Typically, the proper etiquette for playdates is if someone invites you over, we’re expected to reciprocate and invite them over to our house. I really suck at this reciprocal thing. I can’t even tell you how many playdates we owe people. I have lost track. People will say that no one is keeping tabs but we all know that people keep tabs. This also applies to dates with girlfriends and couples for double dating. I’m the worst!
I don’t do this on purpose. Well actually, when it comes to the kids’ playdates I DO do this on purpose. It’s because our house, although not small, does not allow for lots of kid friendly spaces. We recently caved in and bought an Xbox just so we could have some sort of “cool” attraction at our house. Even still, it’s not enough for a really fun playdate. We have no yard so there is no open space to run and play. The people who happen to invite my son over have huge spaces - some with in-home sport courts - some with elevators - some with volleyball space next to their swimming pool - some with all of the above. I’m not saying I’m competing with these mega homes, I’m just saying, where would you rather have a playdate - in a cold basement with an Xbox or on a huge sport court? I’m mindful about our playdate situation and I resort to taking the kids somewhere and letting them have fun in a large environment. Going to Dave & Busters or to our country club to swim in the summer are perfect solutions. However, I’m always busy so this never happens. Hence, the playdate deficit.
Playdates are great because it gets the kids together and the parent that is not hosting gets a hall pass to run an errand or stay home and eat bon bons. Theoretically, it usually works out well because since the kids are playing, the parent who is hosting can get stuff done around the house. Win, win, win. That’s the ideal situation. I’ve had playdates back fire and hosting is actually more work than it’s worth. When I take the kids somewhere instead of letting them play at our house means now I have to give up my time to host and I’ve come to the realization that I’m pretty selfish with my time.
Not that I need another excuse but I also strongly feel like my kids are way too over-scheduled. Even though its good for my kids to socialize, run and play, in this day and age, we have to schedule a playdate. Case and point; the over-scheduled becomes even more scheduled. My kids need to be ok with being bored and they don’t always have to be “on”. If my kids have some down time during a weekend, the last thing I do is schedule a playdate.
When I feel like the deficit gets pretty bad I start to plan outings. I am trying to repay back some long over due playdates - both for kids and adults. This involves calendars, planning, Doodle polls etc. Some thoughtful pinches that I’m using to try to “repay” the playdate debt are: 1) hosting another organic wine tasting event for five lovely ladies who have constantly scooped up my kids for playdates. Let’s just say for every five playdates my kids go over to their house, I have reciprocated once. 2) I have scheduled the first of four Dave & Busters outings in hopes to make up for the lack of coolness at our house. 3) I am planning a couple of double date nights even though they won’t take place for another month or two. By getting something on the calendar lets our friends know that we’re thinking of them. It’s a little trickier to plan double dates because it involves my hub. He likes to socialize but he doesn’t like to take all of our date nights to do so. And I respect that. Plus he is not always in town over the weekends which means that I have to space things out and coordinate. 4) I’m reaching out to some girlfriends to go for walks around the lake instead meeting up for a meal or a drink. These are friends that I’ve needed to catch up with for over a year. These long overdue Walk/Talks are multi-tasking at it’s best.
As for my kids, the best pinch I could give to them is to host a sleepover, which is the ultimate playdate for a kid. However, I can’t take any chances having my soon-to-be thirteen year old, unpredictable dog around kids these days. We usually keep him in our room while kids are over, but this would mean putting him up in a dog kennel for the day/night. Although this takes some minor planning, I just don’t like kenneling up my dog. When it comes to sleepovers, I chose him over my kids. I have considered planning a sleepover at a hotel that has a pool or a water park. Dog problem solved. Only now I have to give up even more of my time. My kids and my dog are worth it, right?
I guess you can say that I am feeling pretty guilty that I am not so forthcoming with playdate/GNO/double date invitations. I feel like those who can plan these, whether it’s for kids or adults have wonderful time management. Some moms are naturally better at it than I am and I applaud them. Especially the moms who can roll with the spontaneous playdates. I am not very flexible with my free time and I’m not willing to kennel up our dog so it limits a lot of time we can spend at the house. But nonetheless, I am aware of the playdate deficit and I know how I can make it up. It may be years later, but I hope my friends know that I haven’t forgotten to pay them back.