Thursday, September 21, 2006

Play Date Etiquette

I know a lot of things, most of them totally random and useless. I know more about the way the inter-web works than 90% of the people out there. Ask me about the emergence of the middle class or the agrarian to industrial transition in Russia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Want to go on an architectural tour, I can handle it. I could spank a lot of you in the World Series of Pop Culture (even took a class in pop culture.)

On the flip side, there are some very basic things that I have no clue about. For instance, what, exactly, is the Play Date Etiquette? I've got a kid who needs to socialize with other kids. He needs to learn how to share toys and be beat up by someone bigger. He could use someone around his age to talk with and improve his communication skills. We live in a condo so it's not like there are a bunch of kids to throw him out onto the lawn with. It seems, logically, that we need some play dates.

However, I'm a total neophyte when it comes to the Mommy stuff. I don't want to be THAT mom: the one who stays too long, who doesn't know when to drop off or pick up, the one who doesn't reciprocate properly, etc. How, exactly does it all work? Do I call and set an appointment? Send out an Outlook reminder? (that was a joke) Do I leave El Guille alone at someone's house? Or do I need to stay and chat while the kids are hitting each other over the head with Tonka trucks? When should I have kids over to reciprocate? How long is a play date? These are all questions that I think you, the inter-web, can answer.


Britney Spears said...

I have employed 2 rules:
1) An assistant is really cool because he/she does all of that stuff for me.
2) I had babies really close together so its like they are there own playdate.

La Yen said...

Just bring the kid over to ~J's. Let the girls beat on him for a while. You eat Lorna Doones with El Prego and VOI-LAH-DI-DAH...Play date.

This is me said...

My main play date rule is this: if your kid has a goopy eye, runny nose, and horrible, barking cough - CANCEL THE PLAYDATE! And, don't ask the other mom to go pick up your older kid from kindergarten b/c you won't be back in time to do it yourself.
Other than that, anything goes.

And, yes, that happened to me once.

cabesh said...

Do your first playdate with a mom you're totally comfortable with so that you can ask her all those things. Each mom is different, so just see what she's okay with.

I usually stay and chat with the mom so that I can see how my kid is interacting, and so that I'm not asking for free babysitting--nothing bugs me more than someone who calls and asks if her kid can come play, and then she goes home to chill or out to run errands (if she has a doctor's appointment that's fine), at least at the age my kids are right now because they still need a fair amount of supervision.

Sarah said...

I've talked to some moms who wouldn't DARE leave their kids alone with another mom thinking it's just rude rude rude. However, I have also found moms that are very interested in getting a few hours a week off so we just swap one or two hours a week and do whatever we want during playdates. Late time Penny had a playdate I went to Jamba Juice and read for two hours.

Just find the moms that are like you and do whatever you want! I know that for me though, I need the break every few days. I have a feeling other moms do too but don't want to admit it.

Azúcar said...

Here's the other wrench I haven't mentioned...most of the time it won't be ME that's doing the play dates. I work all day, so it will probably be my spouse that shows up with the kid. Do your answers change? Do you want the DAD hanging around chatting?

Bek said...

For me it totally depends on the mom. I have a few moms that I LOVE to hang out with so a "playdate" means making the kids go to another room while we eat Baja Fresh and chat. Other moms I don't know as well and they feel like more work. :-) So I really don't mind the "drop the kid off" play date because I can actually feel like it is a bit of a break for me too. But, it is hard to talk w/ two year is hard to have a if it is a mom I don't well, it can be a hard way to get to know someone.

When the kids are older...having a friend over is much less work. Right now, if Lu has a friend over after school she will disappear for hours and I can basically have an afternoon off. W/ is lots of a playdate is MORE work. Just find a mom you like and go for it.

I know that here, outside the Mormon crowd, playdates always mean the mom stays and visits. :-)

BowlerGirl said...

No children yet = no good advise to give besides, good luck!

Phoebe said...

I say be up front. Ask if they want to have a playdate and then say, "Do you want to hangout with myhusband for a couple of hours or do you want to do a trade?" Which they might not unless it is at a park or other public venue. (You know the whole avoiding appearances.)
I think that basically everyone has their own preferences, so there aren't really any hard and fast rules.
Good luck!

~j. said...

I would like to see you ask J if he's interested in 'chatting' with another mom whilst the children play together, or if he'd rather, I don't know, NOT.

Azúcar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Azúcar said...

No, he wouldn't, see, that's where it's complicated with Play Dates.

It would most likely be Joe at home if we were to reciprocate weekdays during the day. I know that some moms wouldn't even feel comfortable leaving their kids with a guy (even if he is the most fun dad ever.)

I don't want to feel like we're just dropping my kid off for free sitting. I think detailed trade negotiations, as Phoebe suggested, are in order.

Emily said...

I can think of nothing worse than someone else's husband bringing his child over for a playdate and staying to chat. Seriously, don't subject any husband or friend to such an event. But then, I don't tend to appreciate even my friends staying to chat when our kids get together. Go do something! Let me have time to do stuff at my house! Don't pressure me to have to feed you lunch! (Maybe that's just me--I prefer shopping and exercising alone, so I know not everyone is the same.) Love, love, love the idea of trading babysitting for legitimate times of need. For a MAX of three hours at a time. One or rwo is better. If your husband isn't willing or wanted for reciprocal babysitting, then I think you should organize a ward or neighborhood recurring playdate at a local park. Then it won't be awkward that your child's parent is a guy.
Now, please elaborate about the emergence of the middle class.

fijiangirl said...

We have a weekly playdate at parks that we scheduled in our ward... who ever wants to come is invited. We go to a different park each week and have a printed out schedule. If you have time to go then you can and it is no big deal if you miss a week. Usually when we have playdates at our home we specify if it will be a playdate where the parent will stay or if the mom or dad just needs a babysitter. With some of my son's friends I perfer if their mom stays because I don't want to deal with their kid. Other times it is nice to trade off babysitting so you can have a break and your child can practice those manners you have been teaching him!

mom of many said...

Depending on who you choose for the play date...maybe "dad" wont mind hanging out for a while. Also---maybe there is too much worry with all of this...seems you would only be sending your precious ones to people you were VERY comfortable with...just ask them. I think they call it - communicating.

tiff-fay-fay said...

Good grief Azu -- just bring him over ... I know Ava is a boss, but she's quite entertaining for other little kids.

And Joe can either hang out with Matt (since he doesn't go to work until 1pm) or with me if it's on the weekend. Although my conversation tends to be more along the lines of 'Heh did you see that random story in the national enquirer...' Not really his cup of tea.

Don't ask me about the playdate thing though because I think I've only ever done it with good friends, and I'm probably "that mom" who is totally clueless :)