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SOCIETY: Playdate Pressures

Does the thought of coordinating a playdate for your kid cause you stress?

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“How about we plan a playdate for the kids?”

These words – stated often – have me quaking in my boots.

The topic of play dates, get-togethers, or whatever you want to call them is one that all parents must deal with once their kids become of age. Actually, the average age for play dates seems to be rapidly decreasing in my estimation, but that is a whole other story.

Apparently it is de rigeur to set up a mutually agreeable time for your child and his or her friend to rendezvous at each others homes. While this may be well and good for many, it often doesn’t work for me.

Kids playing outside
Call me Ebenezer but I just can’t pull it together, being the mom to 5,000 kids and all. Trying to remember where I left the third basket of laundry that I pulled from the dryer earlier in the day is a more pressing issue and likely top of mind for me, less so than trying to figure out a schedule where I would actually have to coordinate dates and times with another parent. Scheduling is not really my forte.

I can barely figure out where my own kids are at any given point in time, let alone trying to add another one or two to the mix. Inviting additional small children into the chaos that is “home” is one activity that just adds to my anxiety.

The pressure to coordinate play dates with other kids has left a gaping hole in my self-perception as a “good mother.”

Increasingly, the pressure to coordinate play dates with other kids has left a gaping hole in my self-perception as a “good mother.” Other parents just seem to have a knack for coordination and scheduling, something that I’m clearly lacking. Fact of the matter is, I’m busy, most of the time, and invariably the request will come in for a play date, making me realize that I should have made the first move a long time ago. Check, mate. This is the third request from the same parent and my daughter has been over there twice in the past three months. It’s my turn, except I didn’t follow the unwritten rule (and schedule) that dictates that I should have extended the courtesy in keeping with etiquette. Mommy fail once again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. I love playing with kids. I love that my kids have friends and nice ones to boot. I just can’t seem to get it together to follow the proscribed play date etiquette docket. There are whispers in the playground and schoolyard about such ineptitude, I’m sure.

Paranoia has set in. 

To step back somewhat, there is a larger issue at play here (no pun intended). When I was on maternity leave, I had a much better relationship with my daughter’s friends’ parents, just because I would see them more often. It was easier to plan a mutually-agreeable date with other parents for a get-together for our kids when running into them at the school.

Since I went back to work, not so much. Yet the relationship-building and the making of friends by my daughter continued, regardless of whether or not I was there to meet the new friend’s mother or father in the playground during school drop-offs or pick-ups or not. The emails, notes in knapsacks and voice mail messages then commenced, requesting my daughter’s presence in the homes of those with whom I was not familiar. What was a parent to do?

It’s been a work in progress and in truth, my bad for not getting on the play date coordination train, but I guess I missed the memo. Life is busy and I’m not sure when the craziness will subside. To that end, can I get a rain check? If not, then some advice on how to navigate this Brave New World?

Next up? Birthday parties.

VIDEO: How To Deal With Playdates

How do you manage the endless play date requests and commitments for your kids?

Are you good at scheduling and reciprocating get-togethers with your kid’s friends? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

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