WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

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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?

llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar

The only date you should be setting is one to give your kids the nourishment and immune support they need through breastfeeding.

LukeDuff


quality posts: 3 Private Messages LukeDuff
llandar wrote:The only date you should be setting is one to give your kids the nourishment and immune support they need through breastfeeding.



^Reported to HR, sorry Randy

Do parents do playdates now because communication technology is so much better? Maybe 1980s parents would have done them if they had the web, email, Facebook, etc.

The main reason to look for playdates in my mind is that it's sometimes hard to organically find other children that are appropriate for you kid to play with, like in the situation where the only other kid on your block is the 10-year-old boy that squishes pigeons with bricks.

BC4L!

Jason Toon


quality posts: 19 Private Messages Jason Toon
LukeDuff wrote:^Reported to HR, sorry Randy

Do parents do playdates now because communication technology is so much better? Maybe 1980s parents would have done them if they had the web, email, Facebook, etc.

The main reason to look for playdates in my mind is that it's sometimes hard to organically find other children that are appropriate for you kid to play with, like in the situation where the only other kid on your block is the 10-year-old boy that squishes pigeons with bricks.



But what do you do when it's that kid's mom asking for the playdate?

That's the problem we have. You can't just say "Sorry, but your kid creeps my kid out." So you have to make other excuses. And some parents don't take a hint. They keep asking. They find out you've had a playdate with some other kid and get pushy about it.

I think the playdate phenomenon is another aspect of how over-organized childhood is these days (casual socialization? what's that?) and parental anxiety about "doing it right". "I can't let my 4-year-old just hang around the house doing nothing - it will stunt her social development!"

Free time, idle time, time when a kid is bored and has to learn to deal with it: I think those things have as much value, maybe more, for a young child than a structured social life. A kid can learn as much just exploring her backyard as she can on some contrived playdate that's really more about the parents' checklist of what a "good" parent is supposed to do.

I'm not against playdates per se, but the fact that they're expected of everyone all the time is a sign of something very wrong in parenting. Loosen up. The kids will be fine with or without playdates.

dussowendy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dussowendy

I think it is smart! the term could be different, but if your friends are not close and no other children you know are close then why not? Children used to benefit from playing with siblings, but with small families of today what would they do? How do they learn of things like not to push bite or take toys away from another child? but I know one thing,my childs play dates would be in my home, yard or at least in my presence. I think that parent is showing love for the toddler and might even benefit by minimizing the approaching of strangers at the elevator. This could help to educate the toddler to avoid stranger danger.

amynance


quality posts: 6 Private Messages amynance

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dussowendy wrote:Children used to benefit from playing with siblings, but with small families of today what would they do?



Oooh. That's another good point. I didn't think of that. I had two older brothers to entertain me.

smurfgirl03


quality posts: 0 Private Messages smurfgirl03

The only "playdate" I have ever really done was with a friend. I have a friend who has a kid about the same age as my kid. We would get together and have the children play while we caught up on each other's lives, or discussed news stories or other things that really bothered us. The kids were more of an excuse. "Oh, Zachary just can't wait to see Jackson again!" which at their age wasn't exactly true (fighting over toys and all that) but it was a great excuse to get together. Now that I live on the other side of the country, we obviously can't have those playdates anymore. I simply don't have them anymore... my son is now almost 6 years old and capable of entertaining himself.. usually with the dog or the cat or his toys. He's not a lonely kid, so I don't feel the need to socialize him. He gets time with other kids at church and other events... and I don't believe him to be stunted in any way. In fact, he spends so much time with adults (and asks so many questions) that he knows a lot for his age. Maybe that's because we're right next to my in-laws and there are 8 able-bodied adults who come and go and spend time with him (and spoil him).

Was there a point to this post? There was when I started. Oh, right. So maybe if the playdate was more about adults with similarly aged children getting to know each other and become friends, sure. But if you're doing it because you think little Susie might be stunted from her lack of meeting other children, there are better ways of doing it. How about enrolling in a class at the Y or gymnastics?

jenemaha


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jenemaha

In my case.. it's because I am a SAHM and so many other families work, it's hard to find other kids/moms around during the day to socialize with. It's as much for my sanity as it is for the kids.

We just got new next door neighbors that are home a couple days a week, and it's amazing the good differences I have seen with my son getting to play in the yard with kids his own age on a regular basis. I don't think anything will beat that. And that's why we seek out opportunities for our kids to have that.

And it's good for the moms to have friends with kids the same age to talk/vent/bounce things off of. It helps so much with all of the pressures of today to find somebody else that is going through the same thing and feels the same way about it. And today's playdates are as much about that as it is finding somebody else for 'johnny' to play with.

amynance


quality posts: 6 Private Messages amynance

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jenemaha wrote:In my case.. it's because I am a SAHM and so many other families work, it's hard to find other kids/moms around during the day to socialize with. It's as much for my sanity as it is for the kids.

We just got new next door neighbors that are home a couple days a week, and it's amazing the good differences I have seen with my son getting to play in the yard with kids his own age on a regular basis. I don't think anything will beat that. And that's why we seek out opportunities for our kids to have that.

And it's good for the moms to have friends with kids the same age to talk/vent/bounce things off of. It helps so much with all of the pressures of today to find somebody else that is going through the same thing and feels the same way about it. And today's playdates are as much about that as it is finding somebody else for 'johnny' to play with.




That's really great insight, especially about it being beneficial for you to find new friends too!

amreli


quality posts: 8 Private Messages amreli

My son (just turned 4) is currently in preschool full-time, so I'm not worried about socializing overall. We've set up a few playdates over the year with kids in his class that he seemed to get along with the best, typically during breaks when he'd otherwise go a relatively long time NOT playing with other kids. He's actually been playing somewhat frequently with a neighbor kid in the evenings which is really nice, but for kids from his school it has to be a "formal" thing because they don't live anywhere near us.


llandar


quality posts: 32 Private Messages llandar
Jason Toon wrote:You can't just say "Sorry, but your kid creeps my kid out."



My dad had a knack for finding the grossest, weirdest, most socially-repugnant children in town and forcing me to befriend them like I was some kind of little white knight.

inkycatz


quality posts: 105 Private Messages inkycatz
llandar wrote:My dad had a knack for finding the grossest, weirdest, most socially-repugnant children in town and forcing me to befriend them like I was some kind of little white knight.



"Character building".

I'm just hanging out, really.

starlight2574


quality posts: 0 Private Messages starlight2574

Playdates are so much more about mom than the kids. It's the "dear god I just spent the entire day singing old macdonald and need adult interaction."

After a while, when the kids are around age 3-4 it does start to be about them enjoying friendships as well. But make no mistake - even then it's about moms maintaining their sanity.