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I was futzing about online the other day (well... as much as a WAHM can possibly futz) when I stumbled upon the world of themed playdates and planned kid activities. Which made me question all of existence because, honestly? I usually just throw a few board books and puzzles and musical instruments into a pile and let the kids have at it toddler death match style while I pound a beer or two from the safety of the couch.
So for a few moments there, as per usual, I wondered whether I was Doing It Wrong.
But then I decided to call bullshit. After all, I had just read an interview in The Sun magazine with anthropologist David F. Lancy, Ph.D., and he had extolled the virtues of self-directed learning, which had allowed me—for once in my life—to feel as if I was Doing It Right.
So as an antidote to all those Pinterest-inspired play date ideas floating around the Internet, making us all feel inadequate, here are my tips on how to host a playdate worth getting excited about.
Clean the house for once in your life. I never clean my house, except when I'm having company over. But if you're hosting a playdate, maybe make sure the detritus of your child's last 20 meals is not laying about on the kitchen floor for someone else's kid to ingest, and sweep up all of the litter in the back room so someone else's toddler doesn't think it's a sand box, and confirm that things are kid-proofed so your home is not a death trap.
Own the coolest toys ever. One of our playdate couple friends has an indoor roller coaster because apparently this is a thing now. They also have a ball pit. These are the things that allow you to throw a bunch of kids into one room and then forget about them for the next three hours.
Stock up on booze. When I started having people over for playdates, I always made it a point to have beer and wine on hand. "Really?" the other moms would ask me. "Is that allowed?" Of course it's allowed. When else is it allowed? How often do you go out to the bar with your friends anymore? Never. Which means you're usually just drinking alone at home like a closet alcoholic.
Bring out the hard stuff and order a pizza. Once all of the lightweights have headed home and you've separated the men from the boys, bring out the bourbon and the whisky you keep hidden on the top shelf of your pantry and order a pizza. This party is just getting started.
Engage in some intelligent conversation. I know. Your life now revolves around testing out different sippy cup brands and singing la-la-la at your child's music class and reading the same Pookie book 20 times in a row. But this is your chance to shine. Talk about sexual harassment in the workplace and gender-biased diagnosing or even about the latest book you read. Parenting books don't count.
Let the kids play until they pass out. Or rather, let them get tired enough to start yawning, but not so tired that they begin sobbing because they dropped a Cheerio into their bib and think the world is ending. This is when you know it's time to wrap it up because you will have tired out the kids so much you won't have to deal with them again until morning.
Basically, you'll know you have hosted the perfect playdate if you have made your home into an oasis for the harried parents in your life. A place where they can forget about their parenting responsibilities for a few hours. Where they can have their own plate of food instead of stealing the leftover mac and cheese bits from their child's melamine plate. Where they can engage in intelligent discourse (or whatever passes for intelligent discourse when you've been drinking.) Where they can leave happily buzzed and without a care in the world.