It's popular in the blogosphere these days to hate on play
dates – you know, those double dates between moms and kids, which, depending on
your personality, are either super awkward or total lifesavers. I fall into the second camp. Here's why.
When my four-year-old comes home from school and announces, "Mommy,
let's play!" I'm good for about 20 minutes. That's how long I can pretend to be an evil queen, rebuild the same
puzzle we made yesterday or play Candy Land with made up rules that she changes
on the fly. Then I get itchy and start
tidying up or trying to make dinner, never mind that it's only 3:15pm. But my kid wants to play! And play she should. With another kid. Since she doesn't have a sibling (yet), our
best option is a play date.
What I love about the play date dynamic is that I'm not
solely responsible for entertaining my daughter, but I can still watch her in
action. I'm charmed by her adventures in
dress-up and make believe—I just prefer to observe from the kitchen table with
a cup of coffee in hand. If she needs me, I'm there. Otherwise, she's blissed
out on child's play while I get to relax. To me, that's the best of both
What I love about the play date dynamic is that I'm not solely responsible for entertaining my daughter, but I can still watch her in action.
I also very much enjoy the bonus of adult socializing. As a WAHM, play dates are the only grown-up interactions
I'm going to have all day. Since little
kids will get along with just about anyone, I tend to choose play date partners
based more on the parent than the child. Who do I like hanging out with? Who would I like to get to know
better? Who doesn't mind setting up a
super messy baking project in her home (NOT MINE)? That's who I call for a play date.
Okay, occasionally these interactions are awkward, like the time a mommy friend had to run out on our plans
at the last minute, leaving her husband in charge (he's nice enough, but the
gossip was sorely lacking). Or the time
I walked into a play date to find the other kid dripping green snot and hacking
up a lung. ("Um, I know it's only 50
degrees out, but let's move this play date outside, m'kay?")
But for the most part, play dates are key to my parenting
survival. If I'm exhausted (which I've
been for 7 months straight, since I'm pregnant,) I rely on play dates to ensure
that my daughter has fun, active, social experiences instead of just watching
TV on the couch with me. And if both moms
are exhausted, well, at least we can take turns being the perky one.