If you have a child in elementary school, there’s a good chance you’ve set up at least one play date. If you never have, take notes! Or as I usually prefer to say: WRITE THIS SHIT DOWN! Or I guess you could copy and paste it. Or “share” it, I’ll give you the stupid little buttons at the end. You could always print this post, then light it on fire! Either way, read on…
I put together this list of DOs and DON’Ts for those of you who might be tentatively wading into these waters for the first time.. or maybe just for a giggle for you seasoned parents. Enjoy!
- DO Make it clear (subtly of course) that the invitation is for the kid, and the parent need not stay or feel obligated to hang out for a while. Drop the kid off and GO!
- DO be fair to both kids, and make sure you are treating them exactly alike. Make sure they are treating each other well also, don’t ignore a bratty bossy rant because “it’s not your place”.
- DO reciprocate invitations. Don’t let XYZ parent invite your kid over 3 times before you pick up the phone and do so yourself. The way that this relationship works is: you give them an afternoon off, they give you an afternoon off, you host a sleepover and give them a WHOLE night off, you eventually get a glorious kid-free night yourself!
- DO check in often. It’s tempting to let them hide out in your kid’s bedroom and play for long stretches of time without bothering them. Don’t let too much time slip by, you never know what the hell they could be up to. It’s worth popping your head in for a quick “hey how’s everything going?”
- DO be a “cool” parent. Not TOO cool, but join in on a game of Just Dance now and then, or be the Twister spinner/caller, suggest really fun activities, etc. My theory is that you want to have the house that other kids like hanging out at. When they get older, this will be a trusty tool for maintaining a close relationship with your own kid.
There are some major mistakes I’ve made, which I will try to help you avoid:
- DO NOT talk about the kid’s parent in front of them. Actually, don’t talk about ANYTHING in front of them because that little snitch will go home and spill your beans then the next thing you know XYZ parent will start giving you sideways looks next time they see you.
- DO NOT talk about how annoying the other kid is in front of yours. Again, kids are snitches and will expose you!
- DO NOT be afraid to say NO. I used to be extra gentle with other people’s kids, now I know better and don’t allow any getting-over-on-me. No extra snacks, no obnoxious behavior, no clean-up refusal, etc.
- DO NOT lie to the kid’s parents about what kind of time they had. If your kid and their kid battled it out like stupid anime characters, for God’s sake tell XYZ parent! Don’t feel like they had to have gotten along famously, sometimes it’s just not gonna happen with a particular kid.
- DO NOT invite the same kid over every time. Switch it up, expand the circle of friends.. this is how my daughter has decided who her closest friends are and is grateful for the fresh faces.
I’m still figuring this crap out of course.. every once in a while I’ll get hit with a situation that leaves me scratching my head going WTF just happened? One of these days I’ll tell you about the embarrassing raving mad email I sent to parent who hosted a slumber party last week about monitoring their kid’s internet usage. That was a MISTAKE!!!