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Playdates Are Worth the Pain

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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. Here's why.

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1. Neighborhoods are different now

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.

"But 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.

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5. Or throw out the plan

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.

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