I have a few golden rules that I abide by when it comes to playdates. They include a few dos and a lot of don’ts.
So in no particular order, I present to you my playdate rule cheat sheet. What would you add?
1. Don’t clean up for me
This one is for the mums.
If you don’t clean up for me, I won’t clean up for you, and then we can both live happily ever after and not be so stressy over the messy. OK?
2. Don’t bring food
Unless your kid has an allergy or is really fussy, there’s no need to bring him snacks or lunch.
MORE Play and Activities
How about I’ll just feed him when he’s with me and then when my kid has a turn playing at your house I won’t feel obliged to send him over with a lunch box?
Oh, and don’t bring a tea cake or homemade muffins (unless you REALLY want to) for the mummies. I don’t expect it and you don’t have time for it. A cup of tea with you will be just lovely.
3. Do watch the kids in the pool
I’m sorry, but if it is a swimming playdate in your backyard pool, I am probably going to hang around. Even though I need to go to the shops and you have offered to let me ‘drop and go’.
If your kids swim all the time with you just supervising from the deck, I want to be poolside, in case, I dunno, they drown!
4. Do let them play
Let’s not be all in the kids’ faces about sharing and talk FOR them, instead of letting them chat to each other.
Playdates are helping them to learn social skills, so let’s let this evolve for them and try not to interfere, unless a little someone really needs us to.
5. Do keep to time (if you can)
I am always late, and I think there’s a 10 minute grace period between mums to do with this. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as getting out the door on time! But if it’s a new friend and a mum I am getting to know, then I try to be on time and not overstay our welcome.
My general rule is to leave before a meal time. So for a morning play, we go home for lunch, or earlier if little ones need a nap.
6. Don’t ignore a text
If another mum texts me to hook up a playdate, I don’t ignore it. If I can’t do it that week, I will still respond.
Even though I am not a planner, I know others are and they are trying to organise their week. Also, it’s just polite to reply!
7. Don’t just feed ’em crap
I am not a health freak, but I do like balance. While I let the kids go to town on a packet of Tiny Teddies, there’s always some cut-up fruit as well to ease my guilt.
8. Don’t turn the telly on
Playdates are for, you know, play. So the telly stays off in our house. I know this isn’t everyone’s rule, but it is for me.
9. Do tell the kids the house rules
If your rule is that ice blocks need to be eaten outside, or that the couch isn’t for jumping on, simply tell the kids.
And gently remind them if needed.
10. Do offer reciprocal playdates
If you’ve kindly had us over for a playdate, I will invite your little cherub over to our house next. That’s just taking turns!
11. Don’t drop and go if they aren’t OK
I am happy for you to drop and go and pick up that prescription from the chemist, but only if your little one is happy for you to do so. If she’s comfortable with me and you feel she’s old enough, then all good. I’ll see you in an hour or so. But if not, then please stay and have a cuppa with me.