This month, we would like to focus on BYO Bubs Playgroup which is held every Monday of the school term at The Cubby House, a fun and welcoming home right on your doorstep, in Lord Street. There you will find great outdoor spaces to run and play, toys, activities, and other parents to talk to.
Allow us to introduce Cathy Boyce who is the BYO Bubs Program Coordinator:
Cathy began attending playgroup fourteen years ago with her son when it was originally located at the Burnley Backyard. As her son grew, she remained connected to Richmond Community Learning Centre as a member of the Committee and then later by working as a temporary staff member in the Occasional Care Program. Due to changing demographics in Richmond, the playgroup dwindled to one or two children at the most and the program folded. Cathy remained with RCLC then, taking on the role of Community Development Officer at the beginning of 2016 (defined by Cathy as-‘juggling lots of balls and doing whatever needs doing over the three sites we have now!’).
Cathy describes being a trainer of beginners in IT on Monday mornings, when the phone started ringing with parents asking whether the Centre had a Playgroup. Her response was, ‘Well of course we do!’ And BYO Bubs was off and running. To start with, they had a core group of five-six families, keen for some space to run, other parents to talk to and perhaps even the chance to have a coffee and finish a sentence with a grown up…
There are now over thirty families that attend the playgroup: some regularly and some whenever nap times and life works out (and some with nannies in tow). Cathy would like to think that playgroup is as much for parents as it is for the children. In her own words, ‘Parenting can be a lonely business sometimes and the opportunity to meet new people, talk to that mum you always see but have never actually met, get advice and feel like a human for a little while, is much needed.’
As a Richmond local, she appreciates that very few of us have backyards and room to run free, so the large outdoor space is utilised as much as possible with swings, sandpit, climbing frames, a cubby to work on with tools, cars to ride and bubbles to chase. A snack time is shared, sometimes they cook, dance, make sand cupcakes or push prams. It is always a time though, for children to freely move between activities and join in when they want to, or do the same activity for the whole hour and a half!
As far as her own participation goes, Cathy says, ‘As a local, I find it lovely to be out at the shops, or park etc. and get some shy smiles or loud hellos from the precious faces I see on Monday mornings. Mondays are definitely my fun part of the working week before I have to ‘adult’ and get back into an office!’
Some parental perspectives…
As a mother, Sophie Moore finds BYO Bubs a valuable part of her life. This is how she describes her experience: ‘My three year old loves the role-play, building, constructing, riding cars and pushing prams. Group morning-tea is a highlight too. I have made wonderful friends who provide loads of support. Big thumbs up to Cath. Would be lost without Monday morning playgroup.’
Sarah McKenzie has been attending the group for two years. She is a busy mum of two, a wife and an artist and also works for a construction company. One of the attractions of living in Richmond for her is that virtually everything the family needs (including her work and art studio) is within walking distance. She describes the quality of life here in Richmond as great as she can watch her children grow up alongside other neighbourhood kids as they play, create together and form their identity in this nurturing community. Other local organisations and activities which Sarah values are St Bartholomew’s Church, the local primary schools, kinders and street picnics and barbecues.
Sarah has helped out with some of the craft activities at BYO Bubs and sometimes treats the children to face-painting. She has mentioned a key benefit of playgroup being coming across parents and children with different opinions on life. She finds it particularly encouraging to see different viewpoints respected as the parents share a hot cuppa while the children play together in the sandpit. Sarah credits the activities run by Cathy, RCLC and Burnley Backyard with helping to stimulate positive community relationships.
To all the staff and participants involved in BYO Bubs, we extend a huge thank-you from the Richmond community. You are providing a much-needed welcoming, supportive and educational environment for future generations and their parents.
The Cubby House offers a range of activities, programs and educational opportunities aimed to support families and their children.
- occasional childcare
- 3+ learning program
- Parents groups
- Parenting information evenings
- Outdoor Playgroups
- Facilities and Spaces to hire (Great for birthday parties!)
- and other family orientated activities