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I dunno, Tertia- sounds more like free babysitting to me. I suppose that's how some people view playdates, but I stay with my children, unless it's someone I know very, very well.

If you and the other parent are friends, then you might want to have your tea and tarts (or wine, when not pregnant) and have your own playdate. And if you know the other parent could use a couple hours on her own, then you tell her to just drop the kid off. Of course, this means that you want K&A to have another play date with these kids at their house--with you skedaddling and going shopping or running errands.

I can't imagine staying. I would find that completely weird and rude to do..I have an almost 4 and a 6 year old and I can't remeber that ever happening with them or with myself. Only exeption is mom of son's best friend. We do double dates as we are great friends too. The boys are very annoyed with that. I really can't imagine staying, hwo akward must those visits be< I mean why would someone like me because he likes my kid. and Lots of dads at home somre parts of the week here and I really can't see myself having tea with them...(nor my husband with the ladies (i do trust him buit he would die)

Dude, she has to check with you BEFORE the playdate. At least, that's what I would have told her. I don't leave my kid w/strangers no matter how much I think I will like them, and I expect the same.

I wouldn't have left my son alone at age four on a play date unless it was with an adult who he already knew well and who I knew well. Even now, at nine, I'll hang around for awhile if I don't know the parents. Last summer, he was invited to an amusement park about an hour north with a neighbor child that we knew pretty well. Initially I said yes and then later panicked about it. My husband was having the same second thoughts so I called the mother and asked if I could go along (actually, I said my son wanted me to go along; I'm sure she saw through it). Anyway, I just wasn't willing to worry about him all day andy everyone had a good tim though I was forced to ride on things that made me want to vomit. So, I think it's all about individual comfort level. In other words: you're right, she was wrong.

I must admit Tertia, with my little girl there is just one best friend that I let her go to to play without me - I know the mother v well, and they live in our complex, (so we take turns for playdates), otherewise I go with and stay for tea for two hours while they play. With my older girls, I know their best friends parents v well - and most of the time, I organise that their friends come to me, so that they are all at my house (I guess I am painful) but it works for me. I would not drop and leave younger one or older one's if I do not know the parents v well. I guess everyone has different ideas on playdates. Helen

I'm glad the play date went well and that, hehe, you now have a social life.

when my older girls, now 26 and 22 were little, i would visit my friends, and the kids tagged along and played with the multitudes of kids at those houses - no play dates except by accident. when they were around 6 or so, they could be dropped off to the houses of people we knew well, and play there without me for a few hours, getting up to sleepovers by the time they were 9 or so.

with amelia, now 16 months, i don't have friends my own age with kids her age, most of 'em are grandmothers - sooooo - i will be inviting kids and mums over (and dads too if amelia's dad is around) for double/triple dates, and returning the favour by visiting them. can't see myself leaving her with anyone we don't know very well tho. especially not the first time she goes to someone else's house.

Well, you can't go by me because I am puckered at both ends (moreso being an American ;-) but I don't leave my kids places. I definetly feel sometimes that that is the expectation and parents are surprised that I plan to stick around. But I bring cookies and put on my social face so too bad for them.

That said, I had a friend who was a single mom and when her kid had a playdate, it really was an opportunity to get some errands done without him. Not in a "free babysitting" kind of way but in a "come up to gasp air while swimming in to-do lists with a child hanging onto you" kind of way. I think we two parent households sometimes can't imagine what it must be like to get the day to day things done with a child and absolutley no chance for reprieve.

Still, it would be nice to know the expectation ahead of time. I still see playdates as a pretty formalish thing where moms with older/more kids than me seem to have a very casual attitude about it. Yeah! Drop them off whenever. See you when you get back. What is a control freak like me supposed to do with that?

My definition of playdate is just like yours, Tertia. Unless the hostess has OFFERED to *watch* the guest-children while the other mom/s go run errands or whatever. But that's a totally different animal, IMO - that's really a babysitting co-op, rather than a "playdate."

Sorry you had the disappointment. Perhaps, as you get to know the mom better, you can work up the nerve to ask if you two can chat while the kids play? Or maybe you can bring tarts to her house next week, and refuse to leave?

I would find it hard to leave my children at a persons house without really knowing them. I could see if she had been to a couple play dates with you before and knows you will not intentionally harm them and I don't think your an asshole, your thinking is right in line with mine... Or maybe we are both assholes hah?

I am with you. I wouldn't leave my kids at someones house who I didn't know. I have just recently left my 6yo at a friends house and we have know each other for 5+years. Maybe I am the ass.

Moxie had an post about playdates recently -- apparantly it depends on the location and age of the kids whether the parents stay. My definition is similar to yours, especially since 2 kids are being dropped off, and they are rather young. for example, I recently arranged a playdate w/ my 3 year olds friend and it was assumed that the mom would come (we actually were as excited as the kids). for my 5 year old, who is in kindergarten, I think I would talk to the mother first as to what is expected -- I would never presume that I could just drop her off. It hasn't come up yet since the playdates are usually with a neighbor's kid, and both sets of parents feel free to drop the kids off without staying.


I would have been shocked too... thanks for letting me know!!

I'm usually the house people come to for playdates, and if the parents don't stay, its considered baby sitting.

I also would not leave my child unless the family was well known by us for a long time, otherwise get ready to be social.

Of course, I had a hard time leaving him when I had to have my daughter, and he was with family, lol.

Where I live, the visiting parent of children that age or younger *not* staying would be seen as exceedingly odd. It would be considered a form of babysitting. And, the *first* time they came over? Oh, my.

Nope - I am like you....the first playdate is a double date for sure! Mom + kid. I always need to suss out a place and a person before I leave my kids anywhere.

Weird chick. Fortunately you are not a weird chick so she got off lightly.

The 1st time I would not leave them there alone. Maybe the 3rd, and like you said, after I checked their background, credit, and employment history. HAH.

In my neck of the woods (California) it is decidedly NOT normal to drop your kids off at a stranger's house and call it a playdate! "Playdate" here means pretty much exactly what you thought it did in SA, minus the yummy food. I don't really go all out to impress anyone who brings their kids over for a playdate, but I do expect them to STAY! I am not a babysitter!

Among my friends, we do watch each other's kids sometimes, but we do NOT call it a 'playdate'. It's 'can you watch my kids'.

Honestly, my 2 cents on the issue is that your kids don't need playdates. Cousins + neighbors = plenty of socializing. I have an only child, she has no cousins and we have no close neighbors with kids her age, so I've had to go out on a limb a bit more to find playmates for her, but it has always been in the context of finding a nice acquaintance for myself, too. Moms chat + eat, kids play, it's all good!

Here in Edinburgh a "playdate" (we don't really have a name for it) means exactly what this other mum did...why pass up the chance of some time to yourself?! On the days I look after the kids, we usually take a trip somewhere like the zoo, or make cakes or something. On one memorable occasion though I had to take a little boy home because he was unwell. Mum took a long time to answer the door, and when she did she was in her dressing gown...with husband in background and a Chinese carry-out meal with wine laid out...ahheemm...I made a very quick getaway!

I find it very strange that parents drop off their kids at my house with my nanny. Shocks the sh*t right out of me every time. I would not do it unless the other parent offered and I knew them very, very well. My son is 5 and it is foolish to take chances. I do, however, live in a large city in the US so perhaps my opinion is off. Also I am crazy, must factor that in as well.

I usually stay but that is mostly because I have no social life so enjoy chatting to the other parents.

Wow. There are a lot of uptight parents! I never stayed at a playdate. I was also a live-in nanny for years and parents left kids with me all the time. Playdates are dates for CHILDREN to play! I'm really floored!

Writing in from the suburbs of a big city in the U.S.--
Most of the time, parents do not stay for playdates for my almost-4 year old, and I usually won't stay unless specifically invited. I'll stay and chat for just a few minutes, to make sure that she's comfortable and the house doesn't have any obvious safety hazards, and then I'm gone. I prefer it that way-if I had to clean up the whole house for adult inspection eyes every time, my child would have few playdates!
I'm not sure where the trust factor comes in--if the child has always seemed happy and well-behaved, the mom is polite and friendly, and the house is well-tended and in a decent neighborhood, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they are very similar to me.
Birthday parties are another grey area. I once accompanied my older daughter to a birthday party when she was 4 and I was the ONLY parent who stayed. On the other hand, at her recent 8th birthday party, 4 of the 12 parents decided to stay. So, you never know.

For those who are floored... Playdates are for children to play, sure, but if a reasonable amount of parental supervision is involved, and for the under four set, it is... Then buggering off is free-baby sitting. I wouldn't want to burden another parent with my small lunatic so I could have a free afternoon.

I would have been taken aback too. Arriving and asking if you would mind if I lef my kids because you know, I have THINGS to do is not cool either. How could you say no? Eh. No.

Still, hope you generate a healthy social life from this anyway.

After about age four here, it is assumed that playdates are dropping off your kids and picking them up later. That doesn't mean that I wasn't horrified the first time someone left their child with me or when I left my child with them. But, you know, I find I am always very careful to make sure that the child who is visiting doesn't get hurt, etc. I assume that other parents at the houses my children go to are the same. For me, I would rather it be one of my children that fall down the stairs, not someone else's child who is in my care. So I am extra aware of safety with other people's children. Does that make sense?

I do try and talk with the other parents first, of course, to get a sense of who they are and what they are like. Luckily in our neighbourhood, everyone seems pretty aware and involved in parenting, and no worries have arisen so far. But I try to keep my Spidey sense in working order!

I am like you - I think a playdate is an invitation to socialize (somewhat) between parents too. When the kids are older (say 9 or 10), and somewhat able to take care of themselves, or at least recognize a dangerous situation, then a drop off is appropriate. Then it's not a playdate. I guess I'm just weird and antisocial.

When they were really young 0-6 play dates were usually an excuse for the mom's to get together and drink coffee and gab. After that I found it was more of a drop and run type situation, you take mine, I will take yours 'thanks for the break!' type situation. Worked for me when I knew the mom well and she knew my kids. But no, at 4 my kids did not get dropped off at a near strangers.

Hey! Im an Aussie and there is NO WAY I would be doing the 'drop off'. I have stayed for every play date and Birthday party my Twins have ever been invited to!I will continue to do so until they are about 15 or so!
After 2 years of school, and having established a firm friendship with many Mums, I finally allowed Ned and Cecilia to have a play date at a friends place for 2 hours without me.. about a month ago. The boys Mum and Dad, and Nana and Pop, and cousin were all there, so Oscar and I went home to have fun. When I picked them up Cecilia was upset, and over a few hours became inconsolable, but wouldnt tell me why. I was starting to freak out when she finally whispered that the boy and his cousin had pressured her very forcefully to show them her private vagina! I was MORTIFIED and FURIOUS!! and caps is the only way I can even remotely express that mortification and fury. She is a strong little girl, and didnt show anything, but the pressure had been huge, and she was very, very upset about it. Where were the parents and Grandparents when this was happening? I had known them for 2 years!! I TRUSTED them! So... NEVER again! No more unsupervised Play Dates.. ever.

I did speak to the Mum and she was so upset.. but that saying about closing the door AFTER the horse bolts? Yeah!


Here is Melbourne I have stayed with my kids until they were 6 (primary school aged) or so and I knew the parents well. I would (and I think most of my friends would) expect to stay for a cuppa while the kids had a play. I would only leave kids that are your kids age with people I had known for a long time.

BTW well done with the Cricket :-(

Not exactly free babysitting, since there's turn-taking involved.

No way I'm leaving my beautiful boys with anyone I don't know well, no matter if their kids seem "okay" or not. You have no idea what goes on in that family and what kids have come to accept as okay, even though it might be awful. Child molesting happens all over, many families have some kind of story of an uncle or a family friend. I am not giving anyone access to my children. It's up to me to protect them.

Just for reference, my mom was molested by both her stepfather and grandstepfather. You can't get any more "well-known" than a family member, yet this is the kind of thing that happens. Some might call me paranoid, but my mom kept a very close eye on us when we were small and no one ever touched us as a result. Stay with your kids and you will have nothing to regret!

In Zambia we did both. Either we would drop our kids off/have kids over, or we would make a tea party out of it where mums were included. However, when we dropped off the kids and left, the kids were always accompanied by the nanny. I personally would feel bad leaving another mother with 4 or 5 kids to deal with on her own. Personally I would also get a bit frazzled looking after so many kids by myself.

So now we have moved back to JHB and I am really not sure what the ettiquette is, but Betty (our nanny) will always accompany the kids. Especially in summer when the kids want to swim. I would not be happy with just one person looking after so many kids in the pool.

Oh yeah - one more thought for those of you who think Tertia is nuts/uptight/doesn't know how it works. Can we just look at the numbers here? She wasn't left with her kid + playmate. Four kids. FOUR. Four little kids that required some direction and intervention, because at that age, they just do... Nope. Not right. Not the first time at the very least.

I wouldn't do it. Nope. Not done at that age

Neat to see how the expectations in this case differ so widely by location.

I would not have been shocked if the mom just dropped off, I know that is normal for some. But for ME, being a very paranoid (uptight?) mom, I always stay for the first playdate, especially if the kids are young and I don't know the hosts. But it has definitely been awkward at times, with a "what are you still doing here?" vibe from the other mom!

Usually I can kind of hedge my bets with a "i'll just stay for a few moments until they're settled." If the other mom looks bored / surprised / horrified, I take off after assessing for safety hazards, LOL. If the other mom says, "well, of course! here is the three-course tea I prpeared for us," then I stay the whole time!!

But those who thought it was "free babysitting," come on!! How about "helping each other out."

I always thought the play dates were for the kids. Having the other mother stay would put a crimp in what I planned to do while the children played together. With the kids happily engaged I would be able to clean out closets or bake bread, write letters, call friends, or sort out the junk drawers. If I want to have a friend over I invite a friend. If she has kids she can bring them but that is a play date for me and the kids have to be nice to my friend's kids. I really don't think that I need to be friends with the parents of my kids' friends. And if I invited the other kids over I have already said I would watch them as they entertain my children, it is hardly babysitting. Just MHO.

I very seldom leave my kids alone for playdates - after all I want lemon meringues! (And, on the other side of the coin, I always provide mother appropriate playdate snacks when we host the playdate)

Seriously though, I stay for playdates because I want to know who has contact with my children. Even though you may know the family, there may be other people in the house at the time of the playdate who are not the type of people you want hanging around with your children. I refused to allow a playdate to take place at a home that I knew the mother wouldn't even be there, and that the children would be left in the care of the domestic worker. That mother was very offended when she asked my child why she couldn't come and visit them and my daughter matter-of-factly replied, "Because my mother doesn't know what goes on in your house!"

I also find it really weird when some parents are only to keen for me to take their kids for a playdate. One such playdate we had was arranged 2 weeks in advance, and on the morning of the playdate I asked the child's mother if she wanted my phone number and address to collect her child later. She seemed really unfussed about letting her child come home with me. As I recited my cell number for her to type into her phone, she still said, "What's your name again?"!


in my circle this behavior would be frowned upon, in fact it would be regarded as unacceptable, and -sorry for the terminology but it's fitting- plebeian. Sorry sister Mel & other bloggers, you are dead wrong on this!!

First, if this woman needs a babysitter she can pay for one. Second, it may make it more acceptable if she asked you to do it in advance, still not very educated behavior but somewhat better.
And I would recommend that you do not leave your children alone with this family, because you would never know how well supervised they are when you are with them. Maybe they would ask a neighbor to look after them and go shopping.
And regarding play-dates being for children, sorry, plain wrong too. First, you don't know who comes and goes in other people's houses, whether they have unguarded firearms in an accessible drawer (read the news in the US), or a pedophile uncle.
Secondly, even if the basic safety features are covered, I would really want to make sure that my children are not exposed to certain things. These may be different for you, but, say, as an example for my case, if the friend's family was racist, or a nazi sympathizer, etc...sure, parents don't need to like each other or play together, but they have an obligation to know what people- and ideas they are exposing their children to. And if you think that it doesn't matter because the children are so young, think twice. Children absorb everything their parents say and do, and often mimic the behavior. By the time they are 6 they can use a racial slur as well as anyone, even if they don't understand it.

I am really surprised by all the "I would never leave my kids" for a playdate. Honestly, by the time they are 5 or 6 years old you are more in the way of their play and supervision is minimal in one-on-one playdates. If the parents stay I have to chat and entertain them and my kid does not always pick my best friends' kids to be friends with. I can't get on with my own stuff.

A parent is welcome to hang out and most do for 20 minutes or so but after that they leave and return 2-5 hours later.

I would add that these are people we know through school so it is not the first time we've met or anything. However, I do not stay for the first playdate either.

I think things were different when they were 3. At 3 we leant more toward the parents staying for most of the time and perhaps nipping out for an errand if things were going well.

A question I had for families is how long a playdate usually lasts for primary school (elementary school) aged kids. They seem to be 2-4 hours here but we have some friends who 'dump' the kids for the whole day and I am starting to get a bit fed up.

[mother to two boys age 7 and 2]

Around here playdate = kids only.

I must be another uptight American because I would not leave my almost-4 b/g twins with ANYONE (other than my relatives) unsupervised by me. I just don't trust other people. Sorry if that sounds blunt or hypercritical. I am a principal in an elementary school--every time I think I've heard it all, I learn something new...not willing to take that chance with children this young. I do know, however, that I'm overprotective.

My children have never spent time away from me and my husband except with my mom and well, at daycare but I was in the building all the time since we owned the darn place.

I know how my kids behave when I am around and I know how they behave when they think I am no where around (a la the daycare) and honestly, our playdates have always been with my 2 high school buddies so we don't leave our kids because we want to visit with one another as well....however........if I had a choice, I'd love to try it and I wouldn't be too bothered if I knew it was someone I could trust because I know for a fact, my kids behave MUCH BETTER when we aren't around, we being, me, my husband or my mother.

However, I've never had to leave in the care of someone without one of the 3 of us there. Now, with that said, I thought I was going to be forced into doing this a few weeks ago and you should have seen the panic in me. I was a nervous wreck the 3 or 4 days when it was a decision in limbo. As it was, my mom didn't leave until after the wedding we were shooting so she watched them while we did the pre-wedding photos and then brought the kids with her to the wedding.

This is where I expected all hell to break lose. However, I have a couple of cousins (one who lives with my mom, one who goes to church with my mom) who my children will mind in a heartbeat. Even when the kids are at mom's, the cousin that lives there has to make them behave sometimes because my kids really push my mom's buttons because they know she will let them run wild.

And, I sent word to the 2 cousins (they are siblings by the way) that since they were going with my mom to the wedding, would they please help with my kids. Let me tell you something, I didn't even recognize those 2 kids. They were without a doubt, the youngest kids there and the most well behaved people under the age of 20. NO kidding, the teenagers that were there didn't do near as well as my 4 and 6 year old.

But, again.....I'm still scared to leave them in someone else's care. I'm afraid that they will behave really bad and people will think I am a bad parent. Funny thing is, I've had many kids at my house without their parents and I don't mind at all and they always act wonderful even though their parents tell me over and over that if they misbehave to put them in time-out like I would my own or to call them to come get them....weird how they act so much better away from their parents.

My 2 high school buddies and I have a great relationship and we don't hesitate to correct each others kids (especially if it is a dangerous situation) even when we are present but I would still be afraid of what my kids might try if I left them with one of them alone....sounds crazy don't it?

I think it has to do with how many kids you have. I was very protective of my now-15 year old twins and didn't let them play at ANYONE'S house because I didn't know any parents here (we'd just moved). My daughter who is now 6 has been allowed to play at other kids' homes if I've met the parents first. I'm much more relaxed about the whole thing.

I do prefer to have kids play over here, though, so I can supervise.

(I can't believe your kids are 4. Time flies.)

Hi Tertia, there is no way in a million years that I will leave any of my kids with someone that I don't know very very very well. It's very hard to believe that other people do it differently ... Gx

Ha ha ha, love your last line. As an American, it is true, we are somewhat uptight in certain ways.

Interestingly, when my kids were younger (toddlers & preschoolers) I often formed friendships with the other mother's on play dates. In fact two of my closest friends are from that period of parenting. But I've also noticed a shift: as they grew up, my kids and my friends' kids did not always remain friends and didn't enjoy playing together nearly as much as they used to. For a few yrs, we still tried get-togethers w/kids + moms, but after a while we realized it wasn't working out so well. So now us mom's get together w/out the kids and have a great time.

There was a definite transition in play dates for us around school-age (5 & up), where my children made friends and we parents did not feel compelled to be friends as well. I mean we're friendly and sociable w/each other, but we wouldn't hang out together. And yet, we still help w/keeping tabs on the kids. So, we kind of trade off w/ the bigger kids, I have an extra one one day and another day I have one less. Keep this in mind, b/c once Max is born, you might really need that network of play date friends with will have Kate & Adam over during naptime so that you and Max can rest.

It would have been nice to be notified BEFOREhand that she was going to just drop her kids off. That's all I have to say about that ;)

When I was little and had friends over to play, their mothers never came. I had no idea things were different now.

I would be very worry to leave my daughter with strangers. As a child myself I was sexually molested twice when I was left for play dates. Hey parents do not trust anybody, stay with your children all the time!

I find this site extremely helpful and really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I recently had an experience where my son was invited to one of his prescool friend's house for a "playdate." Whenwe arrived at his house, I had no idea that she had "things to do" and was not expecting me to stay. I was so embarassed when she said she had so many phone calls to make as the boys went up to his room to play. Knowing my son who is four 1/2, he is still at the age where he needs to have supervision (not at all times but someone needs to be in ear shot)especially in a new environment. After I told the mother that I was sorry, she said it was okay. It was not a long playdate afterall...only about an hour and half. It felt odd to just leave my son when I had planned to just stay and chat. In fact, I enjoy having social time too. We did end up having a nice talk while her little one was running around and the boys played.

My five year old daughter won't leave her playdates. She runs and hides. I think this made some of the mothers cross especially since I run through the house screaming at my kid. I'm afraid she's oI've tried being humorous. Any suggestions?

My 5 year old daughter doesn't want to leave playdates. She makes a scene and I have to run through other people's houses screaming at herto pack up and get ready. I'm afraid she is not going to be invited anymore. she goes to daycare all day so it's not like she doesn't get to play with kids ever. Also, I seem to be doing all the phone calling to set up playdates. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it. Maybe I should spend more time entertaining the mothers. Steph

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