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There has been a lot of debate on playdates among moms lately. While I've hosted my fair share of playdates from hell, I
honestly think they are an important part of childhood that moms just need to
make happen. So you really, really hate them? Sorry, you need to get over that.
Sure, in a perfect world your kids would just knock on the
neighbor's door and a full-on basketball game would magically break out down
the street. Problem is, this really isn't happening for many of us. While we
had a few kids on our street who were my son's age, they never really seemed to
just be playing outside or just hanging around. And if their moms worked outside
the home (which most of them did) the kids weren't home in the day even
during summer. By the time my youngest was eager to play, we didn't have
any kids on our street who were near her age. Playing with other kids can't
just happen at recess or between heats at the swim meet. Sometimes moms have to
do a little connecting to give kids what older generations took for granted.
2. Family situations have changed
It's part of raising well-rounded, confident and happy kids—and worth all the hassle.
More kids come from split households these days, which makes
the simple act of hanging around with friends more difficult. For kids who
alternate weeks and/or weekends between two different households, it becomes
almost impossible to maintain two separate groups of friends. For moms/stepmoms
it becomes really important for you to plan ahead for friend time when your
child is staying in your home. Feel like this is just one more thing you have
to fit into your already busy schedule? It's part of raising well-rounded,
confident and happy kids—and worth all the hassle.
3. They're good for kids
Even the very worst
playdates offer a learning experience for kids you can't get at judo lessons or
math camp. The give-and-take of getting along and sharing help lay the
groundwork for being able to negotiate relationships as an adult. Sure, you are
opening your home to kids who might not always follow the rules or even be
enjoyable to have around, but your child is watching how you handle these
situations. They're learning life skills like how to turn a bad match into a fun visit by following
your lead. Hang in there, it's good for them.
4. 'But I hate planning
them. Seriously.' You don't have to.
So what if they are
great for kids? If you hate playdates, you might love this idea. "There's
just no denying that playdates are good for kids. They provide a creative
outlet that allows them to explore who they are and afford them the opportunity
to make mistakes and keep trying," shares Nichole Beaudry, mother of two and mom.me contributor.
the planning for playdates can often take longer than the playdate even lasts.
My business partner and friend Cam Bowman and I believe that what matters most
is the fun, so we created Avery & Austin so that moms can skip the work
that leads up to a playdate. We love dreaming up the activities, packing them
up and shipping them off so that moms can just savor those big smiles. Kids
don't care who planned the activities … they only care that they have a mom who
provides the fun opportunity. And that's what matters most, isn't it?"
Pre-planned activities might save your sanity when the going gets tough.
Who needs a plan?
Sometimes playdates that are left open-ended are best. If the kids are having
fun, playing well and not whining about being bored, then let it ride. Some
of our best playdates have involved nothing more than a hose, a sandbox, a tub
full of plastic animals, a few shovels and some popsicles.
However you make it
work, playdates are just an important part of childhood—even if they are a
pain in the butt for moms.