Before every move we've made in the last two years, I've made it a point to find a playgroup before we moved so that I was totally prepared to jump into activities when we got there. Before we left Pittsburgh, the group I was in advised me to check meetup.com to find groups anywhere and that was a valuable tip. It helped me find my playgroups in both Michigan and South Carolina. When it came to finding a playgroup in Germany, it wasn't quite as helpful. The only one it came up with in the area was over an hour away and that was way too far for me, even if I did have a car at my disposal. This meant I would have to get creative and hopefully find a group another way. I started to Google english speaking playgroups and came up with a few hits, that I immediately emailed.
The first one was the Vaihingen International Playgroup (Vaihingen is another area of Stuttgart) and the other was the English Playgroup. I heard back from the Vaihingen group first and found out they did a weekly playgroup for kids aged 0-3 on Monday mornings. The English group got back to me second (also located in Vaihingen), and their weekly playgroup for the same ages was at the same exact time on Monday mornings. The Vaihingen group (VIP) was free and the English group cost 50 Euros for 6 months. That made it an easy choice. I chose VIP.
Once we got internet, I was able to plot out a train route to Vaihingen and was able to make it my first playgroup on January 31. There were about six other moms there with their kids and they ranged from 6 months old to almost 3 years old. There were songs and toys for the kids to play with while the moms chatted. I had talked to a few of the moms on the facebook page for the group before we went, so it was nice to meet them in person.
There was one little boy there, Gordon, is two and half months older than Brady. He's very vocal and speaks very well, but he also speaks in Brady's language of loving to run and play. His mom invited us to get some lunch with her and at that point our food selection was very limited, so I was more than happy to grab some lunch. We walked to a corner bakery, grabbed some food, and walked back to her house, only a few blocks from the bakery. The boys had a great afternoon playing together until they wore each other out.
The next week, I knew I wasn't going to make it to the playgroup due to the Super Bowl being on in the middle of the night here. Some of the other moms mentioned they wouldn't be there due to a child's illness or other reasons, so they cancelled it for the week. Later on that same week, we got an email from the woman who organizes it, saying they were going to combine it with the Tuesday afternoon group, due to low attendance in both groups. The moms I had met were all a little taken aback by that and how our facebook page was immediately taken down before we had the change to network with other people. Fortunately, I had made contacts before the page was taken down and a few of the moms and I decided we'd start rotating houses each week so that our kids could still have a playdate. Tuesday afternoons didn't work for us because it was in the middle of Brady's nap and since it takes us almost an hour to get there via train and walking, it wouldn't be work waking him up early.
I got some other leads of other things in the area, such as the Children's English Library and the International Women's Club of Stuttgart, that had children's activities. The Women's Club also had more activities for the moms, like a night out and monthly meetings where they provide a sitter. The moms I had established a weekly playdate with would in varying combinations meet me at these new activities. It was great to start filling our days with more than sitting at home. I like to have at least two activities outside of the home per week.
This week it was my turn to host, so everyone who was available came to my house yesterday. We had four moms and four kids, including myself and Brady. It was perfect timing because Brady had recently received his birthday gifts and had some great new toys to share. Below are pictures of Gordon and Brady playing with his remote control cars (spoiler alert since I haven't been able to get the pictures yet from Brady's birthday).
Brady and Gordon playing cars. The cars can be quite noisy, so we were glad when the boys decided they were just as happy playing with the cars that go on the track, but don't need a remote.
Gregory (14 months) and Emma (7 months) watching the big boys play. It was fun for all!