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Good topic. I am in that situation too. My son has been going to kindergarten for 6 months and has been mentioning various names - but how to get to meet these parents/kids. I have the problem that my german is not fluent and so there will be people who don't speak much English so that is hard for a start. The other thing is that I don't see too many people who are easy to chat with when I go to the kindergarten. When I go to pick him up (usually my husband does so it is fairly new when I do)and wait outside for the doors to open, there are a group of parents waiting as the time comes near. Well, it is the like being in a lift where everyone seems to ignore everyone else. My anxiety levels increase when I'm there so I don't know how I'm going to meet these people. We might have a summer party and invite some of these friends with their parents so we can meet them that way. Maybe that is an idea, you could invite a bunch of people and therefore you won't be stuck with just one person in a room. You could suss out who looks like a good possibility for a playdate and whose parents are cool - not so cool. If you feel a bit anxious you could always have a glass or two of wine cos it is a party after all.


We have a playdate every Thursday here in Zambia. It's in the afternoon, because the kids go to school in the morning. About 5/6 of us get together (sometimes more, sometimes less). It's moms and kids. I think a one on one is quite daunting, because then you just have one person to talk to. The mom who hosts the playdate usually offers the refreshments (tea, coffee, cake, something for the kids).

Then we sit around, talk shit, and the kids play. Usually each kids brings his/her own scooter, and then they zoom around on the driveway, play in the sandpit, climb on the jungle gym. But, we are a nice bunch of ladies, and it is always great to get together. Each person get a chance to host.


My girls (triplets) are also starting to speak of new friends other than themselves. They have one friend that they play with regularly and luckily the mom is cool and LOVES wine. My play dates will have to happen over weekends as I am a full time working mom. I think you must "sus" the mom out when she arrives - have a stock of wine and coffee and juice available, you will quickly get an idea if she is a koek en tee mom or a wine mom.

Tertia, my suggestion would be to meet the mom/child in a neutral place (perhaps an outdoor coffee shop type of place that has a playground or animal park or something). That way, you and the Mom can chat and the kids can play. If you like the Mom and child, you can then invite them home for another play date.

When we first came to SA years ago, 5-6 of us moms used to meet at a local farm. One mom would bring refreshments (non-alcoholic, of course...) for the moms, and each mom would bring something that could be shared amongst the kids.

Funnily enough, my one daughter met one of these other play group girls recently and they were gobsmacked to discover that they'd known each other when they were littlies.

Playdates with moms (or dads) happen before your kids are in kindergarten. What I always did was to make drinks (alcoholic and non..tea works) and a few snacks. I would send the kids off to play in playroom or outside in back garden, and the mom and I would hang round so we could 'help' with the play, but not direct it. Mostly we talked about the other moms. What? You don't think I was gonna take that opportunity to find out everything I could about the other parents in preschool. Get real!

Other topics are: competitive parenting, bad parenting, shopping, sales, cute kids clothing, restaurant nightmares, etc. You keep it light, but it's good to make new friends, especially ones that might help out in a jam.

One piece of advice I was given which is golden. Even supernanny recommends it. It is hard for kids, especially twins, to share their toys. Allow each kid to choose one 'special' toy that they absolutely will not share. Put that toy up on the top shelf of their closet for the playdate, so they know it's safe and won't be handled by other kids. Really... do it. It will make your kids much more willing to have playdates.

One other thing. Because you have twins, you're going to find yourself hosting more playdates at your house than your kids will be invited to. And there is gonna come a time when one child is invited and the other one isn't. Prepare them for that NOW, so you don't have the screaming tantrums later on.

And you start first. Invite a kid they both like over for an hour or two. That's all. Maybe for lunch and a swim or some other activity. Keep it short, give a lot of warnings when it's coming on time to leave, and then leave!

Another parenting conundrum....

This is one of the advantages of twins - you have only had to think about play dates now!

Our kids are the same age and my son has been having play dates for ages.

The parents are the real issue around play dates and one has to make friends with them first.

Some times the parents aren't the type of people that one would necessarily make friends with, but all in the name of developing well socialised off spring!

We are usually quite upfront with the parents. They know that either my partner or I will be around (we work from home) but the kids will be supervised by a care giver.

Moms usually love this as they can drop the kid off and then have some alone time.

Find a parent with a sense of humour and I am sure you will be fine. You can then do a parting glass of wine together when they pick the kids up.

The nursery school our son goes to also supplies a list of the parents cell phone numbers and the teacher can tell you who your children play with.

oh god. why can't we just meet with OUR friends and make our kids play around our feet amongst the empty wine bottles, and then put the kids to bed when they are tired?
our little sky-fallen blessing (all of nine months) seems very happy to play with our adult friends when we are out, or when we have visitors.
i am feeling at 47 that i am too tired to be a new mum who breastfeeds a million times a day, let alone having to be around other ankle biters who tire me out just by playing in my general direction.
SERIOUSLY, i am daunted at the thought that my energy levels will have to soon extend to other children and their parents.
i think wine, cheese, gossip and hard liquor should help (and that is just to get me out the door) . . .
even more seriously, i shall study your recommendations and work out a strategy to survive the next few years before boarding school ( three is not too young for boarding school is it?).

Until they can go on their own make sure you only arrange playdates with Mums you think you might have something in common with - otherwise it can be a really uncomfortable couple of hours.

I'm with Andrea - check out the other moms first! You DO NOT want to have a two hour play date with someone you have nothing in common with ... trust me... I know....

Ruth, your post was too funny!
Seriously, the worst thing is when the other mother is just not your cup of tea. My twins shared a best friend (who played favourites with them for his own gain, but you'll learn all about that eventually!)who played at my house almost every day. Mum tagged along with him and for the next two hours I was driven crazy! She was lonely and had no friends, so she latched onto me like she was drowning. The woman was neither bright nor honest, and she actually asked for things she saw in my house! Stupidly, I gave her a few non-precious pieces of bric-a-brac which was not a good idea. I should have told her how rude she was for asking and thrown her out! I also had to "frisk" her son before he left because he was filling his pockets with small toys he had found in my boys' room.I was very pleased when they moved onto a wealthier family, and I still cross the street rather than pass this woman on the sidewalk!

Like many other commenters, my son has been "playing with" (at 2 and 3 I use the term advisedly) the kids of my friends. His best friend is my dearest girlfriend's daughter, who is a good 14 months younger than him.

At the first preschool we tried him at, there was only one mother in his class with whom i could tell I had anything in common. So we see them.

At the second preschool (my kid was being bullied, for God's sake and we pulled him) the really savvy teacher has suggested some playdate partners and I have really liked the moms, and Josh likes the kids. This is a Montessori school, so ideologically we're all, if not on the same page, at least in the same chapter.

Longwinded way of saying - it's the mom that matters here. At least for now.

I have already commented but what I want to add is that my kid already has playdates from the baby group and people around this village who he still plays with regularly - since people are commenting about playdates in general but meeting new people at the kindergarten is more the issue I think.

My boy/girl twins have just turned 4. They are not deperate for playdates because they have a built in playmate. However, my son attached himself to a friend in the local park before their second birthday and we have gotten to know the parents pretty well. So now we feel we can drop our kids off at each other's houses without entertaining each other! The only problem is that it has created a little love/hate triangle with the children. The friend is a girl and therefore wants all of my daughters' things, but really wants to play with my son. Problem. The friend is jealous of my daughter because of the twin thing. Bigger problem. So we suggested to our daughter that she should invite another friend - but she seems to really want to be part of the friendship triangle. She also won't think of just not going on the playdate. The friends parents are very, very keen on the playdates because they only have one child. So I find myself giving my son a lecture on "being kind to your sister" before the playdates. If they are playing at our house I have to give "kindness/fairness" lectures at regular intervals. So honestly I think twin playdates are harder to manage especially when they are really great for one twin and really not great for the other . . . I suggest you make sure that you have a friend for each twin - and then their mothers can entertain each other while you put your feet up!

my kids usually come home and say... i wanna play with little X... so then i phone little X's mom and tell her... the kids wanna play, i'll pick up little X after school, here's my address... pick him up at my house at 17h00... okthanxbye...

mom-dates can be VERY akward, best to avoid it...

Agree with Stef.
Leave the mom thing out of it. For the 1st play, have the critter come to your house but sans mom. (u bring critter home from school)
Have a definite time the mom must fetch. Remember 3's a crowd so rather have a day when one is at Mimi or have 2 playdate critters.
If they want to play at a friend you have the excuse yours need to nap 1st so YOU can drop them off, hang around for half hour to plant surveillance camera and then go off to wait in your car across the road behind the bushes.
You will never let them go to a friend without you because you are a wuss but well done for pretending you can.

I can only give my own experience, which has really only happened once so far (am lucky enough to have two good friends that I've known for 23 and 15 years respectively) who were nice enough to BOTH have two kids each, one older one about my son's age and one younger one about my daughter's age - lovely friends with excellent planning!) so most of my kids' "playdates" are with these pre-made little friends that my already-friends so lovingly provided. However, when my (now 6 yr old) son was 3 yrs old, a woman and her 3 year old son came to my house to pick up something I was getting rid of on freecycle (do you have freecycle there? Where you give things away that you no longer need instead of throwing them away, in order to keep things out of landfills? Anyway...)and her son and my son started playing in the driveway while was helping her load stuff into her trunk, and on impulse we scheduled a playdate - turns out she had only moved to my area a year before and didn't know anyone - long story short, 3 years later she is one of my best friends, her son and my son are bosom buddies, and her new husband's two kids (also both about my son's age - more lovely planning on her part!) are two new friends for my son. Has all turned about swimmingly! Therefore, I'm all for more playdates/blind dates with other moms! I can always use more friends!

In all seriousness, I suppose it is a little like a blind date, but just like any situation where you have at least something in common with a stranger, there is always the potential for a friendship to develop, and you know your kids already like each other. It can be awkward for a bit, but that part really doesn't last too long. And yes, at this age it's better if both moms are there - easier on the kids, easier on the moms' overactive imaginations.

I find with kids there's always plenty to talk about on a very light level. It's like work socializing - the icebreakers are built in ("I see your kid like xxx too") and then there are your general topics like where to find great deals on clothes, books, etc.

I have a playgroup that's met forever where I love the mums and they are like a circle of family to me.

But I don't mind spending a few hours with mums I'm not so fond of. It's only for a few years, and to me it's worth the investment in time so my son gets the chance to learn the social ropes as it were - in a safe way with me there while he's still little. In other words: it is not about me.

I think the drop-off play date is very dependent on local custom, and also whether a parent has older kids and is more comfortable with other kids, and so on.

I am going to forbid my sister from reading or commenting on my blog.

Aren't younger sisters supposed to fear and respect their older sisters???

Mumble mumble. She knows me too well.

Haha sister Mel! That's exactly what I would do.

Don't ever, ever only invite one! Nothing worse than 3 little kids fighting over each other. You'll spend too much time setting down that glass of wine.

For us the no-parent playdate came only after potty training was done. I would never expect his friend's parent to change a poopy diaper!

If you would never let Adam & Kate go to someone's house without you then just assume the same for the other mom. You'll both know after a few playdates if you'd both feel comfortable with leaving your kids without you there. I don't do no parent playdates until the kids are 6...unless it is at a house of someone who was a friend BEFORE I had kids.

Keep it light - gossip about the other parents, the teacher, the kids. You'll have that common ground already. And make sure that you have a time that they ABSOLUTELY must leave (you know, schedule a hair appointment for yourself).

I've been fortunate on several accounts when it comes to playdates. I have a few good friends and we all have kids around the same age so when we get together it's more of a mom playdate. I belong (loosely) to a few local mother/child type groups that have regular get togethers starting when the kids where babies, now that the kids are 2-3 we've figured out what kids get along well and what moms get along well as although we still occasionally meet up with the larger group from time to time mostly it's the moms who get along who meet up for regular playdates.

I like to do playdates at the park. I don't want people at my house. They will be judging my lack of interior design skills (as WELL as my lack of social skills). Can't have that.

When we have been to other kids' houses, I find myself very busy with judging their interior design skills to worry much about socializing. Kidding. I actually feel like I spend the time trying to keep my kids from breaking their stuff/drooling on their toys/stepping on their couch. I hate play dates. Alcohol would definetly help. I like the suggestion of having a time when you must leave (I never am sure how long is too long and how long isn't long enough though).

Maybe don't go by me though. Small talk in general is kind of torturous for me.

I'm with the commenter that suggests meeting somewhere besides home for the first time. It'll give you a chance to feel out the mom, and there will be other distractions around if it's kind of awkward. If the two of you get along well, then you'll be happy to have her in your home. If not, you can be busy every time she wants to get the kids together! I personally have only ever done a few playdates where I didn't already know the mom at least a little, basically for the same reason you are feeling angst. Good luck! In a few years time they'll be old enough to have playdates without parents along.

We have been doing play dates for a while but we never really call them that. We just call it "getting together" and the focus is usually moms drinking wine while the kids play. And I guess we've been lucky because the parents of our kid's friends are pretty cool. Although, at 3, our son doesn't do a lot of the choosing - we just happen to notice who he talks about, and if we happen to bump into the parents, and they seem cool, we will set something up.

Sorry to say it but wine makes the world go round... The mid-day "coffee playdate" really has no appeal to me but then, I work during the week, so I don't need that anyway. We do a lot of visiting in the evenings - neighbors that live nearby - or doing the whole BBQ / drink / kids play thing on weekends. We have developed our closest friendships this way. It works out great - kids get to play (which is a break, really) - we get to relax with a glass and have some adult time.

Oh and we have just started venturing into the no-parents playdate. I agree that getting potty trained is essential for that. And we keep it short - hubby and i go to the gym, or a nearby restaurant, etc - no more than 1 1/2 hours. For longer dates, we still pay a babysitter, we just feel better about that for some reason.

Hated play dates. When my kids were younger and were asked over for play dates, I made it clear to the other parent that I did NOT reciprocate. Nothing worse to me than having an extra kid or 2 around before they are socially ready to play independently, and have to spend the whole damn time intervening.

Now they are old enough that I usually have someone over so that I can get something done...they entertain each other and I have to get involved very little other than to make sure they aren't starting fires or smoking cigarettes.

BUT, if you are going to succumb to the ridiculous pressure, a few rules: 1) NEVER EVER have an odd number. It never works. 2) Limit the time. One and a half to two hours tops for kids your kids' age. Even better if it can overlap a meal, because that kills about 10 minutes. 3) You have to supervise it much more closely than you would your own kids. Kids their age don't have the social skills yet to deal with the normal conflicts that arise - they are learning, and so we have to be there to help them. 4) Only have wine after noon. The other parents will talk about you if you start any earlier!

Good luck, but I say avoid it if you can. It works much better to just hang out with people you like, and if they have kids of different ages, that works out just fine.

So many logistics to this huh? I have park playdates and house playdates...The house playdates have been the hardest because having people you don't know over is not always fun. After getting to know the Mom's a little better we have developed some rules-

1. There is no need to clean your house for a playdate
2. The children can help ( pretend) to pick up a little but in the end the host will straighten their house after the guests leave
3. If it a 4pm playdate, wine or beer in mandatory!!

Happy Playing!

I can tell you a little about playdates from the nanny's point of view. Mothers often snub the nanny, or worse try to poach her. Ive had moms and dads just phone while I am at work, and bring themselves and their children over. People will ask domestic help strange personal questions that they would never think of asking the parent. I serve beer or wine or tea. With the family that I work for, its okay to indulge in a drink with them, If I feel like it. The children are usually too thrilled with eachothers company to be looking for snacks. I suggest giving the nanny ample warning if a play date is arranged on her watch.

I suppose my daughter will be into this soon (she'll be four in a few months). Which means that I will need to clean my house or something, right?

Neutral territory first - chick-fil-a wherever. Then, if you can stand the mom play at your home. Then her house. Then, if you're comfortable you can send your kid.

Three is a crowd - keep it even.

Here are my suggestions:

1)Set up a playdate with a child your twins regularly play with (like a school mate), so that they do not spend the whole playdate clinging to your legs because they do not know the other child (or ignore him/her completely).

2) Set up a playdate with a child your twins regularly play with and whose parent(s) you observed for a little while to know you won't mind spending couple of hours with.

3) Offer to set up the first playdate arrangement. If you don't know the other party, offer to meet at a park or something, so you or they can make an exit if kids don't get along, get tired early or the conversation stalls too much. If you hit it off, invite them over.

4) Avoid parents/mother especially giving the obvious signal of being incredibly desperate for adult time. These tend to be stay-at-home mothers with difficult kids and a partner/spouse who never gives them a well deserved break and no access to help with the kids, no friends/family in the area. They get clingy and push for dates and never leave once over at your house. At the same time, try to avoid those who treat the playdates as a free babysitting opportunity. No effort to be friends with you, not much effort to reciprocate hosting a playdate etc. These two extremes reveal themselves pretty quickly.

4) Supervise the kids from a distance. A successful playdate involves kids playing well (most of the time) with each other (or parallel if they are really young), and parents enjoying a beverage of their choice and idle chatter. If you stay in the same room with the kids, they will cling to you.

Good luck! They are really enjoyable once you find the right match for your kids and yourself and you make new friends.

I guess we did mom/kid playdates typically in preschool. once they hit kindergarten, it is pretty much without moms/dads. sometimes if I'm good friends with a mom we stick around but usually we use it to get stuff done without kids. I have let my kids go without me when I know the parents well.

We've just recently entered the land of playdates with classmates, vs. friends of ours. The weirdest part has been the parents who basically see a playdate as free babysitting, drop the kid off and bolt. I find it really awkward to be responsible for a kid I don't know. Good Lord, what if he gets hurt?! It is awkward to have the mom around, but at least for me, less weird.

We've just recently entered the land of playdates with classmates, vs. friends of ours. The weirdest part has been the parents who basically see a playdate as free babysitting, drop the kid off and bolt. I find it really awkward to be responsible for a kid I don't know. Good Lord, what if he gets hurt?! It is awkward to have the mom around, but at least for me, less weird.

oh, and tertia, it is ALWAYS all right to serve alcohol. after all, the catholic church (among others) serves it during the most serious stuff they do. if the play date fails, the adults won't notice because they are trashed. and the adult antics will be sure to keep the kids amused.

I love the dynamics between you and sister Mel! Very entertaining! Can't give you any pearls of wisdom on this topic unfortunately. My kids went to play school after school (am a full time working mom - that is I work from 9 - 6 but am mom 24/7) - so never really had to deal with Play Dates... good luck!

I think that once you get to know the mom, you will be comfortable deciding whether it's OK for the mom(s) to go run a few errands while the children play. I would just clear it up, right up front. When you set up the playdate, ask the mom what she has in mind - hanging around? setting up a schedule whereby you supervise the playdate one week, and she does the next? I think that's an ideal setup if you can find a cooperative mom. Or, if you just like the mom and want to hang out with her, invite her and the child over, make it clear you want her to stay, and mix up a light cocktail. Hopefully she'll return the favor one day.

Doctor Mama wrote a really funny post about one of HellBoy's playdates and how she had the same feelings: she was hoping to make friends with the parents, wondering if it was appropriate for her to have that desire, also sort of hoping there'd be an alcoholic beverage served for the adults, feeling a little awkward, wondering what her role was . . . it was a really sharply observed piece of writing. DM describes herself as a person who has to remind herself to engage in the socially appropriate "friendliness" cues (eye contact, handshake, smile, comment favorably on their house as you enter it, etc.) and if that's true, perhaps it's why she's such an observant and articualte writer on the topic of social interactions. But yeah, you're not the only one who's wondered about the etiquette of these things.

short note on play dates.
1. first meeting in park/neutral ground
2. invite more than one child/parent combo
3. keep it short - 1 hour
4. invite chosen approved child over to your house for short play
5. work your way up to leaving them at chosen/approved home for short play
by that time they will be asking for sleep overs, you would have check out the gorgeous dads, laid on the wine..this is when you insist on parent being there the whole stay!!

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