Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Etiquette for playdates--some questions

It says something about our changing times that this post even exists. Back in the day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, kids could just wander around their neighborhoods and find other kids. It was not unusual to just show up at a friend's house to play without any phone calls or pre-arrangement being done by parents. Summer days were spent wearing bathing suits traveling from one house with a pool another as beverages (and parental patience) were exhausted, all with the call, "Be home when the streetlights come on." The next time my mom sits down for coffee with one of my friends' moms in the kitchen while we play Barbies will be the first, and I'm 36.
But now, it must be done. Since this is kind of a new thing for me, I'm not sure how to go about this. It's rough, you know? Finding kids isn't as easy as it once was. Finding kids you like is harder still. Finding kids you like that get along with your own is beyond tough. I don't want my kids to miss out on friends because I forgot to bring a snack, you know?
So, here I go in no particular order.

Who arranges it? Mom to mom, or do the kids call each other? How old is a child before circumstances transition from all parental arrangement to kids? Does anyone just show up asking "Can Susie come out to play?" without calling anymore? What if you have someone over and they never invite you, or vice versa?
Where do they take place? Does it alternate? Does it depend? I mean, if one is allergic to dogs and the other has one, it's obvious. Same goes for apartment living versus 2100 square feet and a backyard... mostly. Are they initially at some common ground like a park? What if the kids--or parents--are just getting to know each other?
Does Mom have to stick around? What about siblings coming along? If your oldest is close in age to their youngest, what do you do? How many visits transpire before a child can be dropped off, and does that count as babysitting? Should the visiting child bring snacks to share or is any feeding up to the host?
How long is a typical visit? If it's a 15-minute ride over, an hour is barely time to turn around especially in the winter when you're talking boots and coats and all. But three seems a bit much and probably would include a meal, which presumes some warning for the meal preparer. I wouldn't want to send a kid home to eat, or put off our meal, when Mom is thinking it was a lunch date.
How do you other moms find friends for your kids? Like I said, it's hard. Don't tell me it's the fault of homeschooling, either. Just because the pool is bigger doesn't mean the water's any better.

Comments are open. Thank you!

4 Comments:

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Shelly said...

Here is what we do. It just evolved this way so take it or leave it. I imagine it is different for every family. :-)

Our oldest met kids around the block and they came over whenever they wanted...and still do. They knock, we answer and let them know if they can come in or not. They stay until we kick them out! LOL

For our second son, he's a loner. He will call a friend here or there. He will go over to a friends house now and then or they will come over here.

Our Vinnie would invite everyone off the street to come over if they will play video games with him. If they don't play games it better be summer or he's not going to be a good host. LOL It's outside with bugs and climbing trees in the summer and gaming in the winter.

1. I have to KNOW the parents (both!) before any of my children can stay alone at their home. Kazz can go over for an hour or so during the day if I've only just been introduced to a parent, but that just happened and he's nearly 16! The rule before that was, and is for the other kids, they cannot go indoors to a friends home if I don't "know" them.

2. The kids can call. I never call. Have never, that I can remember unless I happen to be on the phone and they ask while I'm talking...or if I look outside and see you guys out and about! LOL

3. Many times during park days or outings kids will ask to go over to so and so's home. The answer is always "they can come to our house." if we aren't doing other things that evening. If I know the parents well they can go over to the kids house. That's rare! LOL

4. Two to Three hours is a good playdate for kids under 8 years old. The older they get, the longer they stay. 8:30pm to 9:30pm we kick them out or they stay all night.

Do I sound untrusting? I am, very. Call me cynical but I know people personally who were molested at so and so's "good" home. It happens way too often.

Sorry to sound crazy but there's a story there. Maybe I'll blog about it someday.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Catherine said...

I like Shelly's plan.

So far this hasn't been much of an issue. My sister, who lives only 20 minutes away, has children my childrens' ages, and I think they see me as often in a week as they see her. I've wondered how I'm going to do this, as there are no young children around our neighborhood. I suspect that next year will be the year we figure something out besides going to see "the cousins."

Our parish has started an organized playgroup. That will probably be where we start.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Kasia said...

Don't have kids yet, but echoing from Catherine, I know St. Anastasia has a homeschool social group that in many ways functions like an organized playgroup/gym/moms' network. I'll suggest my friend Jill pop over and offer any thoughts she has, as she's involved with that...

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger HISchild said...

I'm with Shelly. It is definitely a kid driven thing.

As far as letting them stay at a friends house, I have to meet the parents and have spent some time with them.

The last "new" friend that didn't have an older sibling (i.e. friend of one of my others) was met at the pool. I got to talk with her mom while the kids swam.

As far as liking some of the kids my children pick to be friends with, I don't. There are things that they do that I can't stand! However, I will not be able to pick their friends later and this is a point of conversation when that friend does something that mine don't like.

That being said, safety is a totally different issue. If I feel that my children are in danger, the relationship is done.

The first couple playdates will be kind of awkward. Eventually you will fall into a routine of what is expected with the other parents you deal with on a regular basis. Every kid is different and so are each set of parents. It all works out in the wash.

 

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