Playdates are every parent’s staple for when the school holidays come around. They help to expend restless, youthful energies and at the same time, consolidate the social skills they learn in school.
But playdates can also be a tricky situation — not for the child, but for the parent.
Mismatched expectations and different home cultures are just some curveballs that could be thrown your way, before you even blink.
The last thing you want is to have to deal with an irate parent or a full-blown conflict. What are some of the more prudent steps you should observe when there is a playdate on the horizon?
Playdate etiquette: useful tips for parents
1. Ask about adult supervision
Whether your child is being invited over, or whether you are the one hosting, it is important to understand what the other parent’s expectations are rather than assuming.
Just because you are okay with leaving your child with your helper while you run errands doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent feels the same way, for example. Ask and understand the expectations beforehand to avoid inadvertently stepping on any toes.
Similarly, if your child is being invited over for a sleepover, you should ask who will be supervising the sleepover. If you are not comfortable with males supervising, you can still back out gracefully before you agree.
2. Establish dietary guidelines
Don’t be a food nazi parent.
Do ask about food if your child has certain food sensitivities or tends to be picky. Let the other parents know what foods to avoid — the last thing you want is an allergy outbreak because you forgot to inform the other parent.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a food nazi and dictate exactly what your child should eat. Respect the other parent and make things comfortable for her, within wide boundaries.
3. Pay for your child
If the kids are heading out for their playdate — say to a trampoline park or a zoo, do remember to give money to your child or to the parent if she is not mature enough to safeguard her money yet. Not just for entrance fees, but for meals and other miscellaneous items they might need along the way.
Some parents are happy to foot the bill for everyone, but it would be foolish to assume that the supervising parent should foot the bill without asking.
Paying for your child ensure she gets invited to future playdates too! No one wants to invite a free-loader.
4. Stay and chat
Putting in the effort to chat with the other parent, especially during the first playdate eases everyone into the situation.
If you are inviting the kids over to your house for the first time, do invite the child’s parent in for a chat over a drink and some snacks.
This allows the other parent to have a peek into your house and feel comfortable knowing the environment he is placed in. If your kid’s companion is a bit shy, having mummy with him during the initial stages also will help ease him into the playdate.
If you are the one whose kid has been invited to someone else’s house for a playdate, do not overstay your welcome. Once you have established that everything looks fine, don’t linger unnecessarily. The host parent might be in the middle of something or just needs to get back to juggling mummy duties.
5. Do not micro-manage
So you are the kind of parent who feeds only organic, limits screen time stringently and only has ‘educational toys’ in the house. Yes, you only want to do what is best for your child, but you will have to understand that your rules will be bent and broken to varying extents, and there is nothing you should do about it — at least during a playdate.
If you send your child off on a playdate, the supervising parent has the responsibility of caring for your child in the way that he or she knows best. It would be considered very rude to dictate what the other parent should or should not do.
Let your child get away with these small stuff — it’s just an occasional playdate.
So the next time your child gets invited to a playdate, remember these five golden rules and the invitations should keep coming!
What are your own playdate etiquette tips? Do share them with us in a comment below.
Also READ: Why you should let your kid play in the dirt
Read more related articles here: Parenting & Play by Friso