The dreaded playdate. I honestly have never liked them. Maybe that makes me a bad mom, or a selfish mom, but I honestly dread them.
I once got all excited about a playdate, back when I only had my son and he was a lil guy. I was a newish mom and agreed with this other mom that our kids would LOVE to play together. I went full Susie-Homemaker and made a big lunch for us to eat while the kids played. I thought of things to talk about (because I have social anxiety and think of these things) and when she arrived, she thanked me for having her son over and said she’d be back in a couple hours. Insert sad face here.
Then, I was invited by someone else to bring my child over to their house so our kids could play. Insert skeptical face here. My son was routinely pushed and hit and had toys ripped from his hands. It was NOT fun.
I then had an old acquaintance over, as she was being nice and bringing us some bread she’d made. Her 4 kids proceeded to jump on my couches, run across my coffee table, knock pictures off the walls, knocked over a vase, hit our dog in the face and scream like tiny evil banshees.
So, what’s my takeaway? Do I have bad judgment in playdate dates? Do my friends and acquaintances have psychos for kids? Maybe I’m too uptight for playdates? I have no idea. What I do know, is I have never liked them.
Here are my top 6 playdate complaints:
You see strangers at your worst and their worst. NO ONE can be polite and slowly get to know other moms if they are constantly yelling at their kid to stop doing something.
You can’t follow any conversation for more than 8.5 seconds. Just enough time for a person to say something, and then for you to look away at your kid and miss whatever question they asked, and then look back and see them looking at you expectantly. SIGH.
Other people’s kids are mean. I mean, some are great. But let’s be honest…some kids aren’t. My kids then go home and say they don’t like that kid, and they don’t like it when kids take toys from them, and they are sad because the other kid made fun of their coloring, or was bossy, etc…
It’s hard enough keeping my kids from breaking something at my house, doubly stressful at someone else’s house. It’s just an awkward situation to be at an unfamiliar house and have a little crazy sugar junkie rampaging through their home, hoping they don’t break anything.
Having other people tell my kids they can’t say certain things or play a certain way. Don’t tell my kids they can’t play zombies, or cops, or cowboys just because you have girls who whined they are scary games. I DO have a boy…he doesn’t always like to play princesses and kitties.
Being the Mommy Outsider. Yeah, this might be one of my biggest anxieties with a play-date. I hate being invited to a group outing and all the moms there have been momming together for months or years, and I’m just standing there, listening to them gossip, or talk about parties they all went to together, while I stand there, silently watching my kid also being left out, and count down the minutes before it’s polite to go.
Now, I promise, I am not always a poo-pooer. I have also had good playdates, but it’s usually with a friend we know and kids they already know from school. We love meeting at neutral places like the zoo, or a restaurant, or park so that we aren’t stressing about being in someone else’s home or having a bunch of kids ravage ours, and we can choose when to leave. We all love our kids making friends, and having some good fun with other kids, but the best way to do that and keep your anxiety and sanity intact is to find a good neutral location, and something low-pressure. Start small, like, going to get ice cream, or some other meal. That way, it’s a set location, time limit, and isn’t too crazy and chaotic. Then, if you mesh well with the parents, and your kids seem to get along with each other, move up to meeting at a park, zoo, aquarium, the botanic gardens, etc. If everyone is happy, then there is a better chance you’ll mesh in each other’s homes as well.
Good luck and happy Playdating!!