Hosting a play date doesn’t sound like a good idea at first. Someone is going to dump their child at your house and escape while their little darling destroys whatever your child missed. Who knows what strange and disturbing pastimes this little one has? Will you find strange snot wiped on the furniture? Will your child begin to eff and blind like a proverbial sailor? And what will this child report back to his or her parents about you and your home? Hosting a play date inspires pure terror for many obvious reasons.
But it does have some benefits, and we’re not talking about your child’s social life.
- Your child will never realize how wonderful his own toys are until a peer covets them. Sick of your kid ignoring the grossly overpriced action figure you caved and bought? Hand it to the visiting child. Voila! Now it is the best toy ever and your child cannot bear to be parted from it. This is also a prime opportunity for your child to play those tedious or disgusting board games that have somehow crept into your home. (Seriously, when did they start making board games about dogs pooping and pigs exploding? Why do people who hate civilization so much make children’s games? Why do they hate parents? Is anyone with a child suffering a lack of exposure to poop? As soon as they are out of nappies, they start with the toilet humour. Give us a break!)
- Need some motivation to get the house cleaned? The fear of your child’s friend’s mom recoiling in horror at that bit of pasta that never did fall off the ceiling or mistaking one of the larger dust bunnies for a dog is sure to get you revved up. Yeah, the house will be wrecked again in an hour, but that’s fresh filth. It’s much better than old filth. You might even be able to motivate your child to help. Ha ha ha ha, not really. But you might be able to let your child play with the hoover in another room while you clean in peace.
- Your child’s annoying behaviours will seem so much less annoying than the visiting child’s. Annoyed about your son’s poor aim in the toilet? Just wait until he has a friend over and the friend tries (and fails) to use the cat’s litter box. (True story.) If you’ve been wondering if your child’s behaviour is odd enough to merit professional investigation, seeing their friends lick the walls or deliberately poke themselves in the eye will reassure you. It’s normal for children to be weird. Very, very weird.
- The children will be so occupied with ensuring that they have the exact same number of biscuits and the exact same amount of juice that you can dig into the remaining play date snacks with abandon. They won’t notice! Bonus, you can post to Facebook that they were playing maths games. Counting biscuits IS a maths game. For extra fun, serve their biscuits in separate dishes and tell them you *think* you gave them each the same number of biscuits, but you aren’t 100% sure.
- You know all those snacks that your child demanded in the shop but then decided she didn’t like? Yep, it’s time to serve those. In fact, you should arrange a playdate whenever your child decides a snack she absolutely had to have is yucky. Clear out those cupboards and the visiting children will think you are a rock star for showering them with so many goodies. And when your child sees other children eating those treats, they might just decide they weren’t so yucky after all. (But no, don’t be fooled into buying them again.)
- Someone is now obliged to host your child for a play date, which means hours of freedom for you! Let’s face it. This is the real reason to host a play date where you allow the other parent to escape. You are investing in your own short-term parenting karma. This is the price you must pay to get to sneak out to a film matinee or okay, let’s get real, take a nap.
The first time another parent drops their darling off at your house and leaves, it might feel terrifying. But don’t worry. Soon your fear for the visiting child’s well-being will be replaced by a fear of the visiting child. That too is temporary. Once the children have inhaled the contents of your kitchen and settle down to play, you might even get several consecutive minutes of relative quiet. (Absolute quiet is terrifying, by the way. Check on that immediately before there is structural damage to your home.) Keep your eyes on the prize: this other parent now owes you.
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