From my limited experience with playdates & birthday parties, I have realised that there are basically two approaches to this potential mine field.
- You are the type of parent who will ‘drop &run’ (D&R). i.e. You drop you child off at the playdate and leave.
- You stay for the duration of the playdate.
Now you might think it’s simple enough but both approaches have a number of variations and other issues to consider.
Some of the reasons why some parents opt for the D&R approach are:
- You have things to do and are happy your child won’t have to be dragged along
- You weren’t invited to stay by the hosting parent.
- You have more than one child and the other child(ren) wasn’t invited.
- You know the family very well and are comfortable with the care they will provide to your child, but you’re not really friends.
- You work
Some of the reasons you ‘Stay & Play’ (S&P) at the playdate are:
- Your child is too young to be left with other people
- You are worried your child might destroy the host’s house
- You don’t trust anyone with your child.
Personally I fall into both these categories.
Well I am more likely to fall into the second category, that of a ‘S&P’ kinda mom.
I am deeply distrustful of other people, but also feel I need to make sure my kids behave correctly.
My eldest (5) has only recently started having actual playdates with her bff at their house, maybe only in the last 6 months. The only way this happens is if her friend’s mother is there the entire time. They are lovely people who have the same expectations as us; that the mother of the child will be there the whole time, as a minimum. We also keep each other informed of any changes to plans in terms of pick-up times, or “We’re going for an ice-cream before we drop her off, is that okay?” – never just assuming.
I would not leave my youngest (3) at someone else’s house for a playdate. It just won’t happen.
Two years ago, we had only been living in our ‘latest’ home for three months when it came time to host my daughter’s 4th birthday party. I was only 3 weeks post-op from my first Total Hip Replacement surgery and had my mom staying with us to help with the girls. We decided to host the party at the local Spur (family friendly restaurant that caters for children and birthday parties) but at this point I hadn’t met ANY of the other parents and so naturally I expected the mom’s to stay and was quite prepared to pay for their coffees or whatever.
Not ONE parent stayed.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. These people did not know me. The party was at a public venue. Their children were only 3/4 years old.
Thank goodness my mom was there. Not just for the help with physically looking after eight little girls, but for the company. It was chaos and a little overwhelming.
With all the will inside me I have tried not to judge those people, but I would never have done that. Even if I wasn’t invited to stay, I’d have stayed anyway sitting at a separate booth by myself, if that’s what was necessary.
I have since met a lot of these moms and become good friends with some of them, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. I do understand now that this is a very small town.
Most people here have known each other since they were at school together, and there is an ‘old-fashioned’ automatic trust in each other that I just don’t have – chalk it up to getting the No. 63 bus through Peckham in London for four years! Whatever! I just don’t trust strangers, especially not with my children.
I guess if I were still living back in my home-town and had never left, I might think differently too, and have a different perspective on this issue, but I don’t think so.
To be fair again, a lot of the parents worked and so had no alternative except to D&R or their kids would have missed out.
I’m still not sure.
It takes a lot of trust to put your child in the care of someone else, outside of their school environment.
Anyway, that’s my 2 cents on the issue. Maybe I am too over-protective, but rather that than the alternative which doesn’t bear thinking about.