A preschooler's budding social life can be tricky for a mom. Just ask Circle of Moms member Jackie I., whose preschooler is getting invitations to hang out from the parents of classmates she doesn’t even know. She wistfully remembers the days when her child was a babe in arms and she got to pick the moms and kids they'd socialize with. Now she wonders, “What if you don't like another child in a play date and don't want them influencing your child? Do you let your kid go anyway. . . ? What if you don’t like the mom?”
Here, Circle of Moms members share tips for managing your preschooler's social life — and your own.
1. Suggest a Short Outing Together Instead
Circle of Moms member Kelly C. points out that while many moms struggle with saying no for fear of offending other parents, "you have to worry about your child's well being first." Still, she doesn't advocate feeling trapped at the homes of moms you aren't comfortable with. Instead, says Kelly, hold the play date on neutral ground: "suggest something like a picnic lunch at the park, or go for ice cream or something." This allows your kids to play together while limiting the intensity of the experience for you.
2. Be Picky, But Have Good Excuses
Remember the Mean Girls from high school? According to a Circle of Moms member named Stephanie, those social challenges are re-played in adulthood between moms at play groups. Little Miss C. feels that the “mean girl” dynamic is a perfectly good reason to turn down a particular play date invitation. As she advises moms who encounter this dynamic: "You are off the hook."
She's not the only Circle of Moms member who feels that the best way to avoid getting stuck at unwanted play dates is to turn them down to begin with. That’s what Amanda D., mom to a 4-year-old, recommends: “If my friends have kids I would rather my kids stay away from, then I do my best to keep the kids apart. . . .by not getting together with those families as families. If my husband and I want to hang out with the parents, we do our best to get babysitters and go out without the kids. That way we keep our friendship with the parents and don't have their kids influencing ours too closely.”
When it's the parents she wants to avoid, she finds excuses as to why the day doesn’t work. She even makes alternative plans so that her story is rock solid.
3. Go, But Have an Exit Plan
Several moms, including Meghan A., have learned to arrive with an exit plan. She came up with this strategy after attending a play date where the other moms were gossiping about other parents and their kids. "That’s when I discovered I’d rather play alone at home with him and figured out how to get out fast”
Charlotte L. sets a time limit on some of her child's play groups to make them manageable. While she enjoys the other children and wants her child to have fun, she sometimes finds it difficult to fit in herself. “I’d probably have more fun just being with my daughter than being disappointed in trying to make friends with the moms."
4. Make the First Move
Lest you find yourself spending two hours trapped in the homes of moms you don't care for, several Circle of Moms members suggest starting your own play group with "other moms in your town that are like-minded and would like that option," as a member named Carla suggests. Rachael B., who finds that it can be hard to make friends in a group play date setting, also suggests initiating your own gatherings. She suggests inviting just one family over to dinner. “That's the best way to connect instead of in a group setting.”
Stacey P. also takes a proactive stance and invites prospective play date kids and their moms to her house first. “When I know nothing about them or their family, I am hesitant about bringing my child there, so I invite them here first.”
Do you avoid play dates with moms or kids you don't like?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.