Now that both my kids are in school, they seem to have a far busier social life than me. Every week at least one of them has a playdate with friends and this is on top of the usual after school and weekend clubs. I like my main purpose is to taxi them around to their social activities or collect them from friends’ houses.
Bearing in mind our youngest is still only four, I find it amusing that she trots off to other people’s houses without any care or hesitation. She had her best friend from her class over to play the other week and we were on constant countdown for weeks until the day would arrive!
Playdates for me seem to have their definite advantages and disadvantages so without further ado, here’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly side of playdates:
1) Break from the Norm When my girls go over to a friend’s house, it give me a break from the routine. Even if one is on a playdate and I still have to do the school run to pick the other child up from school, it’s very rare to get some quality one on one alone time so I find I’m able to devote my entire attention to just one child which is a novelty. Even better is on those rare occasions (tonight is an example) when the girls get to both go to another set of sibling’s house. It means I get to avoid the school run altogether and have an extra couple of hours to get “stuff” done before I go and pick them up at six.
2) Information When my older daughter has friends over to play, I get to find out much more information. Usually I find that when I pick my children up every day from school and ask how their day was, I inevitably get the usual responses “I can’t remember” or “It was OK.” But whenever I ask this question when a friend comes to stay, I find that the friend will start to divulge more about what’s been happening and then my daughter will chip in too. I also enjoy listening to the conversations that go on between school friends as I’ll pick up nuggets of information which often make me smile. Just yesterday a friend came over for tea and my daughter and her friend were discussing which boys they liked playing with the best in their class!
3) Confidence When either of my children have a playdate they will always spend the day with that person, making an effort to sit with them at lunch and play with them at break times. This is good because it means I know that they are forming stronger bonds with their friends during the day and helping with their confidence.
1) Showing Off – No doubt about it, whenever my kids have a friend over for tea, they turn into a different child. They act up, showing off and this can range from shouting and hollering about something to getting over excited and running round the house to getting angry and physical with their siblings who may show an interest in joining in. I’ve got used to this behaviour now and realise that it’s the sign of things to come in the future (God help us when they’re teenagers), but my shocked initial reaction was “Who is this child and what have you done with my daughter?”
2) Pressure – I can’t deny it, but whenever we have a friend coming over to our house, I get this little knot of panic about what we are going to “do”! Sometimes the kids are happy to go and play and amuse themselves. Other times I feel the pressure to get involved in something crafty or cooking and baking. One of my daughter’s friends always does certain activities when my eldest goes to her house, so I can’t help feeling the need to reciprocate. My problem is, I’m pretty useless at this kind of thing and then there’s the pressure to do it all and fit tea in within a couple of hours max. It’s also important to make sure the favourite tea is bought and on-hand. Don’t run out of tomato ketchup or ice cream sauce like I have been known to do on a couple of occasions!
Thankfully, we’ve only had a couple of ugly playdate situations.
1) Toilet – The first was recently when my youngest had a friend over to play. She’d got so involved in what they were doing and had forgotten to get to the toilet. Trouble is that it was a poo. Suffice it to say I came out to find carnage and had to deal with clearing it up from everywhere.
2) Behaviour – We have had a couple of instances of kids over to play who have thrown tantrums and played up. But this hasn’t been recently and was more likely to have been when the children were of pre-school age. Sometimes, the parents were here too so I could easily let them deal with it.
Having kids at school hopefully means that these ugly situations to playdates should be on the way out! On balance, The good stuff about playdates far outweighs the other reasons.
Now I just need to get in on the social situation and arrange some more playdates for myself. Preferably with wine!