Making Playdates Work for You

December 07, 2017 in #parenting | | | Share on Google+

Last week, I asked for ideas for playdates, as they can be a lot of work to arrange. Veera Mylapore reached out with some really awesome ideas. Here's her guest blog post. I've added some formatting to make it easier to read online.

With an only child, I devote about 23% of my waking hours pursuing the next play date. This also intersects with my need to find fun things to do around town!

Keep casting a wide net

  • I am regularly asking my daughter who she is friendly with and then reaching out to those parents to see if they want to get the kids together.
  • Range of responses occur – no response, yes response – but no follow up, yes response – and follow up. Of the last group, we then start organizing. It takes work and effort and chasing down parents of your kids’ friends at school gatherings like a crazy person to get their contact info.
  • And the venues for making friends is endless – again, I’m that crazy mom asking for contact info everywhere – at summer camp on presentation day, during sports activities, at church, at school, at the playground (when she was younger). Even if there is a speck of connection, get that contact info!
  • Full disclosure: This has changed recently in middle school as she’s pushing back against me organizing playdates and wants to do this herself. Yikes, this is hard transition.

Don’t take anything personally

This goes with the above, everyone is busy, or are less techie, it’s not personal if folks don’t get back to you, just keep casting a wider net. Also, we think our kids are amazing and delightful, and they are, but there has to be a mutual groove.

It’s like dating, treat the kids well when you host

This is sort of for older kids, but I’ve learned (especially having a daughter) that part of what we are modeling in playdates is a) how to treat our friends of course, but also b) how we expect to be treated. For example, if we are asking a kid out to a special event, we pick them up and drop them off at their home. We also pay for the ticket and food/incidentals as we are the inviter. This is personal, I’m sure everyone will do this differently, there’s no rule – but this is not something my family did, but I have found that i enjoy doing it and showing my daughter how we nurture others that we care for.

Relax – it’s no big deal!

This slightly contradicts the above, but I used to worry about hosting and having the right food, a cleaned up house, etc. I have let that go over the years and just had fun. The kids never care – the most important thing is getting them together!

Meet in a neutral location

When I was meeting up with new families, we would often meet in a park or a café. For some, this just feels more comfortable to start the playdates. Especially if you, like me sometimes, can feel shy about having people over to your home when first getting to know a new family.

Feel free to social engineer

I’m sure some would challenge this, but I feel like there is so little time in life that I really focus on the subset of my kids’ friends who have parents with which I can relate and imagine enjoying their company too. This then becomes a double connection and is really fun.

Life goes on

Homework/Instrument practice – if it’s an after-school playdate, I am that annoying mom who forces the kids to do homework before playing (I get sign-off from the friend’s parent first if I’m going to ask them to do hw too). Shockingly, the kids don’t seem to mind and actually I think they have fun doing homework with a pal. I would also (when kid was younger) make her do her instrument practicing before playing with friend. Friend would hang out in living room reading or whatever.

Time matters

We build up friendships from creating shared memories together, so it’s important to not just do one playdate with 20 different kids but rather do regular get togethers with a small group that seem to gel with your kid. And boredom counts, we don’t need to entertain the kids, they can just hang and make up stuff to do themselves.

Hard stuff

  • Playing hard to get – some folks say yes, but don’t follow through. This can be tough, especially for our kids, they get disappointed, as do us parents. I cut this off pretty quickly, because it can be confusing for everyone (breathe and remember to not take it personally)
  • Different scheduling styles – I am a plan ahead person, but I’ve learned that many are really last minute. I try to go with the flow for the sake of my kid cultivating friendships.
  • Balancing it out – I’m kind of a stickler for balancing things out when you do playdates in your home – e.g. trading off playing at each other’s house. This is probably because, if my daughter had her choice, she would always play elsewhere☺ We need to learn how to host and have fun in our home too. And, bigger subject, I think this can be important for socio-economic reasons to show all types of levels of living! Of course, I would never push to have a friend’s family host, this relates more to trying to balance out and offer hosting at our place.


  • Home play dates are always fun and easy – default to this!
  • Parks/Playgrounds – always awesome
  • Overnight or day trip to grandma’s or elsewhere – this has been fun in the past year (maybe for slightly older kids) – inviting a friend for local trip to see family or other stuff. Kids love it. This would come after a long time of getting to know someone, and building up trust with another family, of course.
  • Harvard Women’s Volleyball game – so fun!
  • Ice Skating
  • Movies
  • Rock Climbing
  • Museums
  • Theater
  • Swimming
  • Seasonal events – Revels, A Christmas Carol – Central - Square, Urban Nutcracker

So, how do you make playdates work for you? I'd love to hear your ideas. Write me back. :)

December 07, 2017 in #parenting | | | Share on Google+