parents

10 rules for coming to my house for playdates.

By BERN MORLEY

“Playdates” are quite the common occurrence when you become a parent.

If you’re not familiar with what exactly a ‘playdate ‘ is, basically a scheduled appointment for children to get together and play.

I know what you’re thinking… Since when did kids have to “schedule” an appointment to play? That I can’t answer, but I can tell you that after having endured quite a few of these ‘playdates’ now, I have decided to draw up a few rules that perhaps all parents, myself included, really should adhere to.

I present you with the Playdate Ten Commandments.

1. Thou shalt not linger.

Drop and go parents, just drop and go. I’m not saying push them out while the car is still moving, by all means, come on in. I’m just saying, I do not require you stick around. I say this with love. Listen to me, you have a good 2 – 3 hours to yourself! Go and enjoy it because believe me, when my kid comes around to yours, you won’t even get to see the door hit my arse as I leave. You’re lovely, I like you, but our kids are hanging out and we can talk when you come back to pick him up.

2. Thou shalt reciprocate.

If my child invites your child over to have a play at our place, it’s an unwritten rule that you will, when convenient, return the favour in kind. My child will want to come to your place at some stage in the future plus it’s just the right thing to do, so let’s not make things weird huh?

3. Thou shalt not blow me off the next time you see me at the school gate.

All I’m asking is that the next time we briefly cross paths in the schoolyard, you don’t treat me as if I am either invisible or have leprosy. Our kids just spent a solid Sunday together and you spilled some pretty hefty marital problems my way over coffee when you came to pick him up. All I’m asking is that you don’t be a jerk and acknowledge me when we next see each other in public.

Bern with her kids.

4. Thou shalt not force the situation. 

Understand that our children are friends TODAY. Tomorrow, due to the fickle and transient nature of children, they may not be. If your child is being brought here under sufferance, this probably won’t work. Ditto if you really don’t want them to come around or for whatever reason, dislike my child.

5. Thou will prepare thy child. 

What I mean by this is you will have told your child to help pack up the mess that they help create. That they will use please and thank you when interacting with me, and that they will not harass the family pet in a catatonic state. But also, please prepare them to come and find me if they get scared or if they miss you. Assure them you are only a phone call away.

6. Thou will not dictate the playbook. 

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Please don’t give me a list of things that they cannot do (unless of course there is a potential life threatening reason for this of course). The whole idea is that your child comes here and experiences his friend’s way of life. This may mean that part of the day will include an intense Minecraft session. It will also probably mean that they go outside and kick a ball around for quite a bit. If we as parents keep it simple, this really shouldn’t be a big deal. Please know that I am not going to be orchestrating the whole day and will be pretty much, other than feeding them, leaving them to their own devices. Pun fully intended.

7. Thou shalt eat what is offered to them. 

Unless your child has major allergies or dietary requirements, I will assume that they will eat whatever my child eats. This will include but not be limited to something healthy and then probably, because I’m incredibly wacky, something not so healthy, like a lollypop or shock horror, buttered popcorn. If you only ever feed your child kale chips and quinoa porridge, then you might want to avert your eyes for a couple of hours. Or alternatively, let your kid live a little.

8. Thou shalt not be a little shit. 

If your child threatens my child with the old “if you don’t let me have the first go I’ll go home” chestnut, I will indeed give him the option to give you a call and yes, go on home. If they are rude to me, same goes. I would hope you would do the same if my child was being a brat at your place

9. Thou shalt be on time. 

Look, I know, I live in a big city, traffic is unpredictable and stuff sets you back. I’m not talking about your run of the mill 30 minutes late here. I mean, if you arrange to drop your child off at 10:30 and then rock on up at 2pm, I will be, if I’m even still here, rather short with you. I’ve heard of situations where parents fail to turn up at all and don’t even bother with a courtesy call.

10. Thou shalt not make me the bad guy. 

You cannot drop your child here and then tell me that because they’re in trouble, they won’t actually be able to do anything fun because you want to turn my house into an extension of your punishment. No, it is not my job to be the punisher. Nor is it fair to cancel the plans when your child acts up 30 minutes before the set time. I get it, we’ve both been using the play date as behaviour currency all week but the only person you are hurting here is my child who is eagerly awaiting your arrival.

Lastly, can we stop calling them play dates? When did we go from a scenario where our kids just hung out after school or on the weekend to having to plan a day with military precision and an accompanying itinerary? Can’t we just ask, “Hey, wanna come over my place on Saturday?” Can’t that just be what we do?

Do you have any further commandments to add? Have you had any unusual experiences when your child went over to their friend’s house for a play?