Successful Play Dates for People Who Hate Play Dates

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Image via Amanda Rodriguez

I don’t like play dates.

Never, ever have they been my thing.

Mostly, I don’t enjoy being around other kids. Or their parents. Or other kids and their parents. Or just other parents?

Back when my children were small, and I could make them just play with the children of people I was already friends with, things were easy. My 2-year-old son could be paired up with my friend’s 1-year-old daughter, and we could sit in the kitchen and gossip over chocolate while our children colored on the bathroom wall played happily at our feet or something. 

If play dates really aren’t your thing, don’t have them. Young kids aren’t really that attached to their friends, anyway.

But then my kids started getting older, and they started making their own friends—you know, with people they actually wanted to spend time with. And because I’m not an entirely evil being, I thought that was cute and probably should be encouraged, so I’d reach out and attempt to organize a get-together of some sort. 

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Only, here’s the thing: 4-year-olds aren’t really old enough to be dropped off at the park to fend for themselves. And most attentive parents feel pretty uncomfortable leaving their 4-year-olds in the care of a virtual stranger for a few hours.

Totally understandable.

But also annoying.

Because if I wanted my 4-year-old to enjoy an afternoon with little Billy from preschool, I’d also have to spend an afternoon with his mother, Chanda-who-never-stops-talking-about-every-other-mom-at-school-who-has-the-audacity-to-not-be-as-skinny-or-as-pretty-or-as-rich-as-her.  

Same is true for when he wants to get together with Violet, the totally sweet child of Phyllis-the-passive-aggressive-mom-who-is-also-the-best-parent-ever-and-likes-to-remind-you-of-that-and-all-of-the-things-you-are-doing-wrong-repeatedly. Or Jack, the allergy-riddled son of Susie, who thinks it’s OK for Jack to hit and snatch and share nothing ever because his allergies make his life hard.

See where I’m going with this?

Play dates are hard. And it's not always because the kids are needy, picky, mean, or obnoxious. It's because moms can be all of those things, too! 

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Not to say I don’t have my quirks, too. It's just that in the company of strangers, I make every effort to be polite, mindful of my child, and only judge silently in my head and never out loud where they can hear keep my opinions and unsolicited advice to myself for at least the few hours we are forced to be together for the sake of the kids.

Want to experience play-date success? Here are a few golden rules for successful play dates:

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What do you think?

Successful Play Dates for People Who Hate Play Dates

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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3 comments

  1. Shayla says:

    Look to your right. Look to your left. The friends you have now will be gone in a few years, because they will die, move away or things will change. You may regret having turned down playdate opportunities to make friends with other parents.

  2. mommy nhoj says:

    It can really be awkward for parents and hats off to you for the effort to be polite and civil for the sake of your child’s simple joys.

  3. sayhola says:

    How nice to acknowledge that playdates aren’t the easiest thing sometimes. Neat article, thanks!

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