On Playdates.

“I have a problem,” I said on the phone to a friend the other day and then giggled at the silliness of it. She nervously giggled back, “What?”

“I, umm, don’t really like playdates.”

And she sighed and agreed and we went on for 10 minutes about the craziness that is “playdates”.

This was on the heels of me leaving the most awkward, embarrassing voicemail of my life for a mom who had simply called to plan a playdate for her son and H. She’d left the message the day prior inviting H to play, unfortunately I didn’t listen to the message until the next morning so missed the chance but then this left me with the whole “now I have to call back” dilemma.

This is where I admit I have gotten lazy. We used to have Caller ID and recently cancelled it for a few different reasons. There is a significant cost savings but also I found myself letting calls roll to voicemail with the intention that I would call back and then procrastinating having to call back or even worse, dreading even listening to the voicemail.

At one point a neighbor texted me and let me know that our voicemail was currently full. Do you have any idea how long it takes to listen to 22 voicemails? Talk about a time waster.

So now that we don’t have Caller ID I have to answer the phone when I’m home and I also have to check the voicemail on a regular basis. Meaning then I actually have to call people back.

{And as I re-read what I just wrote I know that I am coming across like a crazy and lazy person.}

So long story short as I’m calling this mom back praying she doesn’t answer I realized that I have a problem.

And then her voicemail picks up and I leave a message that goes something like this:

Hi, this is H’s mom calling back about getting the boys together. I’m so sorry for missing your call yesterday, is there another time you’d like to plan something? Umm. Today won’t work. And Tuesdays and Thursdays I pick my daughter up from school at 3:30 so that probably won’t work. And umm, Wednesdays H goes to piano after school and then we have Awana. So umm no rush to get back to me but yeah, let me know.

So upon hanging up the phone I had a lightbulb moment and realization. I realized it’s just that I don’t like playdates.

I like our routines, our schedule, our time. After school we have a snack and do homework and T & M hang out with friends and H usually plays with the neighbor boys and sometimes E will play with the neighbor girls and when it’s nice out we walk to the park or they ride their bikes. On a day where we’re feeling stir crazy, maybe I’ll call a friend and ask to meet at playland or want to meet at XYZ? This works for me. And most of all, it’s easy.

A playdate means not only do I have to coordinate something with someone I do not know but then I need to actually get to know them since either their child will be hanging out with me or vice versa. I’m not crazy about just dropping my 4 or 6 year old off at someone’s house I don’t know and most other parents aren’t either so then there’s this awkward dance of conversation and coordination. Sometimes there’s a connection and sometimes there’s just not. 

Now this is where I acknowledge that without playdates I wouldn’t have several relationships in my life. One example {of many} before M went to preschool many years ago I set up a playdate with her to get her acclimated to going to preschool and in turn J and I became great friends with her preschool friend’s parents. They’ve never had a class together since but we’re  {the parents} still friends. Without those playdates all those years ago this simply wouldn’t have happened.

As a kid I don’t think I had playdates. {Did you?} We played with our neighborhood friends and as we got older we’d come home from school with little scratch pieces of paper with a phone number on it and we’d call and invite our friend over or our friend would invite us over. End of story.

I think the biggest differences between then and now are 1. kids did a lot of the arranging and 2. there was a plan. Pet Peeve: Vaguely saying “we should have a playdate”. What does this even mean?!? Word to the Wise: Make a plan and invite someone to join in on your plan. IE: “We’re going to open gym on Friday and wondering if you want to join us?” Or “Can I bring Jenny along with us when we go to the Children’s Museum on Thursday?”

Though I’ve been doing the “playdate” thing for almost 9 years now, I’ve never been the biggest fan even when T and M were younger. I used to chalk it up as a stepmom thing, having to explain over and over and over again that I’m the stepmom, which sometimes led to more awkward conversation and I’ve never been so good at that. But now even with H and E, I find myself even less inclined to plan playdates.

Before you start feeling bad for my kids {which you really shouldn’t} let me explain that haven’t gone without, they have friends and get lots of playtime. However I have grown to really appreciate downtime and unstructured time. When H was little-r, I was super excited for him to be in everything. ECFE, toddler soccer {what a waste of money}, swim lessons, playgroup, music classes. You name it, we did it. Now I find, especially since he is in school ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, that I appreciate unscheduled time. I appreciate the ability to be able to decide at the last minute to send him and E sledding with a neighbor friend or to decide on a whim to meet a friend at the park or something. Also? we have four kids and another on the way. Our life is full. And after school time and weekends is kind of precious and won’t last forever.

So what do you say? Am I just getting old? lazy? tired? play-dated out?

Do you like playdates?

Comments

  1. I 100% agree with everything! I have struggled because my 4 year old NEEDS the experience of a playdate with someone other then a family friend or neighbor but I DREAD calling a stranger(who’s kid is in his preschool class) and small talking about school, the weather or what ever happens to be going on that day, then trying to arrange a time to pick the kids up and drop the kid off on a day that work for both our schedules. It just seems like SO much work! I agree, I sounds lazy but we also did SO MUCH fun stuff when the kids were younger I have grown to love our relaxing afternoons of neighborhood friends and family times.

  2. I’m really only interested in play dates if I’m already a good friend with the mom. Otherwise, as you said, it could just be awkward and a hassle. Also, I’m lazy and I never check voicemail on our home phone. All my friends know they better text me or call my cell if they want to actually connect with me. :)

  3. I feel like schools should help with this. At my old school, we had a meet and greet night for the 6th grade with the goal of having parents connect with each other (since the kids come from multiple schools) as well as their teachers. It’s how we got them to sign up for committees, but mostly it was like an ice cream social for the kids and parents. It was a great way for people to socialize before the school year began.

  4. As a nanny I also struggle with playdates. Not sure how I’ll be with my own kids…
    I don’t like playdates for so many reasons, but mainly because I am limited with nappers in the morning and afternoon so I have to be at their house for them to do so. I also hate (strong word, but it’s true) the awkwardness and “let’s have a playdate this week” I always want to say, “Ok?”
    I do enjoy playdates with friends and their kids and I’m willing to get to know people through programs/groups…but if we don’t click I probably won’t encourage a playdate.
    I know there will be much less to worry about with my own kids…I’ll be the parent and I know the day’s schedule, but I certainly do not plan on playdates with random people and I dread having the conversation that you had to have. I will be the exact same way, no doubt about it!

  5. Ugh! I’m SO glad to know I’m not alone! I thought I was the only one! I just hate having to schedule things in advance. I’m more of a last minute person and like freedom of choosing what to do on what day.

  6. Not really. I never liked the term playdate, since when did going to a friend’s house become all formal and stuff? I don’t like coordinating with parents either, I’m a very awkward person. I feel bad, but I don’t like having kids over if I’m not already good friends with the parents because we have a sort of strange living situation and I’m not comfortable with stranger parents – I don’t want to feel like I need to invite the parents in my home when they drop off or pick up their kid. My kids’ cousins live next door and they play together every single day. Simple. No worries. No coordination needed. No wondering whether the other parents are letting our kids fend for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I do like when my kids go play with their friends, but I just don’t need it to be every week.