The 8 Most Excruciating Things About Playdates (For Parents)​

kids making messDoesn’t the term “playdate” sound festive? It’s the combination of two words with fairly pleasant connotations! It implies a lighthearted activity involving only a small amount of effort! It’s steeped with the promise of much-needed social interaction for frazzled, lonely new moms! And yet in reality a playdate usually includes ZERO of these hoped-for benefits, and in fact should be called something else altogether. Perhaps one of those expressive German terms with no exact English equivalent: Allesworkunnoplaybigasspainennügen.



There are plenty of articles to be found on why playdates are mission-critical, as they supposedly help children develop socially and emotionally, in addition to teaching them valuable skills about sharing and cooperating and generally not being pint-sized jerkfaces.

That said, do we really need to do everything the so-called “experts” tell us to do? They tell us not to eat entire containers of ice cream in one sitting too, and I call bullshit on that. Hey: ice cream = dairy = calcium. I’m just preventing osteoporosis over here.

Even if I didn’t question the concept that a playdate-free child is destined to grow up in an adult with a shed full of skinned cats, I’d question my ability to commit to regular playdates. Because playdates completely SUCK, and here’s why:

1) You don’t actually get to talk to the other parent. You know how you have this fantasy of spending quality time with your other mom friends under the guise of a get-together that’s for the kids’ benefit? That never pans out, because the instant you begin a conversation, your children interrupt you. Like, not once. Not twice. Repeatedly, for the entire playdate. Every verbal back-and-forth sounds like you’re on a cell phone with bad reception and also you're suffering a stroke:

You: “So last week I — honey, stop that, can you — anyway, so I was — hang on, sweetie don’t eat those off the — anyway, I — dammit can’t you see Mommy is — god, where was I, so it was — oh jesus do you have a Bandaid?”

Her: “Did you see the — what’s — can — I — this — honey, don’t — I — ANYWAY, should — what? — just a — fuck it.”

2) When you DO get to talk, you talk about lame topics. You think you’re going to talk about deep stuff, or at least fun stuff that helps you remember that you’re still an actual human being with interests and opinions, but instead you find yourself discussing sippy cup brands. Passionately. For like three hours.

3) You barely get to sit down. Hey you know what sounds not fun at all? Chasing my kid for half the afternoon while doling out a nonstop series of snacks and cleaning up his mess — while we’re guests in someone else’s house.

4) You have to pretend like someone else’s completely disparate parenting style isn’t annoying. You know what I’m talking about: when the other parent’s kid is doing things like biting your kid or throwing rocks at your head, and the other mom is all, “Now honey, we talked about causing grievous injuries to other people. Can you share your feelings with Mommy?” And you’re all, JUST GIVE HIM A TIME OUT OR I SWEAR I WILL DO IT MYSELF AND I WILL INVOKE THE BIBLICAL RULE NOT TO SPARE THE ROD IN FACT HOW ABOUT THIS CURTAIN ROD I mean ha ha ha, he sure is feisty.

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5) When you don’t know the other parent, it’s awkward as hell. Playdates when your kids are little are bad enough, but once your kid makes his own friends and you have connect with another mom you’ve never met so your kids can get together? Worrrrrrrst.

6) Every time you throw them outside, someone comes back in and tracks mud or dog poop onto the carpet. Seriously: every single time.

7) Your house gets trashed. “Oh, it’s okay!” you say, while a visiting toddler rubs grape jelly into your couch and hurls a fistful of metal Matchbox cars into the TV. “Don’t worry about it!” you say, while a baby’s blowout diaper explodes onto the wall. “It happens here all the time,” you say, as the living room bursts into flames and your bed frame is shattered by a bouncing third-grader who should damn well know better. “Oh gosh, no, of course you don’t need to help clean up,” you say, gritting your teeth so hard little plumes of powdered enamel float out of your mouth.

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8) Being cruise director straight-up blows. Playdates with older kids seem like they should be easier, but now you’ve got kids who can kind of play on their own but you can’t quite just hide in another room with a book yet, so you have to hang out dealing with the unreliable cacophony of noise they create while periodically being called on to suggest new activities or deal with hurt feelings or admonish them to stop doing that to the dog and you have to feed them both and the other kid is allergic to everything but bread made out of pencil shavings and oh jesus CHRIST is it 4 yet.

Where do you stand on playdates?

Image via shutterstock

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