Ideas for Childcare
When thinking about hosting families in community group, we recommend this two-list approach. You’ll likely need one solution from the first list to create a space in which the kids can engage with group separate from the majority of the adults in group. Ultimately this just differentiates conversation; the kids can talk about kid things, and the adults can talk about adult things. Your one solution from this list can also be a combination of multiple things.
The second list provides kid-friendly ideas for your group to help kids and their parents be more comfortable in your group. Pick as many of these as you like. As you develop your overall strategy you’ll have a hard time getting by without something from list #1, but list #2 is what will help kids and parents enjoy time at your weekly group meetings.
1. Kid spaces
- Have a rotation where 1-2 people from your group hang with the kids in a separate space from where the adults meet.
- Hire a sitter and split the cost as a group.
- Alter the rhythm of your meeting schedule. For example, in the 4 weeks of the month you can have everyone meet week 1, just the ladies meet week 2 while the guys watch the kids, everyone meet week 3, then just the guys meet while the ladies watch the kids. This is only one example of breaking up your rhythm; you can be very creative with this one by altering who is there or where, when, and how you meet.
- If two members of your group live near one another, consider hosting the adults at one house and the kids at another.
- Move the time of your group up to accommodate for bedtimes.
- Move your group meeting to a different day, maybe even a weekend afternoon, to accommodate for bedtimes, naps, or family rhythms.
- Make your group time more regimented so parents can plan for their kid’s schedules. Start on time, end on time, and maybe even consider doing a shorter, more concentrated weekly meeting (this will succeed best when combined with the next solution).
- Provide time outside of the regular weekly meeting for adults and kids (or just adults or just kids) to spend time together. For most families, time outside formal meeting is even more important than for singles or couples without kids.
- Consider meeting at the home of someone with kids to make sure you meet in a childproofed setting. Be sure to have kid friendly spaces for families:
- Does a family need a pack and play? Don’t make them lug their own there if you can help it.
- Are toys/books available for kids to help them spend their time at group?
- Make sure breakable/harmful objects are up and out of the way. Don’t lure a child in with your prized coffee brewer or your $45 anthropology candle.
- Snacks if necessary (don’t have them out if the kids can’t have them).
- Make sure there’s a place for changing and feeding where parents feel comfortable.
- What house or meeting space would be really enjoyable for kids? Who has an awesome backyard, who lives near a park, or has other kids with toys to play with.
- Consider how you can give kids their own community in your group. Coming regularly to the weekly meeting, having time to interact with the adults of group, and making time outside the regular meeting with other kid-aged group members are some ways to do this.