Friday, February 7, 2014

Am I Doing Playdates All Wrong?


I've never been a fan of the word. It just sounds so...cutesy.

My kids have had a lot of playdates over the years. These days they can go over to friends houses and I no longer have to join them. Natalie has several kids who come over here to play. On other days, she goes to their homes. I always assumed because the kids were older, that they were capable of entertaining themselves. I send everyone to Natalie's room when they come over.

Then Natalie started telling me all the things she does when she goes over to her friends houses:

"When I go see my friend, her Mommy does Science experiments with us."

"We're allowed to play dress up in her Mommy's closet and dance in her Mommy and Daddy's room. Their door isn't shut like your room always is."

"We had organic cookies and juice, because organic is better I guess."

"Her Mommy had a picnic with us. We didn't watch TV at all because my friend hadn't earned enough tickets to watch."

"We learned about constellations. Her Mommy showed us a book and we all drew pictures of our favorite. I like the Big Dipper!"

I was like,

Am I doing playdates all wrong?!

I didn't know I was meant to STAY with the kids! This is what happens when children come to our house: I send them upstairs to Natalie's room where a television AND a Wii live. I remind them to stay out of my room. Not because I'm worried they'll break anything, but because it's generally littered with dirty clothes and cat hair. If they try to come downstairs and sit on the couch, I remind them that the toys live in Natalie's room. If they say they are hungry, I usually hand over the following:


--Fruit Roll Ups

--Little Debbie snacks

None of which are organic.

I'm surprised anyone allows their kids to come over. I wonder what their child says?

"Oh, I went to Natalie's house. We had to stay in her room. But it was okay because Natalie has a TV and a Wii and she doesn't need to earn tickets to play them. Natalie's Mommy is either cleaning, reading, or on her computer. She hands us food that is not organic and tells us to go upstairs. We can't go in her room. Natalie and I usually play Disney Infinity the entire time. Is it violent when Natalie makes her Rapunzel character throw frying pans at mine?"

Look, I'm not crafty so I'm not about to sit around a table with kids and create something. Natalie has returned home with the following before:

--a princess crown

--a frame

--a painted leaf

I'm an Only Child and I never babysat, so I'm never sure what to say to other people's children. Hell, I sometimes don't even know what to say to MY OWN children. I'll stare blankly at them, wondering what comes after, "How was your day?"

I can't do picnics, because then I worry I won't be able to get back up. And also, if I prepared picnic food it would either come from KFC or I'd make sandwiches with white bread and non-organic meat and cheese. I'd serve regular juice.

I wouldn't want a strange child pulling my clothes on. What if she doesn't wipe properly after using the bathroom and her urine is now all over my dress?

I'm glad Natalie has friends over because it means she's entertained. When her friends are not over, she constantly wants me to play with her. Barbies, princess, dress ups, Disney Infinity, Memory, cooking shows...the list never ends. I'll just never be the fun parent. I'll never be the one that other kids squeal over. "Yay, Natalie's Mom! Today she's teaching us how to make something with quinoa!" (I would NEVER. Quinoa scares me.)

It's okay though. Everyone is different.

Maybe one day when Natalie has a friend over we can make something in her Easy Bake oven.



  1. I don't usually comment, but actually the kids who come over to play with Natalie probably love that you don't feed them organic treats and they get to watch TV and play with the Wii. That's what play dates are about...getting to do something fun that you wouldn't get to do at your own home.

    When I was growing up my mom threw us all out of the house and said "go play" and didn't bother to know what mischief we got into just as long as we came home when she called for dinner. Parents are too uptight anymore nowadays.


  2. My kids can have friends over only if they stay upstairs and away from me. I'm so bad with other people's kids. They play Minecraft and watch Youtube videos and I hand out Capri Suns and Doritos. I'm pretty sure the Doritos are free range, though.

  3. I always thought the whole point in a playdate was so the kids could entertain each other - without me having to do it!!!
    The last time my youngest son had a friend over to spend the night I only saw them once in about 12 hours - perfect!!! And because we aren't huge snackers I don't even think about offering food - if they come in and ask for a snack I pretty much let them have whatever they want.

  4. I am cracking up.
    I will never be the fun parent. Even when people watch my kids for me, I'll say, "They're pretty self-reliant. Read or something." And I'll come home and Des has created a hand-painted masterpiece and his hands have been clean. And Scarlet has just recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Or something.
    I'm having a playdate today. They will get Annie's Organic Bunnies, but only because Cassidy won't buy Goldfish because he heard they have MSG.

  5. You're letting them be kids and forge a friendship on their own without a parent helicoptering. You get 10 thumbs up in my book!

  6. "Mommy, I had the BEST time at Natalie's house!! We got to watch a lot of movies, we could play on the Wii for as long as we wanted. Natalie's Mommy was SO nice, she gave us something to eat when ever we asked. We didn't have to wait for a long time or anything like that. Natalie's Mommy did not stay with us every minute of the playdate. We got to share SECRETS and do SECRET things and I LOVED IT!!! I can't wait to go back there!!!"

    That's what they probably say. They were probably RELIEVED to be out from under militant structure. They're already doing all that at school, they need a break from school, c'mon. Its good to be all educational and everything but c'mon. When are they supposed to get a break?

  7. When I was growing up, my mom always sent us upstairs for playdates! And she served cookies, brownies, etc. My girls are still too little to get dropped off, but once we're at that stage, there is no way I'll be spending all this time trying to entertain them. Like you said, that's why you have playdates, so they'll leave you alone for a bit! Haha. I think you're doing it totally right:)

  8. I thought the whole point of kid's having friends over was so they can entertain each other. I don't understand parents that have to always give structure play time.

    When I was a kid, my mom was constantly telling me to get out of the house and go find some friends to play with. We were always just going from one person's house to the next.

    I'll be exactly like you Amber. Here's some gushers, now go away.

  9. Clearly I'm doing it wrong too! We have a ton of kids on our street, and they all pop in and out of our houses. We send them outside to play, or upstairs to the playroom. I think Natalie's playdates sound like too much work. I'd never want anyone over, lol.

  10. I don't know where Natalie is finding friends, but I and my kids parents were more like me.. I have never liked having kids over.
    Now they are older, my kids friends like me. I'm a cool mom.. not sure why, but I'll take it.
    Like one of the other commenters, the other kids probably like you aren't hovering over them like their parents and get to eat 'good' stuff.
    PS my room is always shut's a mess

  11. Oh yeah, I've been there.... a long long time ago.

    So. Here's what's really happening. Those other moms are just showing off, and/or covering for a secret life of drunkenness and internet lovers. They know full well that the kids will come home and tell you all the wonderful things that they did at their friends house and you will feel incompetent and worthless, when in reality you are the good mom and she is a drunken whore.

  12. I hate play dates, I usually send them outside or to the playroom to watch a movie. and the only snack they get here is gold fish and water. you are doing the right way, these over the top helicopter parents have it all wrong.

  13. Organic "treats" sound gross to me. I used to get mad when I went to a friend's house as a kid, and her mother would only let us drink water, no juice or soda.

    I imagine if your daughter or her friends thought it was odd, or if they wanted something different to happen, they would have said something or asked you to do something differently. I of course want to know where the kids are at all times, but we adults don't need to be up their butts all the time. They can (and should be able to, at times) entertain themselves.

  14. Wait a second I had high hopes that when my daughter is old enough for unsupervised play dates it would mean an extra boost of "me time". I am not painting leaves probably ever! Stopping by from sits.

  15. When I grew up our house sounds like it was a lot like yours. While we didn't have the tv and wii in our parents let us go on our own and do our own thing.

    Sounds like you're doing great. Besides the kids probably enjoy coming to your house because you let them go and be kids and do their own thing...

  16. My daughter's friends like to come over because I let them paint, play with slime etc. Last week, I brought in snow for them to play with since it was too cold to be out in it. They get to do things here their parents don't allow in their homes. The only time I have had a project was when her and her friend wanted to build gingerbread houses. All I did was help put the house together and they did the rest as I went back to paying bills etc. As for food, some of her friends have food allergies and one I has some sensitivities to certain dyes. So, I do try to have on hand what they can eat.

  17. I don't like playdates. I have too many kids already to be supervising someone else's. I'm always afraid they'll go home and tell their parents how our house is messy and I say bad words. Plus I don't like wearing pants, and apparently if it's not your kid, it's bad to sit around on the laptop without pants on.

  18. This is hilarious! I don't think a play date needs to be a big to-do. Playing with a friend should be enough.

  19. Haha…I thought the reason for playdates is for the friends to entertain each other. No science experiments here! They can play in the playroom and NOT go upstairs, and not because it's messy, but because I don't want THEM to make it messy!

  20. I think you do playdates just fine :)

  21. Hey, I wrote a whole post on organics, etc., and I'm a crafty mom, and I still think you do playdates just fine. The point is to have a different experience than you have at home. And, I CANNOT WAIT until my children are old enough to play with friends in their own room. That sounds utterly delightful!

  22. you and I would get along great!

    I'll make cupcakes (ignore that box with the string, that's how I do it, ahem) and your bring the wine.

    I also have a fenced in backyard complete with sandbox and a lockable patio door. just saying.

  23. I LOVE it when Michael has friends that come over because like you I get SICK AND TIRED of always being the main entertainment around here. And that's always when he asks for special treats that I only say yes to when he has a friend over. lol He works it good. I am a little curious on this ticket system though...

  24. that's why I hate having play dates! I hate having to entertain other people's kids. and break up fights. and feed them. argh!

  25. This is so me!

    I'm like "Here's a juice box, the playroom is over there. Don't hurt each other!".

  26. Uh...what kind of friends does your daughter have?!?!? lol. My playdates consist of just letting this kids go loose in the playroom. I didn't know that I had to be an active participant?!?!

  27. I even like when I have toddlers come over because then I sit on my computer and let them do whatever they do haha. 2 year olds can't get in much trouble right?

  28. You know what I think - I think kids need variety. I love that you have your own routine and way of doing things. When I was growing up, my mother had a really clean house, generally didn't allow friends inside, and never let me have friends over for dinner. My girlfriend, however, was fro a crazed family of ten. When we went over there, we ran through a clothes-hamper-like home, covered in kids, dogs, and random cats, ate those Aldi brand cinnamon rolls, and occasionally stuck our hands in a huge vat of spaghetti and chowed down. It was awesome. I loved visiting her place and she loved coming to mine. It was a welcome break from the norm. That being said, we were always happy to go back home again because regardless of how cool someone else's house is, home is home. You sound like an awesome mom. Be you!

  29. Your house sound FUN! I wanna come over for a playdate. Fuck that organic shit! ;)

  30. We don't often have play dates here. My biggest problem is that I wouldn't want my kids going over to their friend's houses. Too many of them have "daddy just got out of jail" stories to tell! If we did have play dates, I'd do them like yours!!

  31. I thought playdates were about playing, as long as they're playing and having fun, who cares? They are learning just as much, if not more, from interacting together than from an adult-supervised projects.

  32. AMEN! I'm in a mom's group and get judged because I let my 4 year old have fruit snacks and juice. Way to be a normal mom. Pinterest is the devil and those moms need to stay off. If your child is happy, gold star for you!!

  33. Who in hell is n't scared by quinoa?

  34. I'm an only child too, Amber. Pat yourself on the back as you're actually doing a fantastic job! We all stumble along the best we can, my dear. This made me laugh, not at you, just at the picture, '"I'll stare blankly at them, wondering what comes after, "How was your day?" Head up! :)

  35. Call me crazy but I think playdates should consist of kids PLAYING WITH EACH OTHER. I am not here to entertain them. I will offer a reasonable amount of snacks and drinks--not organic. SOMETIMES I will get stuff out for them to do a project or craft b/c I'm a former per-k teacher and I LOVE messy cry and free play. I don't DO it FOR them or TELL them what to do I just give them the materials and voila. Also if your kid says they are bored at my house I will offer to call their parents to pick them up.

  36. Oh dear goodness. I think I have been doing play dates wrong as well. I usually take the kids to some disease infested ball pit and sip lattes and play on the computer while they fight for their lives on zappy, static-y plastic slides.

  37. Growing up, my friends always loved to come over because my mom stocked the pantry with Gushers and Fruit Roll Ups. Also, my mom would have died if I brought friends into my parents' room, let alone their closet. I'd say your play dates are much more fun :)

  38. Oh my goodness, I like you more and more! Let's have a "play date" which mostly will consist us our kids keeping each other occupied. Seriously, if I have pizza ordered and snacks on the table, then thank my husband b/c I'm just like "is the bathroom toilet cleaned?" Very cool that your kid comes home with cool crafts and had a good time --- isn't that just the point?


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