Last week, I got the chance to take the twins to the mall for a mani/pedi and lunch. As I enjoyed my time out of the house with my friend, we noticed moms at the playground either having an official or unofficial playdate with their non-school aged kids. It got me thinking that being on a weekday playdate is probably something that I really can’t do, for a number of reasons. Besides the fact that I am a working mom, my brain hears playdate then introverted parent emerges.
Yeah, I am a social being around people that I really know and trust (you know, besides all you internet pals), but when it really boils down to it, I am an introvert and married to one, too. The sheer thought of taking my kids on a playdate with strangers scares the you-know-what out of me. As you know, I am a brand ambassador for a mom-geared app that helps us to connect with other moms for business, advice, and (gasp!) playdates. I know. Playdates. Before you go calling me a hypocrite, understand that my joining up to promote the MomCo App is part of my way of pushing beyond the comfort zone. When I was asked to write about playdates, my heart starting beating wildly, but my head knew I had to provide moms and dads like me and Greg with some “survival” tips to grow their village through playdates. Thus, this post, Playdate Tips for the Introverted Parent was “born”.
1. Don’t go to a playground. Your first playdate with a new parent friend (and friend for your child) will be a lot more successful if you go somewhere with walls or paths. I know. Gulp. If your first time is at a playground, you both will spend the time chasing your little ones (they will likely have their own agendas and you will be pushing a swing while your new friend is scooping up kids at the bottom of the slide). The goal of a playdate is to test out waters of friendship for both parent and child, to get some energy out, and socialize. This simply won’t happen on the playground quite yet. Instead, opt for a public space or home with set activities. Go to the zoo and follow the same path. Just avoid the park benches for the first time.
2. Set and communicate boundaries up front. This really pertains to time to meet and end, as well as details like meals/snacks and who is paying for what. You don’t want an awkward moment when you whip out the latest Pinterest bento lunch for your kid and their kid doesn’t have a goldfish crumb to eat. Nor do you want to leave your wallet in the car and make your new friend feel responsible for covering your admission. Awkward is the last thing introverted parents need.
3. Pre-planned activities. If you followed my advice in #1, you went somewhere that allows for things like crafts or imaginative play. Maybe you tried out a session at your local craft store or are bowling. Perhaps you opened your house to the friends and have set up toy stations (with toys/games your kid is willing to share). Having something set up ahead for the kids helps immensely. And parents? Sometimes you need an activity too. Yeah, we can all eventually tell stories of that funny blow-out diaper or crazy in-law, but for introverted parents this won’t come immediately. Plan on something that will get you and the other adult(s) interacting, if even only for a round of Guess Who or Charades. Break that ice first.
4. Schedule wisely. Nap time in our house is typically late afternoon, so for us to avoid a meltdown, 10:30 is usually a good time to get out of the house and playing. Tying back to #2, 90 minutes is also a good length of time that then allows you to split for lunch. Or maybe you are a working parent and can only do a lunchtime playdate. The schedule gives you an out – just don’t stare at your watch or phone and miss out on the precious opportunity you have.
5. Be yourself. This may be the hardest thing to do, but when it comes time to having the adult conversations (which you will, and should, you both deserve it), truly be yourself. There is no better you, and you’ll make honest, lasting friends. Bonus? You’ll be a role model for your kids (and that’s the biggest win).
Should these tips fail you, understand that not all playdates are going to turn into lasting relationships. Maybe your kids won’t get along but you really find a good friend. This is okay, and life. We don’t have to like everyone we meet, we just have to remember to always be kind. If you agree to go separate ways, thank them for a good time and wish them the best at their next adventure. If you hit it off, plan another one in the future (because if you don’t, it won’t happen).
What tips would you add? Comment below!
Are you in the Pittsburgh area and looking for a playdate? Right now, my playdate list in our area is blank, but I want to change that. As soon as this mama is back to her normal, healthy self, there will be a playdate with my four ‘lil Burghers in the works. Just sign up for the MomCo App (you need a Facebook account to verify you are who you are, we are all about safety) and watch the playdate section. You can find out more about this app at momcoapp.com. It’s a free app that is available on:
Android Store: http://bit.ly/1GpWVRn
Apple Store: http://bit.ly/1CLzAUx