9 Things to Ask Before You Send Your Child on a Play Date

Mom Moment 75

legosI 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

kid activities, friends, safety


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femal... femaleMIKE

Kids break bones all the time.  Trampolines arent' the only way.

nonmember avatar Candi

I hate that you added to the negative stereotype concerning pitbulls in your piece. I have 2 pits and a 10 month old. They are the most loving dogs to her, but I have raised them that way. A certain dog breed is not scary or dangerous, their owners are. And if the owners of any dog just left them out back chained to a post, then I would not want my child left unsupervised at their house.

nikki... nikkivolkov

Femalemike; I would ask for their children's safety about the vaccinations. If mine has just had their shots and theirs aren't vaccinated, its a safety issue. And I disagree about people being mossy by asking questions. When its your kids, you need to know.

nikki... nikkivolkov

And also, you should ask these questions even if you accompany them on a play date. Never know what kids might get into even one room away if there are unsecured firearms etc.

Inke Malcom

The thing about pit bulls ticked me off. Yes, some breeds of dogs-pit bulls, rotties, doberman- are more dangerous than others, but none of those breeds will attack just for the sake of attacking unless they've been trained to. If a dog-no matter what breed-has been trained to just attack, and been held back and prevented from socializing, then the dog will bite anyone that comes near in. It applies to pit bulls, rotties, and any other type of dog.

femal... femaleMIKE

Which is exactly why I said I would not allow playdates.  I don't like invasive questions.  school friends stay at school.  My childs cousins and my friends children are their friends.  I know 4 people due around the time I am due.  My friends/family know me naturally.  They don't grill me like its a priveledge for me to keep your kids.

plus, people LIE.  no, there is no firearms here....yes, we serve only organic snacks....

femal... femaleMIKE

Maybe you should do a home search to look for firearms and dig into the medical files. 

notan... notanazgirl

I don't think this article was about pit bulls or dogs/ animals in general.  This is about sending your kid over to someone's house for a playdate. My goodness, take a chill pill.  Maybe to other parents I'm the freaky one. 

Diane Davis

I hope this is a joke. Would you also like background reports? You sound like you are interviewing for a nanny.  Oh no, the big scary dog! We should keep our kids away from experiencing anything. Go ahead, let your kid live in a "bubble"; but, don't encourage the rest to believe your crap.

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