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8 Simple Rules for Playdating My Toddler

Portrait of infant girl playing on floor in living room
Photograph by Getty Images

If there can be a book and TV show about rules for dating your teenage daughter, there should definitely be rules for playdating my toddler. Let’s face it, there are a lot more variables at play with kids than with teenagers. But don’t worry, this isn't about you—it’s about me (and my sanity.)

Well, OK, that’s a lie. It’s about you, too. You see, I don’t want you to outshine me. I can’t have my child coming home bragging about the amazing play date they had with you and your kid. I mean, I want them to have fun, sure, but not so much fun that I then become the boring mom. You see what I’m saying? I swear to abide by these rules, too. They’re pretty simple…

1. You may not take my child on some super fun excursion that makes her want to spend time with you instead of me.

If your day is full of to-do items such as play at the water park, visit the train museum, and then top it all off with an $18 ice cream cone that’s going to send them into a sugar coma, I’m afraid my child suddenly just got a little *ahem* cough, and isn’t feeling too well.

RELATED: I Don't Want to Have a Play Date With Your Sensitive Kid

2. You may not make fancy/cute/fun/Pinterest-worthy snacks or food that I will be unable or unwilling to recreate.

My time as a working mother is limited, and I’m also not very creative when it comes to cooking. So please, just stick with goldfish and graham crackers. If you want to go crazy, ants on a log are also fine.

3. You may not having fancy schmancy toys that I will then be forced to buy.

Let’s stick to good old-fashioned blocks and Legos or something. I already have a mini trampoline and playhouse that gets limited use as it is. Actually, if you want either of those, maybe we can make a trade…

In effect, treat them like they’re your own while they’re under your supervision.

4. You may not keep the play date if your child has gotten sick since we scheduled it.

For the love of all, if your little one is sick, please tell me. This is not one of those, “Misery loves company” issues. If the plague is going around, I’d like to stay away from it for as long as possible.

5. You may not have a child that bullies, hits, or belittles.

Let’s all be friends and raise kids who aren’t mean to other kids. It’s like, a mom pact that needs to be made worldwide. If my child comes home crying because little Timmy said that she’s a girl and isn’t allowed to play with dinosaurs and you backed up that notion, then sorry, but all future play dates are off the table.

6. You must discipline my child if they’re being a butthead.

It happens, I get it. Please don’t scream, yell or spank. But if they’re, sassing, not sharing, or being too wild, feel free to stick them in a time out and give them the ol’ “Listen and obey” routine. If all else fails, threaten to call me.

RELATED: Hey Parent at the Playground, Don't Make Me Discipline Your Kid!

7. You must not allow them to do any “firsts” while they are on your play date.

If I find out my kid swam by themselves for the first time, read their first words, or faced a huge fear and ended up being happy about it, I won’t be thrilled. I realize this is a hard rule to maintain, so if it happens, at least try to get video of it so I can pretend I was there.

8. You may not let harm befall my child.

Also a hard one to abide by. I mean, my babysitter dislocated my arm when I was six years old. I get it, accidents happen. Just don’t let them go cliff diving or do gymnastics off the trampoline. In effect, treat them like they’re your own while they’re under your supervision. If they survive, all’s well that ends well.

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