Dear Parents of My Children’s Friends:
I won’t lie. I have a love/hate relationship with playdates. The longer I have kids, the more I dread playdates. I don’t mind having a ton of kids over. I’m thrilled when my kids get to see their friends outside of school. I don’t even mind the inevitable tug of war over toys or the kid meltdown that always seems to be part of every playdate.
What I do mind is when parents bring their kids over and don’t have any manners. No, I don’t mean the kids. I mean the parents. I mind when parents lack proper playdate etiquette.
I know. You’re probably surprised there is such a thing but there is, at least at my house. So until I hear the best three words a parent can hear, “drop off playdate,” I thought I’d suggest the proper playdate etiquette for parents:
1. Don’t change your baby’s nappy on my couch. Put something under your baby for goodness sake. Just because your baby’s tush is tiny doesn’t mean it can’t do some seriously gross damage to my furniture. Plus it’s completely unsanitary for the next person (me) who wants to sit on the couch after you’ve cleaned that tiny bottom with nothing underneath.
2. Put a swim nappy on your child before she gets in the pool. If someone invites you over to her pool and your child is still in nappies, come prepared with swim nappies and don’t put your kid in the pool in a regular nappy. They leak and they’re not sanitary. Ick.
3. Respect the two-hour rule. There’s an unspoken rule that play dates are two hours and not more. Why two hours? Because at two hours and one minute, kids seem to magically fall apart. So unless you’re a close friend of the host or the host has specified a longer play date time, plan on leaving in two hours so the host doesn’t have to find a polite way to kick you out.
4. Offer to clean up after your child. No host expects a clean house after having a bunch of kids over, but it doesn’t mean she should have to hire a cleaning crew to undo the damage. The host probably won’t take you up on it, but at least offer to clean up before leaving. Who knows? Your child may notice and offer to help clean up, too.
5. Playdates don’t equal time off for you. It’s uncomfortable for a host to have to discipline your children, so don’t put her in that position. If you know your kid is on the wilder side or if your child has a hard time sharing, check in on them. Just because there are other parents at the playdate doesn’t mean it’s your cue to put your feet up and relax.
6. Don’t expect the host to feed you, too. Most hosts are going to have snacks and drinks for the kids, but that doesn’t mean they should be expected to be a grown-up caterer as well.
7. House rules apply. Whatever the host is offering is what’s being served. Whatever activity the host suggests is what’s being done. Your child may not be happy, but it’s a great time for your kid to learn to be a gracious guest.
8. Say thank you. This goes for your child, too.
9. Reciprocate. It doesn’t matter what your house or apartment looks like or if it’s bigger or smaller than a friend’s. If a friend has you and your child over for a play date, you should have them over sometime soon. It’s just the right thing to do.
10. Do what the host does. When the kids get to be a certain age, they can have a successful play date without parents hovering nearby. So if the host isn’t hovering over the kids, you shouldn’t either. It’s her house. She sets the rules.
Now that you know the rules, you’re going to be a much better guest. All we need is the kids to follow the rules and we’ll have a perfect play date! That’s what I call fun!
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