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Advice Everyday Kids Parenting

Yes, I like your kids. No, I really don’t want to set up a Playdate.

Playdate. What does that do to your body when you see, hear or even use that term? Do you feel warm and cozy like you’re laying on a hammock with gentle sunshine and a soothing breeze? Or do you feel like you’re hiding behind a half torn piece of cardboard attempting to shield yourself from an unexpected blizzard, with 100 mph winds? I don’t know why, but I must admit I lean more towards the hardly shielded windstorm when I hear it. I don’t even have a really good reason why. I do however have a few small interactions with the term that for some reason, just kind of give me the shoulder shakes. But the unpleasant kind. Maybe it has something to do with the first time I encountered it. There was a group of playdate obsessed woman with unnaturally high voices speaking to me, my daughter and each other like we were 4-year-old valley girls. Woah. I just couldn’t hang. My daughter was actually 3 at the time and asked me why the ladies were talking like babies. Oh, honey, I do not know.

Needless to say, ever since then the term just makes me cringe. And it doesn’t even necessarily have to do with the kids or the parents. But there’s this heavy feeling of a burden that it carries. I’ve learned over the years that there are different variations and ways to toss around a playdate invitation, and it just keeps confirming that I’m still not a fan.

We have the, “Hey, want to have a playdate at your house?” Which means, I’m tired of my kids right now, but want them to be entertained and don’t want to take on your kid as well. Do you want that task?

Then there’s the, “Ohhhh, what are you doing next Thursday from 2:30-5:15? My kid would love to have a playdate!” Which means, I have an appointment or arrangement of some sort on that day and really don’t feel like bringing my kid along.

Of course, the picking your kid up from school to hear all sorts of, “PLAYDATE! PLAYDATE! PLAYDATE!” When all I hear is, “Mayday, mayday, mayday…”

I used to be terrified of school pick up for these interactions alone. My mind would think of so many important things as to why we were busy that day. There wasn’t even really a reason to put up any blocks. I just wanted to pick up my child from school, enjoy hearing about her day, head home and then take it from there. But it almost feels like as soon as the school bell rings, the streets fill up with over-caffeinated zombies, who instead of wanting braaaaaiinnns, they are set on an instant playdate. It’s such a relief when you have a friend who can mutually shiver a little bit when they also hear those words echoing through their ears. Instead of racking your own brain as to why, no sorry today isn’t a good day. You can look at each other and know there’s no need for an explanation. You just really don’t want to set up a playdate that day.

And it’s never a dislike or insult against the kid, ok… maybe an occasional time or two… we’re all human. But I think playdate has been tossed around as a coverup for a babysitting handoff. It might be different if someone was like, “Hey, our kids should hang out soon, they’d have fun. Let’s figure out when works.” See, that I can happily do. It feels like your kid’s best interest is at heart, and not like you are asking for free babysitting, you sly lil’ devil. And if someone needs a babysitter, just simply ask. With the right approach, most people are more than happy to help. Rather than using “playdate” like a red flagged escape, and having to dissect your schedule and basically sign a contract saying, on that day, at that time, your happy tush is having a playdate. And you will like it.

Maybe this makes me a total turd of a mom for knocking hangtime based on word usage, but I can’t seem to shake it. I just can’t. But of course, there’s only so many times you can make an excuse for another day. To be totally honest, I genuinely enjoy my daughter’s friends and think they’re amazing. But, woah, one day can we drop
this term? So, maybe not a playdate today. But you’re welcome to come and hang out anytime.




  • Lydia

    You seem to be a very self absorbed woman who doesn’t care abiabt her child’s desires to socialize (which h is a very important skill to develop). You also are making a lot of incorrect assumptions about the motives if other moms…project much?
    My expeeiexpe with playdates are that mom’s get together with their kids and enjoy socializing themselves which provides a model for their children to follow ( re: not I terruointe, sharing, asking others about themselves, not being self absorbed). It seems you and your child might benefor from a playdate.
    I suggest you invite a mom over for tea/coffee or lunch with their child for a playdate. Since you have a tendency to feel out upon perhaps you should ask her to bring her own lunch. Or arrangeati meet with mother& child at a park. Parents do that yiu know. Who knows you might even learn that other people are not just out there to take advantage of you. Best of luck.

    • Dana Balafas

      Lydia, thank you for your input. Just to provide some clarification, this article was in no way intended to knock the importance of social interaction between kiddos or parents. As I do agree with you that it is a strong building block. It was more-so intended on having a light-hearted, comical approach to the specific term, “play date”. And you’re absolutely right, coffee and lunch, or heading to the park with friends and their kids are some of the best ways to get together! Hopefully this clears up any misunderstanding. Thanks again for taking the time to read the article!

    • Remedial classes for all

      Perhaps an online English / grammar class might be a good use of your time instead of judging her …

    • Carrie

      I don’t think we read the same article….did you see this part? “Hey, our kids should hang out soon, they’d have fun. Let’s figure out when works.” “See, that I can happily do. It feels like your kid’s best interest is at heart, and not like you are asking for free babysitting, you sly lil’ devil. ”

      My kids get tons of social interaction at church, at the ymca, through sports, parks programs, school, etc… I rarely do formal play dates where I’m baby sitting other peoples’ kids or ask them to take mine. IF I need help, I flat out ask for help, not try to disguise it as an opportunity for them. Is everyone out to take advantage of you? No, but a lot do. There’s a difference between offering to host a play date and asking someone else to host. This article seemed mostly about dealing with the awkwardness of people inviting you to host one.

      Personally, I usually arrange meetings at neutral locations, not my home. We don’t have a lot of space and we do have a very big energetic dog that can get worked up easily with lots of little kid energy, lol.

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