Playdates say a lot about not just what kind of host you are, but what kind of parenting substitute you are. With more kids in attendance than your own, mixed company often makes for slight adjustments in your otherwise hard and fast (or fluid) parenting style. Are you the let’s get crunk on sugar mom? The lax, pile everyone in the backyard mom? The let’s get booooooozey while our kids are playing mom? Only your signature playdate style can tell.
If you put the kids in another room in your house and just check up every 20 minutes
You’re a low maintenance mom that doesn’t cut the crusts off on sandwiches, cuts your kids’ apples into uneven wedges, and doesn’t want to hear crap about it. Bento boxes are great and all but you’d rather have sleep. The room they’re in is child-proofed, after all, with no electronics and if something is wrong, they can holler. Other parents call this style “unstructured play” or what have you. But for you, it’s just called “hey, we have kids over and mommy will be folding laundry in the other room.”
(photo: Mads Boedker)
If you plop your kids in the backyard and keep an eye on them
Other parents give you grief about this but you are not about to hovercraft your kids, and therefore any other kids that enter your home. You’ve done the mental math and if anyone even so much as looked at your kids in the yard, you could be back there with a shovel in three seconds. People call you “lax” with regards to your kids’ safety, but there isn’t anything lax about your mama bear reflexes.
(photo: amy <3 lee)
If you invite other parents. And booze.
It’s your philosophy that playdates should be as much for parents as they are for the kids. Which is why a playdate invitation in your house doesn’t go out without a bottle of wine or two stocked in your kitchen and maybe some swank appetizers. It may be uncouth to drink alone, but that’s what your kid’s friend’s parents are for. Put the kids in the living room, uncork, and have at the week’s topics. You’re the favorite neighborhood mom for a reason. Cheers.
If you plan elaborate outings
Staying inside is for after school and rainy Sunday afternoons. If you have your kid’s friends in tow, then to the zoo, concerts, or even a simple cafe it is. You order the works: full price tickets, hot chocolates AND cookies, and gift shop purchases all the way around. It’s all on your tab because you just roll like that. You invited the kid out with your kid so you roll out the red carpet. Guest always has a capital “G” in your house and this is no exception. Conversely, you expect other parents to shell out for your kiddie and visibly raise an eyebrow when they don’t.
If you don’t allow playdates at your house. Period.
You don’t invite little rugrats over to your house because you like your house the way it is. While your own kid seems to respect the no shoes in the house, no food in the bedroom rules, their pint-sized house guests never seem to. Something about your kid having a rebellious taste in friends who have zero respect for authority. For now, playdates consist of places where the kids can get all kinds of filthy (read: the park) and then part ways over concrete. Perhaps this can change once your kid changes friend groups.
If you’re concerned that a modern day playdate is kids crowded around an iPad for three hours
You feel old admitting this but in you’re day, a playdate meant, you know, ACTUAL PLAY. These days, the kids barrel through the door, ask you where the iPad and charger are, and all sit around in an Angry Birds circle. Sometimes you bring them sandwiches, which they ritualistically consume gathered around the screen like cubicle zombies. You’ve considered getting rid of the iPad — or rather telling your kid that it “broke.” But moderation in technological devices is something you want to instill in your kid. Now if only the kids who came over wouldn’t say hi and then immediately ask for the device.