By Ambrosia Brody of Random Aspects of (My) Life
That first play date can either make or break a mom friendship. The afternoon is like a test run to see how well her kids and your kids play together. It’s also the time to determine if you two have anything in common, aside from being moms.
On a personal level, I’ve had a few play dates that have bombed because I realized there is absolutely no way I can be friends with, let alone tolerate some women. And I’m sure many can say the same for me, and I’m 100 percent okay with that. Of course, there are some moms you have to play nice with since you run in similar circles and the kids have become BFFs; that’s called being courteous. But don’t force yourself to like someone.
When it’s your turn to host a play date, here are some guidelines to make sure it’s the first and last time anyone will ask to come to your house. After all, some moms are made to play host, and some just aren’t.
Don’t clean – anything!: Remember those grains of rice and chunks of applesauce your kids tossed off their plates at dinner last night? Leave those half-eaten morsels on the floor. Let the kids eat Cheerios on the couch or a cupcake in the playroom. Watch as they stomp Goldfish crackers and leave a trail of crumbs behind as they run from room to room. You’ll thank them later when your visitors say their goodbyes, all while wiping their kids’ hands with baby wipes and removing half-eaten bits of food from their hair/knees/mouth/hands.
Kick back: Take a seat on the couch. Then stay there. The whole time. Some parents may join you on the sofa as the kids tear up your place, but there are parents who prefer to actually know what their child is doing in a stranger’s house.
Visitor: “Is it really okay for them to climb the kitchen counter?”
You: “Oh sure, my kids do it all the time. We’re on a first name basis with our local hospital.” *snort laugh*
Too much of a neat freak to let food hit the floor? Having trouble letting the kids rule the house? Then practice the other extreme and be Miss Anal (no, not that anal; be extremely clean and careful). Follow the guests around everywhere they go with a baby wipe or Purell. Don’t let anything touch the carpet, and make sure to purchase some of those shoe covers just in case. Yes, be that annoying host.
You: “Now now, we can’t eat without napkins Billy/Susie/Ben. Cleanliness is close to godliness, after all.”
Always have a drink in hand: The whole time you’re entertaining, have a glass of wine, a mimosa, vodka and cranberry, or whatever your libation of choice in one hand. And never put it down, even when you’re running after little Johnny who is chasing the dog with the scissors or when you’re trying to calm down your daughter because her new friend refuses to give back her favorite doll. Just sip away.
Feel free to double fist it to pack that extra punch. However, an intervention may be staged if the visiting mom is the do-gooder type.
Or don’t offer any wine. That will keep moms away.
Offer a not so warm greeting: The second you hear the door bell, start yelling at the kids.
“You better shut it and not act a fool in front of our visitors or you’re gonna get it tonight!”
Then plaster on a fake smile and use your extra syrupy-sweet voice when you open the door.
“Hi, new mom friend! Come in, come in, and make yourself comfortable. We’ve been looking forward to seeing you all day!”
Make it an everyone’s-welcome affair: The more the merrier, right? Some moms are better in small group settings; others prefer one-on-one interaction. But no one likes to be thrown into a situation unprepared. For that reason, let the neighbor from down the street bring her three kids. You know, the ones who are prone to biting and throwing dirt? Also, let your uber-hyper-sensitive work friend come over with her toddler who she’d keep in a bubble if possible. While it’s nice to make friends with various moms, it’s usually more pleasant to spend time with those who share commonalities. Inviting a mom who can’t play well with others to group events is a sure way to keep other moms away.
Don’t play referee: Your kid just pinched her kid, the boy is refusing to share, or the kids are going at it first with little squabbles followed by a full-blown fight? Ignore it. Your mantra for the afternoon: “They’ll work it out.”
Snacks? What snacks?: Oh right, hosting means having child-friendly snacks at the ready to help when kids needs to be distracted or redirection is needed. Plus, kids get hangry and can be hellions when not fed every 2 seconds.
You: “Oops, so sorry, I forgot to go to the story. Are prunes okay? I know I have some kidney beans around here somewhere …”
Don’t extend the offer in the first place: If you are not the hosting type, don’t pretend to be. There is nothing wrong with preferring to have a play date at a park or at someone else’s place. Hosting can be stressful. But if you feel you need to play the part, keep this list at the ready.
Follow these guidelines, and I guarantee you’ll never have to deal with the dreaded play date again.
About the Author
Ambrosia Brody is a full-time editor, journalist and mother to two spirited daughters. She lives in Southern California in a beach city but hates the sand; enjoys people watching but hates small talk. She started to blog at Random Aspects of (My) Life when she realized everything she knew about parenting was wrong. Connect with her on her blog, Facebook or on Twitter.