require nominal fees to cover the rental cost of the room. Attendance is based on a drop-in basis and it's perfectly acceptable to come for a portion of the playgroup if naps or other commitments overlap. Call ahead before attending any of the listed groups.

Lake Park Playgroup
Day: Thursdays
Time: Noon
Location: 3233 E. Kenwood Blvd., Playground at Lake Park

Lake Park "Baby & Me"
Day: First and third Tuesday mornings of each month
Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Location: Lake Park Lutheran Church, 2647 N. Stowell Ave.
Call: Jennifer, (414) 962-3114

SOS Moms (South Side Moms)
Days: First Friday morning and third Thursday of every month.
Time: 9 a.m.-11 a.m.
Location: Varies
Call: Megan, (414) 328-4917

Family Drop-In
Days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday morning
Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Location: YWCA Family Center, 5555 W. Capitol Dr.
Call: (414) 449-8685

Martin Luther Playgroup
Day: Friday mornings
Time: 9:30 - 11 a.m.
Location: Church, 93rd Street and Bluemound Road
Call: Maureen Stake, (414) 443-9318

St. Robert's Playgroup
Day: Tuesdays
Time: 9:30 - 11 a.m.
Location: St. Robert's Church, 4019 N. Farwell Ave.
Call: Lisa, (414) 962-8496
Summer hours vary, call ahead

Power Play
Day: Wednesday mornings
Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
Location: South Milwaukee Community Center, 1919 S. 12th Ave.
Call: (414) 483-2685

Drop-In Family Time
Days: Tuesday & Thursday mornings
Time: 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Location: The Samson Family Center, 909 E. Garfield Ave.
Call: (414) 263-8397, x126

Baby's On Board, Toys and Tots and Kids and Families At Play
Time and days vary
Location: Bay View Community Center, 1320 E. Oklahoma Ave.
Call: (414) 482-1000

Coffee & Play
Day: Tuesday mornings
Time: 9:30-11 a.m.
Location: Northshore Presbyterian Church, 4048 N. Bartlett Ave.
Call: (414) 964-9935

Little Lambs Playgroup
Day: Wednesday mornings
Time: 9:30-11 a.m.
Location: St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2618 N. Hackett Ave.
Call: (414) 962-0500

Tosa Toddler Playgroup
Day: Thursday mornings
Time: 10:15-11:45 a.m.
Location: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1717 Church St.
Call: Meredith, (414) 444-4233

Twins Playgroup
Day: Thursday
Time: 9-11 a.m.
Location: Parents Place Community Family Center, 1570 E. Moreland Blvd.
Call: (262) 549-5575

Kidz Klub
Day: Fridays
Location: Memorial Lutheran Church, 7701 N. Green Bay Rd.
Call ahead: (414) 352-1160

Southside Wellness Project of Oak Creek
Days: Mondays and Thursdays
Time: 1-2:30 p.m.
Location: Oak Creek Community Center, 8580 S. Howell Ave
Call: Kate or Jennifer, (414) 389-0997

Moms Club of Menomonee Falls
Location: Emmanuel Community United Methodist Church, N84 W16707 Menomonee Ave.
Call for more information: (414) 299-9825

Parenting Naturally--Shorewood
Day: Tuesday
Time: 9:30-11 a.m.
Location: Kingo Lutheran Church, 1225 E. Olive St.

Parenting Naturally--Wauwatosa
Day: Wednesday
Time: 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Location: St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 1615 Wauwatosa Ave.

Mother's & More
National, non-profit group serving Milwaukee's west suburbs. There are 25 local play groups associated with this organization. Contact Annette Herbert at (262) 820-0446 or aherbert@wi.rr.com for more information.

Have a play group to add to this list? E-mail Molly Snyder Edler at molly@staff.onmilwaukee.com

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