An editor from Parents magazine called me recently and asked “What’s the perfect playdate?” Since I have focused so much on the mantra of this site (and it’s companion book), I wanted to immediately respond, “One where the moms are having fun.” But no, she was interested in more of what Parents magazine readers want to read, so the follow up questions were more about what the children should be doing. What time is ideal? What should the host do if the guest child acts out? Tattle when her mom arrives? Discipline her?
For me, and probably for most readers of this site, these questions are a little hard to field. We are still playdate rookies, really. We haven’t had much experience with the drop off playdate.
Since Heather has recently complimented me on my ability to set boundaries, I thought I’d share a related tip with you. If you are hosting someone, whether it’s a whole family for dinner, or a mom/kid duo for play, be clear when you make the plans about what time you need them to leave. It is completely reasonable to want your guests to depart so that you can make dinner, get to the gym, return phone calls, or get to SLEEP if you have a baby who DOESN’T!
Today in fact, I need to be using Scarlett’s naptime to work, so I told our playdate that she couldn’t get to our house before 11 am. If I don’t do this, my playdate is on her own schedule, because it’s the visitor who announces she needs to leave. It’s harder for the host to kick a guest out. If her kid doesn’t need to nap or she’s got no one to make dinner for, she might lollygag at my house, leaving me with only one hour free before I go on full mommy duty with both kids, inadvertently stressing me out. So, take a lesson from me. When you invite someone over for a playdate (even if it’s just a pretend playdate for the mommies to talk while the babies sit in their infant seats) say, “We can’t wait to see you. I can hang out until 3 pm and then I need to do other things.”
Oh, and a bonus tip for preschool playdate havers – meet at the park so that no one has to host, feed everyone, clean up, etc. Then you can leave whenever you want.