Recently, a mum whose child is in my daughter’s preschool class approached me (again) about setting a play date. I’ve used every possible excuse in the past to avoid scheduling one, but this time I finally told her the truth.
“You know,” I said cautiously, “I just don’t do play dates. I appreciate the offer, but I just don’t do them anymore.”
“I don’t understand,” she replied.
“Sorry, I just don’t do play dates,” I repeated.
I’m sure she walked away thinking I was nuts or rude (or maybe both).
She’s delightful and so are her kids. It’s nothing personal. I hope she’ll understand. It’s just that with my first child I was determined to be the social butterfly of the stroller set, so I scheduled preschooler playdates all the time — until I realised that no one, the kids included, was actually having any fun. Every playdate seemed to involve at least one kid meltdown with the kids not actually playing well together, despite that being the whole point of the playdate. But I felt guilty not scheduling playdates, as if that would somehow hinder my older child from having friends.
By the time I had my younger child, I knew that playdates were a top of my “Not Going to Do That Again” list. Here’s why.
I don’t want to spend the afternoon with someone I don’t know. Most mums are great and lovely, but that doesn’t mean we all want to spend all our free time together. A playdate for a preschooler means a play date for the mums — and that can take a lot of work if you’re not already friends.
Someone always starts crying. On most playdates, one or both kids often have a hard time playing well together. The kids either get wild or they have a hard time sharing a toy. The parents in attendance end up playing traffic cop and quite frankly, it’s no fun.
My daughter has a sibling. For kids with siblings, playdates aren’t quite as important as they are for only children. I always want my daughter to have friends of her own, but scheduling playdates when you have two kids of two different ages is tricky. Plus, I want my kids to have time to be together. A sibling is a built-in playdate, after all.
The kids see each other at school. My little one is in school until 2:30 every day. That’s plenty of time to see her friends.
Our schedule is already busy. Between school, homework, after school sports, and any other classes the kids take, there’s very little time left for scheduling playdates. Sometimes I want the kids to have down time where they’re just at home and playing.
Me not scheduling playdates for my preschooler should not be mistaken for me never inviting friends over. We have people over all time, like families with whom we’re friends. And when my daughter is old enough to have drop-off playdates she can have as many friends over as she likes. Until then, she’s got an entire school day to see her friends and then the afternoon free to be with her family. She seems pretty happy and so am I.
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