By: Sarah Koontz
Webster defines a play-date as “a play session for small children arranged in advance by their parents.” Although this definition is not wrong, I think that Mr. Webster should add this alternate definition to his dictionary:
Play-Date: When a mom is so desperate for a break, she invites another mom (and her 1-4 very young children) over to play, hoping that the children will entertain themselves long enough for her to make a deep and meaningful connection with the other mom.
Over the past 7 years, I have become proficient in the art of “Play-Dating” with other moms. I’d like to share some of the lessons I have learned so far.
First of all, don’t be afraid to initiate! If you are a bit leery of diving headfirst into the play-dating world, start with a group-date. Get involved with a local mothers group, or find a few people who have kids around the same age as yours and make a plan to meet up with them at a park or other fun location.
When you are ready to take things to the next level, here are some steps for achieving the perfect play-date:
Image Source: Dollar Photo Club
1. Scheduling a Play-Date. When it comes to scheduling time with another mom, be prepared for unexpected obstacles. Conflicting nap schedules, older kid’s school schedules, unanticipated illness, non-working vehicles, and bad weather are just a few reasons I have had to cancel/reschedule play dates.
Play-Dating Tip # 1: You must be persistent, friendship is worth the effort!
2. Preparing for a Play-Date. If you are hosting, I would encourage you to resist the urge to clean your house from top to bottom before the play-date. First of all, you will be exhausted by the time your new friend shows up, and secondly you will not handle it well when her kids destroy your house within the first 5 minutes of arrival. Over time, you might discover that you don’t enjoy hosting play-dates in your home, and opt for neutral territory in the future.
Play-Dating Tip # 2: There are no hard and fast rules in the world of play-dating, find what works best for you!
3. Connecting during a Play-Date. There will be lots of noise to contend with, so speak up! Also, don’t be surprised if you have to repeat yourself….a lot. One of the children will probably hurt themselves, break something, or feed the fish (the whole bottle of fish food), so try to remain calm and put out fires as necessary. Don’t be offended if you have to repeat a story two or three times because of all the distractions.
Image Source: Dollar Photo Club
Play-Dating Tip #3: Expect the Unexpected!
4. Ending a Play-Date. All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, the more fun your kids had while you were chatting, the bigger the mess. It is important that both moms are willing to “split the check” when it comes to clean up time. Make sure that the children help, and don’t be afraid to make a game out of it. My favorite is turning it into a race by playing some music and seeing how much we can get done before the song finishes.
Play-Dating Tip # 4: Involve the children in the clean up process!
5. Recovering from a Play-Date. Your house will be disheveled, your kids will be as worn out as you are, and you will likely need to phone your new mom friend during naptime to have a real conversation with her. If you find yourself wondering if it was worth the effort, I can promise you that it was!
Play-Dating Tip #5: There is no shame in scheduling your second “play-date” without the kids.
Are you feeling disconnected or lonely? Looking for a break from the normal routine? Find another mom, and invite her over for a play-date…..I can assure you that mothering is so much more fun when you have a friend to share your ups and downs with!
Do you have any play-dating tips of your own to share with us?
Main Image Source: Dollar Photo Club. We just love the Dollar Photo Club, beautiful images for just $1 a piece. You can’t beat that!