Tot Sauce: Age of the Playdate

by Amy Nance

Photo by Flickr member tiarescott, used under a Creative Commons License.

Last night, another mom in my apartment building posted this note on the community board:

"We have a 17mo old who loves meeting and greeting people and pets in the building, you may have already met him in the courtyard, elevators, or getting the mail. If you have a toddler or baby who likes to get out and move, we'd like to set up a playdate."

I think it's great that our community has a resource that can bring people together like this. But then I got to thinking about the whole "playdate" thing. Is this a recent phenomenon?

When I was a kid, my parents never sought out new friends for me or scheduled playtime. We lived in a cul-de-sac neighborhood, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. So when I was old enough and wanted to play with my friends, I'd just go knock on the neighbor's door and ask if they could come outside. I guess the dynamic isn't the same in an apartment building, so maybe playdates are more of an urban than suburban thing?

Or is it the age we live in now, where a higher percentage of families have two busy working parents and therefore not as much time for casual socialization throughout the week? Since my husband and I both work, my son attends daycare, so he has other kids in his class to play with. But if he didn't, I'm wondering if I, too, would be seeking out playmates for my little guy.

What about you? Do you schedule playdates for your child, or plan to when he/she gets a little older? Or are you more of the "old-fashioned" let-them-make-their-own-friends type?