*Disclaimer* Please don’t read this if you’re looking for advice on how to be a better parent or how to throw an awesome playdate or any real parenting advice frankly. This is all in fun, please don’t ruin it with logic. Also, this was written a few years ago*
From the outside looking in some might say I’m a lazy mom. I don’t go out of my way to take my kid to every sporting event, dance, piano or art lesson. Currently, they are signed up for nothing. That’s right nada, Uno, zip! Is it because I’m lazy? Those who really know me would say I’m anything but lazy. I’m always busy with some new project or another. I spend a lot of time with my kids when I’m not working and rest assured they are in no way being ignored or neglected. My youngest is four years old (at the time I wrote this) and has special needs. We aren’t sure what yet, but there’s a list of issues we are still working on with him. This takes a lot out of me some days as he goes through a lot of ups and downs, and well I have fibromyalgia. Some days getting out of bed can feel next to impossible. I’ll spare you the details of my daily drudgery dealings. However, the main reason I don’t have my kids signed up for anything is time and money and the lack thereof. I’m hoping that will change by fall as I truly do want them to take all kinds of lessons including, piano, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, swim lessons, and so on. It’s making the time and finding the money to do so that I’m finding hard to do right now. But for now, I’m learning to pace myself and take care of me. I’ve come to the point that I realize that I can’t take care of my family if I’m not taking care of myself. Sometimes that means being a little selfish. But it becomes necessary when your physical and mental health are always being tested.
So this is where we come to the discussion of playdates and a simple breakdown of my personal observation. Tell me what you think of this list and if you’ve experienced any of them for yourself.
The next-door neighbor kids:
Well, they live next door, so I don’t have to arrange a play date or drive my kids somewhere. Unfortunately, they are always starving and even though they live a few houses away, somehow they want MY food from MY house. (I always say yes of course, because perhaps for all I know maybe they are in fact starving at home.)
Annoyance Factor= -1
The best buddies from the school playground:
I don’t know their parents, and I barely know the buddy. What are their values and what habits will they teach my kids? Typically this entails what I call “Playdate on my turf”” This means I need to oversee the playdate to determine who this kid is. Are they polite and kind to my child or do they have bad manners and curse like a sailor? Do they dress like a streetwalker? Part of a gang? Spent time in the slammer? These are all things I don’t particularly want rubbing off on my children. Realistically though it could just be that they’re spoiled little brats that are bossy and rude and don’t share. Typically I’ll invite them over to my house to play several times before I determine if I feel comfortable having them play together for starters and whether I feel my child would be safe in their home for a future play date as well. Something I really struggle with, as I have known others close to me that have become a victim of molestation as a child. These buddies can easily go either way as a play date companion for my children. The best of friends or the worst of enemies.
Annoyance Factor= -1
Close, but not quite kids:
They live in the neighborhood, but not close enough where I feel it’s safe for my child to walk or ride their bike there. This means I need to provide transportation to their home or they need to bring their child to my home. Whether it’s walking, bike riding or by car. It still has a certain inconvenience factor to it. But, there is always that knowledge of “Hey one less kid may be slightly less noise” or “Maybe I can get some work done if my kid has someone to entertain them.”
Annoyance Factor= -1
The Cousin Campout:
This is my personal fave! My sister calls and wants to have my children over to play with her kids and even offers to let them spend the night! WOOHOO! Hey honey, let’s go out tonight! Yes! I know my sister, and I know her kids and feel comfortable having them all together. After all, we were raised with the same values!
Convenience Factor= PRICELESS!
Annoyance Factor= Why doesn’t she do this more often?! (love my sisters!)
The other dilemma you may run into with play dates is, what if you like your child’s friend, but can’t stand their parent, or maybe the parent doesn’t like you OR your child? Suddenly they always have an excuse why their kid can’t play with your kid, and you feel like you’ve been rejected for a date instead of your own child. What went wrong? Was it something I said or my kid said or did? Just remember, all is fair in playdate land. I also find myself not being able to find playdates for both of my older children at the same time. Then I get to hear the other one complain because they ‘have NOTHING to do!’ and there’s ‘NOBODY to play with!’ and of course, it’s in their most annoying, whining voice possible. Which makes me almost not want to make playdates for either one unless they BOTH have a play date……*sigh*
So how about you? How do you deal with these dilemmas when arranging playdates?