I remember when my son was finally old enough to go on "drop-off" play dates. I just walked him over to his friend's house, handed him over to another family for the afternoon ... and then tried not to worry! When you think about it, there's a lot of trust involved in a play date.
You want your kids to have fun on their play dates. And no one wants to be "that mom" -- the one who gets all neurotic and asks if all the snacks will be organic. But now that your kids are making new friends at school away from you, a few questions are totally reasonable to ask. (Even when you think you know the other mom.)
1. What are the kids going to be doing? Will they be playing with toys (Legos, dolls), watching TV, running around outside, playing video games?
2. Do you have a trampoline, swimming pool, or any other things that are potentially unsafe? (We used to have a trampoline, and the whole neighborhood would come over. But also, my brother broke his elbow on the thing, so ...)
3. Which adults will be home with the kids? Is it the parents, older siblings, a grandparent, a sitter? You will want to be introduced to anyone supervising the kids. Make sure you have everyone's contact info and that they have yours.
4. Any snacks planned? If you have a child with allergies, this question is going to be a no-brainer for you. But parents also may want to limit sugar, or avoid too much snacking before dinner. It's fair to ask.
5. Do you have any guns in your home? If so, where are they kept? I mean ... you kind of want to know. It doesn't have to turn into a debate, but accidents have happened with unlocked weapons.
6. Do you have any pets? Maybe your kids have allergies. Or maybe the family has a big, scary pit bull straining its chain in the backyard.
7. Are you going anywhere? If the play date includes being driven places, you'll want to offer to bring over an extra child seat for you kid. Don't assume they have one.
8. Any special rules I should know about? Different families have different rules, and you want to make sure your child will be able to mind the family's rules within reason.
9. How do you handle disagreements? This is a delicate way of asking how they discipline kids. Are they going to put your kid in a time-out -- or would they actually spank your kid? Are you okay with that?
What this all comes down to is a conversation where you just get to know the other family a little better. They should feel free to ask you questions about your family, too. Hopefully you'll be inviting their kid over to your place at some point. I feel like it's less about policing another family (so not okay!) or imposing your rules on them -- and more about making sure your child will feel safe and comfortable there.
What do you like to know about another family when you send your child over for a play date?
Image via Acutance/Flickr