A father and blogger at DadNCharge says we should ban the playdate. Whaaaat?
First of all, DadNCharge is picking apart the term “play date” and taking the name waaaay too literally. A play date is an arranged appointment for children to get together for a few hours to play. With parents’ busy schedules, a play date is merely a way to schedule a chunk of time for your kid to play with another kid. Simple!
“There was no pre-scheduling get togethers at each other’s homes. Playdates didn’t exist,” DadNCharge says.
Sure play dates didn’t happen because back then, kids were home all summer long. Many mothers were homemakers when we were little, leaving kids home with their moms all summer long to play and be bored and hang out with friends. I remember in our neighbourhood, we were outside from morning till dusk.
How it was when we were kids
We would play outside all day and hide and seek in the evening with all the kids in the area, until the street lights came on. We’d be hopping fences from house to house, going from one house to another just to have a popsicle or freezie and back outside ready for a new game or adventure. Side screen doors were always open, unlocked. The only time we’d go inside was for dinner and then we’d be outside once again.
How it is today
Nowadays, parents have busy schedules and usually both parents are working jobs. Parents today are much busier than when we were kids. You don’t know if children are spending summers at home or in camps or in daycare. It’s easier to set up a date and time to accommodate busy schedules, just as we do with our own friends. Sadly our over-scheduled lives have trickled onto our children too.
“This playdate garbage is ruining our kids. I shudder every time someone asks me if our kids can have a playdate together,” DadNCharge says.
To ask if one child is free to get together with another child should not be a huge deal. No, it doesn’t have to be an “event”. Simply change out the word play date to “hang out” – is that better?
Kids want their friends to come over and hang out? No problem. As long as they get along, there isn’t any constant arguing – be our guest.
Now that my kids are older and they want friends over, I don’t have to organize activities minute by minute. It’s not a birthday party – it’s a play date. There won’t be an hour of arts and crafts followed by an hour of snacks and cupcake decorating – unless hey, you like to schedule activities for your kids! Totally up to you.
For me, it’s enough that I’m allowing your friend(s) to come over. Once they come over, go off and play!
Play dates for younger kids
When it comes to younger kids under 4, a scheduled play date could also mean the parent will want to stick around. Younger children may have separation anxiety and are not ready for drop-off play dates quite yet. So yes that often means your preschooler will have a friend to play with but you’ll have to offer coffee to the other parent. Some planned activities might also help the kids along – again, it’s up to you as the parent. And if you are having a play date for a younger child, an hour and a half is plenty of time.
But chill out DadInCharge, ok?