I need a primer on playdates.
March 20, 2015 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do playdates generally work for 8-year-olds? In particular, do you have any specific activity or game suggestions? What is playdate etiquette? Any tips for very introverted parents? (Location: U.S.)

How does it work when another person hosts? Do I assume I just drop my little girl off? Do I stay and chat a bit? Do I stick around for the whole date?

How can I set up a nice playdate at our home for ~8-9-year-old girls? Do invite parents to stick around? Are there any universally loved games I can have around? How will interests and get-togethers change as my little girl gets older?

Is it possible to have free or inexpensive playdates outside of the home, or is that unusual?

Also - we live in an affluent neighborhood, but we ourselves are not rolling in dollars. Our home is small and very modest, and because of a combination of too many jobs and physical disability, it's not in the best shape (weeds, bit messy in the bookshelves and bedrooms, not super clean but not gross, windows are quite dirty). We can get it in better shape, but how good is good enough, socially, especially considering our comparatively lower income status?

Thanks so much for your advice.
posted by Eolienne to Human Relations (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter is eight. At this point when she has friends over I usually don't do anything other than provide snacks, so many snacks, where do all the snacks go?

Sometimes the parents stick around, if we're friends. Sometimes a neighbor walks herself over and they play. I always ask "is this drop-off or parent-stay?" if my daughter's going to someone else's house, because at this age it could go either way and I'd rather just be told up front.

Everybody loves Perler beads, if you want to have something on hand. You'd have to do the ironing. Some kids are into board games and this age and some aren't, so I wouldn't worry about that yet.

There's nothing weird about saying "hey, do you want to go do this thing" to another person. With my friends, sometimes I'll take their kid or they'll take mine, especially if it's other girls from the Girl Scout troop or ones who we've known a long time.

Standards of cleanliness vary greatly. I can think of only one house I've been in for a playdate where I thought "I wouldn't have company over if my house was like this."

I stay somewhat alert to what's going on, but for the most part if my daughter has a friend over they'll be entertaining each other and I can sit back and relax.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old. In my experience, if your child has been invited on a playdate you don't stick around and hang out with the parents unless you are already friends with them and have been invited to do so. Instead, I very briefly chat with them while dropping off my kid, confirm the pickup time, remind my kid to behave herself, and then leave.

We don't usually have any particular activities in mind when we've invited other kids to come play at our house. Instead, the kids typically find their own things to do with existing toys and their own imaginations. If they complain about being bored, I'll suggest something, but that's about the limit of my involvement. My wife is more ambitious and will sometimes have a craft project available for the kids.

In our circle, free playdates at area parks are pretty common in the warmer months. It frequently benefits both families. Your kid is happier and less needy because their friend is along (you can sit on the bench and read) and the other set of parents is free of their kid for a couple hours.

Once the parents know each other a bit, it seems like most of the playdates get arranged using text messages.
posted by Area Man at 2:32 PM on March 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think at 8, kids can play by themselves, but if I've never met the mom before, I would invite her to hang out and have a snack, lemonade, etc. so she can see how the kids interact, etc.. (Are you introverted or shy? If you need time to chill after social interactions, build it into the day's activities. If you don't know how to talk to relative strangers, you may want to practice some neutral small talk about the kids.) You don't need to get the floors sanded, but I think clean is better than grubby. A little clutter and dishes in the sink are fine. Weeds in the back yard are fine, dog poop isn't, but that's just me.
I wouldn't invite myself into someone else's house, but I usually do want to see where my kid would be hanging out, and so on.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:33 PM on March 20, 2015

I don't have kids but I have babysat a lot and I think at that age they're pretty self-sufficient. Great if you want to plan a craft or something for them. Perler beads as mentioned above are fun. Shrinky-dinks are fun too.
posted by radioamy at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2015

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