An essential part of the week for a lot of parents desperate to get out of their own homes and around other grown-ups, while the kids entertain each other. It’s glorious. It’s necessary. It’s messy. And loud. And a little chaotic.
And what most parents don’t realize is that there are some unspoken rules of playdate.
So, if you’re new to the whole concept, and you want to be invited back, let me clue you in.
Clean up your messes (and your child’s)
We all have varying degrees of what we consider to be neat and tidy, but when you’re in someone else’s territory, that concept should be sky high. If you’re really a slob, pretend you’re visiting the Queen of England. If you’re an average slob, pretend you’re preparing for your mother-in-law to visit. If you use it, put it back/clean it. If your kid breaks it, replace it. And when it’s getting to be time to go home (even if you have to leave before everyone else does and the kids are still playing) make sure your kid has done his/her share of the cleaning, and if they’re too little (or stubborn) to do it themselves, do it for them. Your job as a guest should essentially be to make the host’s/hostess’ clean up time virtually nil.
This could fall under many different categories: food, space, conversation, etc. Don’t just show up and be a mooch. Bring something to share like a bowl of fruit, a case of juiceboxes for the kids, a box of donuts, or a bottle of wine if that’s your thing (I don’t judge). Schedule a day for yourself to host playdate sometime. If your house doesn’t have sufficient space or a layout that works well for playdate, then plan something for at a park, but be in charge of planning and hosting it. And don’t just sit there on your phone when you are there, engage with the people you’re with. Contribute to the conversation. Even if you’re not a very talkative person, giving your attention to those who are is just polite.
Take care of your kid
Yes, playdate is a time for the grown-ups to hang out and catch up while the kids go off and play. But you’re still responsible for your kid(s). So, if your kid is screaming or crying or misbehaving, don’t make the rest of the parents feel awkward about trying to address it themselves, get up and go to your child to take care of things yourself. And yes, part of having a community of parents is often taking care of each other’s kids for little things, like grabbing them a tissue or handing them a snack off the counter, but for the most part, harmony remains in balance when we parent our own kids.
Hosting isn’t always easy, and you know you’re glad it’s not you. Even if you’re having a crap day and your kid is losing his mind so you’re leaving early (but not before cleaning up- see rule 1) make sure you say thank you to your host. Even the really Monica-centered people like me (“I am always the hostess”) stress a little over hosting playdate and put a little time and effort (or sometimes a lot) into making sure things are clean and ready to be dismantled by the kids.
So follow the rules, and you’ll probably be invited back. And thank goodness, right? Because we all need that break in the week!
Hope your playdate is a success this week!