If you thought the days of uncertain or awkward dates were well and truly behind you, think again. Having a baby means beginning a whole new chapter in your dating life – the playdate. Playdates are when a group of parents get together at someone’s house and bring their kids along to hang, making a great opportunity for both adults and children to get to know each other. However, just like most things in the world of social interaction, there are a few faux pas that you should avoid on your next playdate.
Always Bring Some Snacks
When someone is gracious enough to offer up their house as a playground for a bunch of kids or babies, the least you can do is bring along some food. Don’t just bring snacks for your little one either; there should be enough for everyone to share. Avoid any potential allergens like nuts or dairy unless you have confirmation that it’s okay to bring these. You don’t have to go all out and be Betty Crocker in the kitchen, but a simple fruit plate is always a welcome gesture.
Be Courteous of Time
One of the biggest social blunders we can make (and not only on playdates) is to be disrespectful of other people’s time. When a playdate is organised and a time is set, you should make sure you arrive right on schedule. If you know that you’re going to be late, all it takes is a quick text message and simple apology to let them know. An unspoken rule applies to playdates with a time limit of two hours, so if you’ve been here any longer than that you’ve probably overstayed your welcome.
Keep Sick Kids At Home
This should go without saying but sadly it’s quite a common occurrence. According to the experts, kids and babies can get up to ten colds a year (even more if they’re at daycare) and that’s not counting the various instances of gastro or hand, foot and mouth they pick up. If you suspect your child is sick, it’s best to leave them at home and send your apologies instead. The same goes if any of your older children at home are sick as well because it could be that your little one is contagious but just isn’t showing symptoms yet.
Follow Their Rules
When you enter someone else’s house, you have to stick to their rules. This goes for mums and kids both. Try to follow the lead of the parents hosting the playdate and let them show you what their house rules are. They’ll be able to direct kids where to play or what to eat on and what’s acceptable to do inside the house. As long as nobody is getting hurt or neglected, you should try and be respectful of what the hosts are asking of the children while in their home.
Help to Tidy Up the Mess
Anyone with a child knows that they have the power to turn a spotless house into a rubbish tip in about 0.03 seconds. So imagine getting two or more of them together at the same time. When the playdate is all over, and you’re getting ready to leave, make an effort to start packing up and tidying the house. Don’t leave them with the mess that your child helped create. Ask the host mum or dad if there’s anything you can do to clean up before you jet off. Even if they assure you there’s nothing you can do, making the offer shows respect and good manners.
Take Turns As Host
Think back to all the playdates you and your child have attended and the various homes you’ve visited. If it seems that you’ve spent more time at other people’s homes than your own, it’s probably your turn to put on the hosting cap. Whether you have a group of mums who regularly get together or it’s just you and another parent, you need to take turns playing host and offering up your home for everyone to enjoy. When it is your turn, be sure to have your house relatively clean and safe for children to play, and hope that the other mums follow the rules as well.
Playdates can be a daunting experience if you’ve never been to one before and some people might be in constant fear of a social slip up. However, as long as you’re courteous and respectful of the home that you’re entering, there’s no reason to be afraid. Playdates offer a great opportunity for both parents and kids to socialise and hang with someone their own age, and they can be a lot of fun.
For more advice on parenting and navigating the social minefield that comes with it, we invite you to explore our other posts here at peachymama.com.au.