Parent or PA?

The Playdate. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, isn’t it? Yet another one for the growing list of tasks of the 21st century parent. Not only do we now schedule our kids’ social calendars like PAs but we must invite someone else’s child into our home and oversee the proceedings like a watchful schoolmarm, instead of just sending our kids into the street to play like our parents did. They had it easy. They didn’t investigate, vet or chaperone, they just let us off with the assumption we’d return when we got hungry.

Playdate Panic

The term can conjure up fear and panic in any parent. The responsibility for ensuring the safety of someone else’s child combined with the new social dynamic under your own roof can make for a minefield of potential challenges. When we go blindly into a playdate we have no way of knowing how it will play out and whether or not personalities will clash. Things can be easy or very, very difficult with success hinging on the temperament of the guest and the chemistry between the ‘daters’. When it goes well, it’s a thing of beauty; kids harmoniously enjoying a shared interest and playing peaceably can give you the warm and fuzzies like a good episode of First Dates. On other occasions, however, it would be easier to host Milania and Michelle for an afternoon.

Forewarned is Forearmed

playdate Wouldn’t it take the edge off the anxiety a bit if potential guests came with a heads-up from someone in the know? If we knew in advance that Johnny wasn’t the kind of kid who would rummage in your kitchen presses, snatch snacks off the toddler, whizz all over your bathroom floor and decapitate a Lottie doll? Wouldn’t it be nice to know beforehand that his parents aren’t the type to send him to your home with a mystery rash or head-lice?

If these playdate requests were accompanied by references then we would know exactly what we were getting and we could assess the risk to our homes and mental health before committing.

Letter of Recommendation

To whom it may concern:

It is my pleasure to write this letter of recommendation for Johnny as he seeks invitations to further playdates in the locality. I’ve had six-year-old Johnny in my home on two recent occasions and can attest to his mannerly disposition, his ability to share, and his aptitude for interactive play. 

Allow me to point out some further examples of Johnny’s strengths: 
  • Johnny actively contributed to the playdate in a very positive way. He played with Lego with quiet determination and his creations were commendable. Unlike my own son, he remained unfazed by the fact that a large volume of the pieces were missing. 
  • Johnny engaged in none of the following: biting; pushing; shouting; taunting; sulking; swearing; interfering with the goldfish or locking himself into the downstairs bathroom.  
  • Johnny does not have any special dietary requirements. He smilingly accepted snacks and did not complain about the appearance, smell or taste of any food items he was offered.
  • He did not compare the size of our house to his own, nor did he comment on my housekeeping, despite his obvious dust allergy. 
  • At no point did Johnny use the word ‘bored’ or any variation thereof. 
  • Throughout the playdate Johnny operated at a satisfactory noise level and on no occasion used a tone which could be described as whiny or annoying. He was happy to play both outdoors and indoors and he did not speak disparagingly about the limited garden space, something previous guests have struggled with. 
  • Johnny did not break any toys, either on purpose or accidentally. 
  • Johnny did not cause any injuries, either on purpose or accidentally. 
  • Johnny did not crack the cistern cover, either on purpose or accidentally. 
  • Johnny did not slice my new Karen Millen coat with the craft scissors, either on purpose or accidentally. 
  • Johnny did not draw the outline of Danger Mouse on the TV screen with Pritt-Stick, either on purpose or accidentally. 
  • At no point did Johnny scale the garden wall and enter the neighbour’s property in pursuit of a frog. 
  • Johnny did not hack at the toddler’s plastic tunnel with a toy knife in the manner of Norman Bates. 
  • He did not spiral into a tantrum on losing a particularly competitive game of Monopoly Junior, nor did he throw the Guess Who character boards against the kitchen wall in a fit of rage. 
  • Johnny does not need assistance in the bathroom and has no apparent issues with aim. 
  • He does not have parents whose faces twitch on hearing that he ate refined sugar and watched three episodes of Rescue Bots. 
  • When it was time to leave, Johnny did not hide in the garden shed, thus disturbing a wasps’ nest. 
Overall I found Johnny’s energy and enthusiasm to be a wonderful addition to the dynamic in our home and I can confirm with confidence that he will make a positive contribution to any social situation.  My family and I wish Johnny every success in his future playdate endeavors.

Kind regards,

Jake’s mum.

Handy, eh? Do you think a little heads-up would go a long way? Have you any play-date experiences to share? I’d love to hear about them in comments below.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental. For the most part.
Wouldn't it take the edge off the anxiety a bit if potential play-date guests came with a letter of recommendation or a warning?

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112 Comments

  1. My daughter is 19 months old. She’s only been on a handful of play dates. We’ve always met somewhere else, like the library, rather than going to another child’s home or having them at our house. At least, that way, I don’t have to clean up before the play date begins! #DreamTeam

  2. Oh my fricking Hallejuah!!! YES, YES, YES! How do we implement such a thing? Loved it, especially the parents don’t twitch from refined sugar and 3 episodes of TV. Hahahahahahaha. #DreamTeam

    • Sinéad Reply

      I get so scared about the sugar thing when kids are over Selena! 🙂 Glad you got a chuckle!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Hah, Laura! I find the utility room to be the perfect spot for secret chocolate eating, Laura! Good to know we’re all kind of the same… well most of us! 😉

  3. OMG I LOVE this – totally had me chuckling. I think playdates should come with letters of recommendation, stat. Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub lovely xoxo

    • Sinéad Reply

      Nothing like a bit of hyperbole to get some giggles, Talya! 🙂 So glad you liked it!

  4. Ah this is hilarious! This so should be a thing, although I’m not sure how many invites my two would get to places if it was a thing? *considers this*… probably best that this isn’t a thing! 😉 Love it!! Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x
    Rhyming with Wine recently posted…The rise and fall of Supermum.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Yes, actually, now that you mention maybe we need to rein it in a bit! Lol…

  5. HAHA this is hilarious! Thankfully we haven’t really had many playdates with children who aren’t my friends children, so they already know what my kids are like. It’s the school playdates I’m dreading, when “normal” families realise that my children aren’t your average child! #PoCoLo
    five little doves recently posted…A letter to myself on my 17th birthday

  6. Our usual playdates are with my close friends children. So we don’t really care about the state of each others homes. Just that there is food (just about) and wine, the rest sorts itself out. lol #twinklytuesday

    • Sinéad Reply

      Ah yeah! The old vino goes a long way in these situations! Lol…

  7. Properly funny! I was sniggering away at this post! When my two have playdates at home I do like performing the patient Mum voice (you know the one used in the supermarket) and then seeing my kids bemused expressions that I’m not usually nearly so accommodating. “Of course I’ll get down the old crappy lego from the highest shelf for your to scatter in the lounge before going upstairs and decimating you bedroom into ‘dens’!”……. #fridayfrolics

    • Sinéad Reply

      Hah! Yup, I know that voice and my kids are equally bewildered to hear in within the confines of our home!

  8. Our biggest problem seems to be arranging them in the first place as every kid seems to have some kind of sport/after school club every single night of the week. On the rare occasions I have managed to arrange something there have been no end of arguments about whose turn it is on the PlayStation, who pushed over whose model first, who isn’t playing the game properly, I’ve had cooked spaghetti eaten with hands and spread all over the table, wee all over the bathroom floor, toys hidden behind the bath … I could go on but I think you get the idea. None of this happened when I was little, we just went out, or played nicely in each other’s rooms. It’s like kids have forgotten how to play together!
    #FabFridayPost
    Alana – Burnished Chaos recently posted…Words To Live By #13: Place One Block

    • Sinéad Reply

      Totally, Alana! And the more we organise the worse it gets, I reckon. I don’t think we knew what boredom was when I was little. (I sound like an auld one now, don’t I? :))

  9. Oh, I think I could handle Johnny coming round! He sounds lovely. Thankfully we’ve not yet entered the playdate stage yet (which is good, as my son is not yet what you’d call ‘a sharer’!) Maybe by the time I get there this will have been implemented! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      If we could get Johnny every time, eh!? Or if we thought that our own might behave a bit like Johnny when somewhere else… ????

  10. Hilarious! The playdate etiquette is such a minefield. I find food is often an issue – my kids are constantly ravenous, and their friends all seem incredibly fussy eaters.

    #abloggingoodtime

    • Sinéad Reply

      The food thing kills me – both here and and when mine are somewhere else! Mine could easily turn their noses up at something on a play date and be a bit too honest! Morto!

  11. Allllllll kids need this. Although I dread to think what my sons might say. That Norman Bates made me laugh out loud! #FridayFrolics

    • Sinéad Reply

      Such a shame it’s not exaggerated, Helen! Thanks for reading! ????

  12. YES! We need to get that passed as law. I only agree to playdates when they are not at MY house! Last time we had a playdate the kid refused to eat anything that they were offered. Despite me checking with the mum that they liked said food. All they ate was a bowl of tomatoes. That was slightly awkward explaining that one… #FridayFrolics

    • Sinéad Reply

      Good plan, Emma about not hosting them at your house! A bowl of tomatoes is quite random! lol…

    • Sinéad Reply

      And I wish you luck! Ah it’s not that bad really. Lovely to see them having little buddies and common interests. Adorable really. Thanks for reading!

  13. I’ve spent many Fridays over the last four years thinking “I need to start an anonymous blog about playdates” – thank you for letting me live vicariously through yours 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have put my name to this one! Hope they invites don’t dry up! Lol

  14. Yes, a heads up would be good. Most of N’s have been fine, and most have been with the mum anyway because they’re friends of mine, but we have had 1 where the pair of them emptied N’s room of books, toys and bed linen and brought it all downstairs without us noticing. It took 20 minutes to remove it all again. And the last one I picked up a friend’s daughter after school because they were late getting there. Then found the pair of them up in N’s room pretty much in pants only. Her mum said she wasn’t surprised, but let’s hope that’s the end of that before they get too much older. #sharingthebloglove

  15. I’m yet to get to the play dates stage and right now I cant think of anything worse than two hyper kids running around making a mess of everything!! Ive only just become able to cope with the constant toys in view at home let alone broken toys and potential tears from the one hurting the other one. DREADING IT!!! hahaa #PoCoLo

    • Sinéad Reply

      It’s AMAZING how much my standards have dropped in the past year or two. Toys used to get put away out of sight at 7pm and the house would be reclaimed. I don’t have the energy anymore and there’s just SO. MUCH. STUFF! I end up sharing the couch with Transformers and Furbys regardless of whether the kids are around or not. It’s only for a couple of years – that’s what I keep telling myself!

  16. Oh this is just perfect on every level! Can you imagine?! I think it’s got legs though – playdates are sooooooo stressful! I love them when the parents stay though – but when you have the kids on their own – this is when this letter is needed! Brilliant! Though I’m think gin some mums may need to come with references too! #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. Haha, before my girls started school, I used to go to a play group once a week and also have regular play dates with my friends and their children. Unfortunately, all of the children go to different schools now so the chance to see one another doesn’t crop up very often. With those play dates the parents always stayed as we were all friends. A few weeks ago the girls were invited over a school friends house for tea and the girls mum asked if my girls would be ok without me there. It didn’t even cross my mind that I wouldn’t stay too! Haha! I ended up staying because at four years old I don’t see the need for me not to be there, but I guess we’re all different! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    • Sinéad Reply

      I always think it’s lovely to be able to stay too, especially when they aren’t at school yet. Thanks for reading.

    • Sinéad Reply

      Yeah, playdates are lovely most of the time to be fair. I love staying too. It’s only this year with my six-year-old that he has really done the solo thing. Hard to let go too! 🙁

  18. Oh my goodness, Alice went on her first playdate after school last week and I am now in a position where we have to invite them back. I wonder what I will get turning up at our house?? Thankfully Alice was an angel and did us proud. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x
    Laura – Dear Bear and Beany recently posted…Growing Up…The Ordinary Moments

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw I hope I haven’t put you off! For the most part they are all like Johnny! 🙂 Yay Alice!

  19. Oh goodness me, this is tough. At the moment playdates as an excuse for me and my single mum friend round the corner to share a bottle of prosecco whilst our two year olds ignore each other and play with duplo or dolls at different ends of the room. Thanks for the giggles. Pen x #blogstravaganza
    Pen recently posted…How do you promote your blog posts?

    • Sinéad Reply

      I am LOVING the sound of your playdates, Pen! That’s how it’s done! 🙂

  20. Yes to all of this! I find the public parenting in your own house the hardest part. We had a very sweet girl here on a play date once, she clearly came from a far more civilised family than ours. When my husband shouted at our youngest, who was chasing his sister with a shovel, she looked aghast. ‘I never thought ye were the kind of family that shout’ she said ‘I still like ye but I’m just surprised’
    I was MORTIFIED…my husband was less so, play dates are hard!!
    Life on Hushabye Farm recently posted…Meal Plan Monday| What We Eat

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw that’s gas, Elizabeth! You were shamed! Hang that head good and low! Lol!

  21. Haha Oh I think Johnny and Ethan would get along with each other just fine. They are about the same age and their similarities are almost the same. In fact, we are having a playdate soon – would you like to join us? 😉 x

    Thank you so much for linking with us on #FabFridayPost
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…#FabFridayPost January 2017 Round Up

    • Sinéad Reply

      Likewise! Ethan is ALWAYS welcome chez nous if he’s like that Johnny lad! 😉

  22. Parent on PA- That’s what I’m saying! I don’t mind fixing ‘appointments’ but I can’t stand most kid who are entitled brats who have never been asked to clean up anything in their life or who think it’s their personal right to nag about snacks every 6 minutes! Also since my son is still 5, i’m WAAAAiting for when he’ll be grown up enough for unsupervised playing – out of my house!

    #marvmondays #bigpinklink
    swapna recently posted…Bleeding Paper- 3 Ways! {Practical Mondays #44}

  23. Love it!! 🙂 I’m relatively new to the playdate world and L hasn’t gone to a friends house to play without me yet, thankfully my friends have kiddies of similar age so its more of an excuse for us to catch up and land the kids together! I’m quite nervous for the day he asks for an unknown child to come and play at our house though!!
    Louise (@TattooedMumsy) recently posted…#ClearOutandEat – Week 2

    • Sinéad Reply

      My littler ones are still at the chatting-moms-playdate stage and it’s the biz. Always nice to catch up with people. To be fair, other kids are generally so dotey and I love being a fly on the wall at playdates here and watching him with his little friends. Too cute!

  24. Love this. Johnny sounds like the perfect play date guest. I’m afraid we have had some attendees whose reference wouldn’t be quite as glowing. Although by your reference to your Karen Millan coat I’m assuming you have too!!! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

  25. Sinéad Reply

    Some exaggeration here for humour’s sake. They are all (mostly) fantastic. Lol. 😉

  26. Ha, ha! If only eh. Definitely a post of pure genius. Can you imagine some of the letters if this existed 😉 We had our first school playdate last week and we hosted. Its was a success – the kids played nicely and the other mum and I didnt run out of things to talk about. But im glad I didnt read your post first as I think I would have panicked about all the things that could have gone wrong, lol! Fab post as always, thanks for sharing it on #MarvMondays. Emily

    • Sinéad Reply

      So glad you liked it! I was thinking of you when you mentioned you had your first playdate during the week! Glad it went without a hitch – as the mostly do! Definitely would hate to frighten people or put them off! Ahhh!

  27. I nodded my whole way through this..I literally could write a book on nightmare playdates. I am so glad with two teenagers that this stage is well and truly over. Yes they have mates over but you don’t need to be there hovering and supervising anymore, my role is reduced to providing food and entertaining, witty comments whilst they eat said food. The other great thing is you can take them out, drop them at the cinema whilst you do the shopping and then pick them up. Oh it is so much better! Hang on in there! #MarvMondays

    • Sinéad Reply

      I’m sure you’ve different challenges to face, Jo but yes, at least Pritt Stick on the telly isn’t one of ’em!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh I’m not sure how I’ll cope with Sleepovers, Sarah! :O

  28. This would be wonderful … I’d be tempted to attach photos as supporting evidence for the times that the Tubblet’s friends have come round and trashed her room. Kind of before and after … #sharingthebloglove

  29. Haha, this made me laugh out loud! I bend the rules for other people’s children too, then curse myself while I spend the next few days reminding my offspring that playdoh should not be thrown at the ceiling to see if it will stick or make a rainbow pattern on the paint…!

    • Sinéad Reply

      Aw man! Lol. Play-Doh is the DEVIL and should be outlawed entirely!

  30. Hahahaha! Yes this would be very useful! Personally I would really like to know in advance if any child is likely to destroy my coat with scissors… I would have to re-evaluate the friendships on that one ????
    #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Sinéad Reply

      Deffo. I mean HOW attached are our kids to these ‘friends’ anyway? Fabric over friendship, I say! 😉

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh the tantrums are so hard to deal with. Especially in front of other parents, who ALWAYS seem to have perfect children! Grrrr…

  31. I remember those days and I wish I could say fondly. And then as it turned out, my son had Asperger’s so…Dropped by from #FRidayFrolics and happy I did. Thank you and hope the week ahead treats you kindly. 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Donna! Never a dull moment with these kiddos, eh!

    • Sinéad Reply

      So delighted to have a featured post on #FridayFrolics! 🙂

    • Sinéad Reply

      Ha ha! The chances of fraudulent information and doctored documents are high! Lol

  32. We had an orchestrated playdate with The Devil in the form of a tiny little girl with a pat of butter in her mouth. Once ensconced in my daughter’s room, she proceeded to wad up wet toilet roll, coat it in chalk (that red colour that never ever washes off) and throw it at the bedroom ceiling thereby creating a new, and unwanted spotty dot effect that required a professional decorator to paint over. She also flooded the bathroom.

    That was two years ago & my daughter has asked for her to come round again. My grudge says ‘when hell freezes over’.

    Question to other parents- A) Should I ‘get over it’ as suggested by my husband? B) Should I issue the opposite of Sinead’s Letter of Recommendation in the form of a Health Warning?

    • Sinéad Reply

      Oh sweet Jesus! That is actually scary I would be A LONG TIME getting over that! don’t get. Perhaps you should consider posting flyers in the neighbourhood! Lol…

  33. Haha brilliant! If only all playdates had a little Johnny dude! Instead it’s normally mini gangsters that use the duvet cover as a colour by number activity, or something similar that makes you want to reach for the booze once they’ve gone home! 🙂

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC. Hope you can make it Monday x

    • Sinéad Reply

      Thank goodness for the booze, eh! My condolences re the duvet cover! 😉 See you next time!

    • Sinéad Reply

      You’re welcome to comment any time, Morgan! We don’t do much clock watching around here. Lol. Thanks for the visit! 🙂

  34. Ha ha this reminds me of the sleepover rules post I did way back. I think we’ve had 3 playdates at our house in 12 years of parenting. I’ll never fathom how some of my kids’ friends have about 5 a week….and frankly I couldn’t bear it myself! Don’t want any Johnnies in my home thanks 🙂
    absolutely prabulous recently posted…5 Things People Need to Stop Doing on Twitter!

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