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What’s it like to be the cool playdate mom

I moved to California from Philadelphia 6 years ago, and I’m still amazed at all of the differences. The folks in Cali are a lot less stressed, the farmer’s market is more banging, and playdates are serious business. When I think back on my life in Philly, I can remember having maybe ONE official playdate. It just wasn’t something that we did. I’d go to my cousin’s house to hang out and our children would play, and that was that. Playdates in California are on a whole ‘nother level, though.

The first time Ayva was invited to a playdate by one of her preschool friends, I had questions. Am I supposed to come, too? Do I pack a snack? How long does a playdate last? I had real anxiety trying to figure out all of the rules around this new social activity. My thinking was that if I got it wrong, word would get out and then next thing you know, Ayva is the girl who never gets playdate invites. That would suck.

After the stress of figuring out the rules for when Ayva was invited to a playdate, I had to figure out what to do when I hosted one. Back in the early days, I’d be on edge the entire time, making sure there was never a moment of downtime. Playdates hosted by Ayva’s mom had to be fun! There had to be good snacks! They had to leave wanting more.

Man, I was so naive.

I still can’t believe I was so worried about making sure children playing together had a good time. I mean, they’re kids. Playing together. Is that not the definition of a good time? I know better now, though. My #1 goal when I host a playdate now is to keep my child occupied so I can: (a) get some reading done, (b) finish up some work, or (c) chill. Don’t worry, I’m still keeping my eyes and ears open for any issues that might arise, but if your child is used to having a butler like parent who is there at their beck and call, a playdate at our house is probably not going to be fun for them.

That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate the moms who plan elaborate activities for the children to do when they host a playdate, that’s just not the type of Playdate Mom that I am.

What To Expect At a Playdate That I’m Hosting

Everyone in our home follows our family rules.

It’s fine that your child is allowed to drink soda at your house. Kids don’t do that in our home, so would they prefer water or juice (on the rare occasion that we have it)? The great thing is that we don’t have a ton of rules, but the ones we do have your child is expected to follow. We don’t have the bandwidth to allow for transfer of your house rules into our place. Sorry not sorry.

Ms. Brandi only does low-maintenance snacks.

If your child has an allergy, we will absolutely make sure they stay safe. As long as we know ahead of time that there is a food that they truly just can’t stand (one of Ayva’s friends HATES pizza), then we’ll make sure to accommodate that. If your child is used to the crust being cut off of their sandwiches, I’ll give them a butter knife and they can do it themselves. I’m not a chef. This is a playdate. It’s not that deep.

Misbehavior or rudeness is addressed immediately.

I adore children, and am especially loving the age group that Ayva and her friends are in now. They are smart, confident, and are testing out using their voices to express how they feel about things. I love that, and am all for children having opinions and asking questions. Rudeness, however, is not allowed, and I’ll gently correct your child (any child, mine included) if they are behaving in a way that isn’t kind or thoughtful.

I’ll also gently correct them if they say something that feels racist, sexist, homophobic, or just plain mean. I’ll let you know about it afterwards, but I’m not going to wait to address the issue. I’ve been doing this professionally for a long time (see my decade long work with girls for more info), so I know how to address things without demeaning or humiliating your child. If you don’t want your child to be corrected by other parents, you’ll probably shouldn’t drop them off over here.

Kids play together without Ms. Brandi.

I don’t play with kids at playdates. Let me explain. If I was planning a playdate for myself, it’d be with my husband and we’d probably head down to Napa or Monterey. When your child comes over to have a playdate, it’s because they’re there to hang with Ayva. There is a good chance that if they try to include me in a game I will say something like, “Thank you for asking me, but I want y’all to play together! Go ahead. Have fun!” It’s not that I don’t love playing with children, but Ayva was an only child for 8 years. She had a lot of time to play with me. A playdate is a once in awhile opportunity to hang with people her own age. She needs that. Your child needs that. I’m going to let them play.

My goal as a Playdate Mom is to be the same type of mother that I am to Ayva all the time. I’m darn good exactly as I am without having to put on some pomp and circumstance because someone else’s child is around. If my laid-back, chill mama routine isn’t good enough, then folks can choose not to have their kids hang with us.

During one of Ayva’s last playdates, her friend said that our house was “the most fun”, and that I was her favorite playdate mom. That’s all I need to know. The children are having a good time, I get to read a few chapters of my book, and all is well. No wonder people love playdates so much!


Tuesday 25th of June 2019

I love this post! I was the same way about playdates, not knowing what to do or what to expect. I love your "what to expect at a playdate I'm hosting," especially that everyone is to follow the family rules and misbehavior is addressed immediately. I'm totally the same way there... if I wouldn't allow my kids to do it, then I'm not gonna allow your kid to do it.