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How to make play dates work when you work full-time

Categories: Balancing Act, Kid Matters


By Angella of Committed: The Ties That Bond and Dutch Blitz

Back when I was a mom with (three) kids not yet in school, play dates were a normal occurrence. My girlfriends and I would get together and manage to squeeze in a few sentences of conversation between diaper changes and fights over toys and the requests for MORE Goldfish crackers.

Fast forward a few years and I’m back in an office full-time and my kids have friends who are not the children of my friends and despite having spent six hours of every day (Including two recesses and a lunch!) with their friends, they want more. MORE.

(I remember doing the same as a child, so I can hardly complain.)

The question is, how do you make play dates work when you are working full time and your kids have friends who belong to people not in your circle of friends? Here are a few ideas that have worked for us:

Let them go over to play after school.

My second child has a friend that he’s known since preschool. We may not be “friends” with his parents (we don’t hang out as couples) but we’re “friendly”. That son has gone to their house after school and I’ve picked him up on my way home from work.

Have them over after school.

There are a few days a week where either my husband and I are home after school and so the friends will come over after school until dinnertime.

Get together on the weekend.

With my husband and I now employed full-time outside of our home (as opposed to self-employed full-time inside of our home), I know all too well that weekends are precious. However, the occasional get-together on a weekend is good for everyone, including the Moms. A neighbor invited us over a few weekends ago and she and I got to know each other better while the kids ran around in her yard.

How do you busy Moms fit play dates into your days? Any helpful tips for the rest of us?

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3 comments so far...

  • Last year the play dates got way out of hand. This year I restricted my girls to one play-date a week, each.

    Besides school, they see friends at church, at brownies, at ballet, and when we get together with friends who have kids, which is at least once a week. One play date is plenty. More than plenty.

    Sometimes they contest it, but I stick to my guns. I’m glad they’re social, but our kids need balance as much as we do. Family time is important. And quiet time where they can be alone with their own thoughts and imaginations is also important for their development.

    It’s just good parenting. *Pats self on back*

    Danica Grunert  |  November 10th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  • Oh wait. I don’t work full time! Does my answer still count?

    I would say that you need to do what works, schedule-wise for your family. That’s going to look different for every family. The kids need to understand that they’re part of a unit, and sometimes everyone makes sacrifices and juggles their schedules for the sake of the whole unit.

    Danica Grunert  |  November 10th, 2010 at 7:03 pm

  • I don’t really have this issue, but the way my mom resolved it was: “no.” So we didn’t see our school friends outside of school, and that didn’t kill anyone.

    As my daughter’s 4th birthday approached, she asked if she could have some school friends come to our home. At that point it was too late to plan anything anyway, so I told her we could have her friends over after she is 5. She was very happy to hear that and I know she’ll hold me to it.

    We actually have a great setup for multiple kids to play, and it gets used all too rarely. The problem is time - I don’t even have time to get to know the other kids’ parents, and of course they are working too. One thing I’ve thought of is to have kids come over for maybe an hour when my nanny is here on Saturday mornings. She can teach them art and Spanish and lead them in some age-appropriate activities. Of course, this would be interesting only to some, and the nanny might want to get paid extra if it were a regular thing.

    I think I’ll do the birthday thing on a Saturday next fall and feel out what other parents are willing to try. Since they do see each other all day, this is not really a priority for me.

    SKL  |  November 11th, 2010 at 12:57 pm