Playdate Pressures

by Samantha on June 22, 2011


“How about we plan a play date for the kids?”

These words – stated often – have me quaking in my boots.

The topic of play dates, get-togethers, or whatever you want to call them is one that all parents must deal with once their kids become of age. Actually, the average age for play dates seems to be rapidly decreasing in my estimation, but that is a whole other story.

Apparently it is de rigeur to set up a mutually agreeable time for your child and his or her friend to rendezvous at each others homes. While this may be well and good for many, it often doesn’t work for me.

Image courtesty of www.tastearts.com

Call me Ebenezer but I just can’t pull it together, being the mom to 5,000 kids and all. Trying to remember where I left the third basket of laundry that I pulled from the dryer earlier in the day is a more pressing issue and likely top of mind for me, less so than trying to figure out a schedule where I would actually have to coordinate dates and times with another parent. Scheduling is not really my forte.

I can barely figure out where my own kids are at any given point in time, let alone trying to add another one or two to the mix. Inviting additional small children into the chaos that is “home” is one activity that just adds to my anxiety.

Increasingly, the pressure to coordinate play dates with other kids has left a gaping hole in my self-perception as a “good mother.” Other parents just seem to have a knack for coordination and scheduling, something that I’m clearly lacking. Fact of the matter is, I’m busy, most of the time, and invariably the request will come in for a play date, making me realize that I should have made the first move a long time ago. Check, mate. This is the third request from the same parent and my daughter has been over there twice in the past three months. It’s my turn, except I didn’t follow the unwritten rule (and schedule) that dictates that I should have extended the courtesy in keeping with etiquette. Mommy fail once again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. I love playing with kids. I love that my kids have friends and nice ones to boot. I just can’t seem to get it together to follow the proscribed play date etiquette docket. There are whispers in the playground and schoolyard about such ineptitude, I’m sure. Paranoia has set in.

To step back somewhat, there is a larger issue at play here (no pun intended). When I was on maternity leave, I had a much better relationship with my daughter’s friends’ parents, just because I would see them more often. It was easier to plan a mutually-agreeable date with other parents for a get-together for our kids when running into them at the school. Since I went back to work, not so much. Yet the relationship-building and the making of friends by my daughter continued, regardless of whether or not I was there to meet the new friend’s mother or father in the playground during school drop-offs or pick-ups or not. The emails, notes in knapsacks and voice mail messages then commenced, requesting my daughter’s presence in the homes of those with whom I was not familiar. What was a parent to do?

It’s been a work in progress and in truth, my bad for not getting on the play date coordination train, but I guess I missed the memo. Life is busy and I’m not sure when the craziness will subside. To that end, can I get a rain check? If not, then some advice on how to navigate this Brave New World?

Next up? Birthday parties.

VIDEO: How To Deal With Playdates

How do you manage the endless play date requests and commitments for your kids?


Are you good at scheduling and reciprocating get-togethers with your kid’s friends?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

RoryBore June 22, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I don't bother with it often either. On one hand, it can be very enjoyable if the children get along, and you get along with the parents. But, more often than not, I find that the ONLY thing you have in common is that you have children. Adult conversation is often impossible if too many kids are running around. You spend the majority of time settling disputes, or keeping them out of trouble in somone else's home. And if your parenting styles clash…..cue the tension.
I find it much easier, and far more enjoyable to meet people at public places like the park, library, or our local resource center. Safety in numbers I guess. There are only a few people, who we are close to, that we do the home play dates with.
I wouldn't beat yourself up about it.

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Grumpy Grateful Mom June 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Interesting post, as always. I try to do occasional playdates, but not with younger children too much. I may lose track of them! You're so busy! I think children will turn out perfectly, even if they have not met their playdate quota. :)

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Anita June 22, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I have 3 kids 11, 5 and 10 months. And to this day we have officially had 1 playdate. My oldest has had friends slepover but it wasn't until I knew we weren't going to have any bed wetting action! There is enough laundry in a mom's life as it is. The one playdate we have been on was actually really great I met another mom who happens to like some of the same things I do and we now run together and to schedule a time I just told her when we were available and if not then we would have to figure something out for another time. :0

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championm2000 June 23, 2011 at 12:42 am

We don't have a lot of invites–which brings another layer of paranoia and guilt.

But, if/when we do, I hope I am better at juggling their social calendar than I am my own. I am awful about making and following through on social outings with friends.

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Hello! I'm Kate. June 23, 2011 at 3:22 am

I mostly use "playdates" as an excuse for me to be able to spend some adult time girlfriends! At this point my son doesn't really pay much attention to other kids because well let's face it, he's 2 & doesn't really care! Lol as long as the other kids stay away from his trains he's happy! Haha

And I think every parent feels like the other parents out there are wayore organized but when push comes to shove we are all overwhelmed & scatterbrained (at least that's what I'm telling myself! Lol)

Great post!

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Hello! I'm Kate. June 23, 2011 at 3:22 am

I mostly use “playdates” as an excuse for me to be able to spend some adult time girlfriends! At this point my son doesn't really pay much attention to other kids because well let's face it, he's 2 & doesn't really care! Lol as long as the other kids stay away from his trains he's happy! Haha

And I think every parent feels like the other parents out there are wayore organized but when push comes to shove we are all overwhelmed & scatterbrained (at least that's what I'm telling myself! Lol)

Great post!

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Samantha June 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm

@RoryBore I agree with that tactic of taking the kids to a mutually agreeable location like a park or library. At least that way you don't have to worry about the house getting demolished or feeling guilty that your child has broken something inadvertently. Good suggestion and one that I will definitely try more often!
Thanks for your comment

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Samantha June 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm

@Grumpy Grateful Mom Thanks for the vote of confidence! I'm trying to aim for a couple playdates every few months or so, just so that I'm not completely kicked out of the neighborhood parenting club! ;)
Thanks for commenting!

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Samantha June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

@Anita Hi Anita, I think that connecting with a couple of friends that have kids is the way to go. The most awkward thing that happens a lot of the time is trying to socialize with parents of your kids friends with whom you have nothing in common. I have a few friends that I've made with some of my daughter's friends and it has worked out really well. They don't care if the house is a mess and things are ruined, we just sit amongst the chaos and let the kids go crazy. Sometimes with a coffee (or wine) in hand…;)

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Samantha June 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

@championm2000 Hi Melissa, don't be too hard on yourself – it's difficult enough to coordinate lives with your little ones, let alone inviting others over to share in the chaos! I'm sure things will work themselves out as your little ones get bigger. On the flip side, you're lucky that you don't have to deal with a dizzying schedule of expected playdates and get-togethers! It's crazy sometimes!
Thanks for commenting.

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Samantha June 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

@Hello! I'm Kate. Thanks Kate for your wise words. I know intellectually that all the other parents can't possibly have it all together all the time, it's just that they appear that way. Maybe it's just because we are all our own worst enemies much of the time. Point taken and it will definitely be remembered next time I'm asked about scheduling another get together!

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Suzanne June 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I'm feeling the same way right now and tried to squeeze in a playdate yesterday because my son made me feel guilty that he hasn't had one in so long — but it didn't pan out because that mom was working too and grandma was picking up the boy. I totally get it, because that's me every day. It's true that there's some value to staying connected to the parental community, but boy is it a lot of work!

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Samantha June 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

@Suzanne Hi Suzanne, I totally agree about the work involved. Trying to keep up with the various parent's e.g. remembering their names and which parent is the mom of which kid alone is a lot of work, not to mention coordinating schedules! Sometimes I think I should put all the details in a spreadsheet…just like work…
Thanks for commenting!

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