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Fayette-Mom: Playdate problems

Posted September 20, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

I’ve been at this parenting thing for six and a half years now, and there are still some things that I just don’t get. One challenge that keeps coming up: playdates.

I love the idea of my kids having friends and having fun with their friends and playing with their friends. What I don’t like is the constant shuffling around of kids to different houses with people who have different schedules. It’s exhausting trying to organize it all, and inevitably there are tears of frustration involved (hopefully not mine).

I have some mom friends who have playdates at their house every. single. day. This, I cannot fathom.

Why is that even attractive as a concept? With school and church and homework and afternoon activities, I honestly don’t know how these moms fit these playdates in. I’m lucky if I commit to one a week, and even then, I sort of resent it. But my kids love them, so I try to do as much as possible, and I try not to let it bother me. But every day? No way.

Then, there are the neighborhood kids who want to come over. This is fine with me, except, many of them are older and don’t have to go to bed as early as my young ones. When my doorbell rings at 7 p.m. and my kids are getting into the bath, it’s a problem, especially when my kids get upset, not understanding why they can’t play. Some of these kids have to split their time between their moms' and dads' houses, so playing on the weekends, when schedules aren’t as tight, isn’t always an option. Again, frustrated tears.

Not sure what the answer is on this one. When I was a kid, we played outside all the time, went to each others houses at will, without much supervision. You just can’t do that now. I want my kids to play and have fun, but I have to set boundaries as well.

One of these days, I hope to figure it all out.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," is out this month Globe Pequot Press. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom starting this week on Tuesdays.


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  • NCMOMof3 Sep 21, 2010

    miss,,I'm with you. I am a family child care provider so I have children in my home 11-12 hours out of the day. Weekends I'm pretty selfish with in regards to extra children. But I try to allow my boys to have friends over every so often. Now that they are older, one actually has his own place, it's easier because as long as there is food and video games, teenage boys are pretty easy to entertain

  • missparrothead Sep 21, 2010

    We have lots of playdates at our home and those kids parents reciprocate. (If they don't at some point, then we don't continue on.) My kids are now 7 & 10. BUT, where we draw the line is sleepovers- on special occasions only. Personally, I think sleepovers at a really young age are ridiculous- kids and parents are exhausted the next day and how fun is that on the wkend?? I didn't have them until late elem. school/jr high school growing up. My husband and I both work full time jobs and need our sleep on the weekends.

    I don't view playdates as a babysitter drop off. I think its important for our children to have develop their friendships outside of school. Our household consists of 4 extroverts, though. (LOL) Whatever makes your family happy is important.

  • NCMOMof3 Sep 21, 2010

    mine are older now, so this isn't so much an issue but I well remember when it was. My favorite was the parent who was always calling to see if her child could have a play date with mine,,,at my house. Sure, not a problem. The first dozen times. But the one time I had to say no she got really snotty. I'll never forget it how she sounded. Like I had let her down by not being available to basically be a free babysitter for her a few hours every other afternoon. Like my kid had played at her house over and over (not one time, mind you) and I was refusing to return the favor

  • howdiditgettothis Sep 21, 2010

    We usually try for a "play date" on Friday after school 1-2x a month, and occasionally a Sunday afternoon play date for our elementary school aged children. Maybe once a month or two sleepover, as well during school year.

    They have all day/week at school to see their friends.
    School work comes first after school. Then each child has one other activity. Beyond that, my kids like to stay at home and spend time playing with each other, and with their own toys. They don't have much time during the school year (except weekends) for prolonged "me" time.

    Try putting a sign over your doorbell that says "children can't play now" or something the neighborhood kids will understand.

    Your own children need to be told that their "playtime" is from this time to that time during the week, and YOU stick to it, as well. Even if it's 15 minutes on extra busy week days. It's up to them how/where to use it.

  • jkca Sep 21, 2010

    Jennifer, you are a working mom too and I totally understand your blog. I used to wonder, what the heck is a playdate? I personally can't stand that phrase. When I was growing up, we just "had friends over". A little of this organized "play" is fine on an occasional basis but kids need to learn to keep themselves entertained as well. Don't worry about the "playdate" stuff. We women have enough to worry about, let's just allow our kids to be kids! Good luck!

  • finesse187 Sep 21, 2010

    My issue is trying to set-up playdates and the parent not following through. Ex. We had a 3 day weekend and a mom suggested our kids have a playdate, I sent her email (number included), but never heard from her!! I don't like bothering people so I didn't bring it up again. Why initiate if you're not going to follow through?