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Unplanned Playdate Over at My House? Nope

Photograph by Twenty20

We are fortunate to have a number of families with young children in our neighborhood. We've had a chance to get to know the parents. And our daughter gets along well and loves to play with the other kids. In fact, any time we pass their homes, via car, foot or bike, she wants to stop by for a play date.

Right. That. Moment.

I am not comfortable knocking on another mom's door uninvited. What if she just got a baby down for a nap? Or is finally getting to take a shower? Maybe she is rushing to get out the door for an appointment and has finally managed to corral the kids and all their stuff. Maybe she just started cooking dinner.

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I can think of a ton of reasons why an unexpected ring of the doorbell would be unwelcome by a fellow mom. Frankly, I'm not keen on the idea of someone showing up at my door unannounced with her kid either.

So I insist on scheduling mutually agreed-upon playtimes. I email, Facebook message or text the other moms in advance to find out a good time. Sometimes we leave it open-ended, as in, they will be around Saturday if we want to stop by. Other times it is very specific—her child can play Wednesday at 3 for about an hour before soccer.

I insist on scheduling mutually agreed-upon playtimes.

Whatever the arrangement, I make sure it works for both of us.

I also make sure we reciprocate. When my daughter gets to play at another child's home, we extend an invitation for that friend to come to our house. Sometimes, since the homes are just down the street, we do a rotating play date, where each child spends time playing in the other's home on the same day.

I am thrilled there are kids close by for my daughter to play with. She is an only child and, while we enjoy spending family together, let's be honest, parents aren't always the most fun play mates. Plus, sometimes I don't want to bet the sole source of my child's entertainment. Getting to interact with other adults is important to me.

But I have never allowed my child to just walk up to one of her friend's homes and ring the doorbell. I'll make an exception if a family is outside in their front yard or driveway playing or doing yard work. Then we walk up and if it's OK with them, let the kids play for a bit.

I have never allowed my child to just walk up to one of her friend's homes and ring the doorbell.

She knows not to go inside the house unless the homeowner says it is OK, and I know the parents well enough they are comfortable saying so if it is not the best time.

Those are my rules. My husband, on the other hand, thinks nothing of stopping by others' homes. If he and my daughter are out walking the dog or riding bikes, he lets her knock on a friend's door.

He has done this repeatedly, despite my objections. One time, they went out with the dog after dinner and were gone for an hour. It was getting close to bed time, my child needed to shower and was a school night. So I texted him:

"Where are you? Is everything OK?"

"We're at (neighbors') house. The kids are playing."

"Get. Home. NOW!"

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I don't know how the other parents feel about these drop-ins. But it makes me uncomfortable. (Not to mention, I am a stickler for our daughter's bedtime routine.)

To me, there are unwritten rules about showing up at another mom's home. Or should be. But maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong.

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