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Playdate Etiquette

Mommy Dearest: Playdate Mommy Doesn't Take Turns

Mommy Dearest,

My son loves having playdates with his best friend, but his mother never offers to host us. In the last year and a half, she has extended one invitation and when it's her turn, she always has an excuse — from her air conditioning being broken to just having the exterminator come — as to why it would be better to meet at my house. I am happy to have them over, but tired of being the one who has to put lunch out and do the major clean up. How do I tell her that she has to reciprocate?

— Always the Playdate Host

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


Always the Playdate Host,

The important part of a playdate is that kids get time to connect and have fun with each other. It seems that in this situation, the children get along well so why not just focus on the positive? If you want to host, it's your decision to set out a meal and tidy up the house, but don't expect anything in return. Perhaps the other mother isn't comfortable having guests to her home and you may make her (and her son) uncomfortable bringing up the issue. Rather than calling her out, suggest meeting on neutral territory like the local playground for the next get together.

– Mommy Dearest

Image Source: Getty
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
the only think that id be annoyed of is providing the lunch. (the cost of the food and my time cleaning up and the energy figuring out what everyone would enjoy, all of which she is not helping with) i had the opposite situation, we usually go to my friend's place and i'd be happier if they came here. the pro for the hostess is that you can fold laundry or something (get something done) OR rest while your child is entertained. The guest gets to rest too but cannot accomplish anything. I never really held this against my friend though, it wasn't exactly her insisting it be that way, so... the annoying thing is i assume she never insists on bringing snacks or helping you tidy up. one idea is to have them over after lunch because 'you don't have anything great to prepare for everyone' or something along those lines, ('we're eating leftovers but don't have that much'?), unless you book these dates in advance, in that case say you are having lunch at someone else's place and want to meet them after lunch at your place.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Plus 2, you should read the comments clearly before commenting yourself. I was told " think the writer probably feels more annoyed that she feels like the only one putting in effort, not necessarily that she has to make lunch and clean. Give her a break" and I answered with a quote from the person herself "tired of being the one who has to put lunch out and do the major clean up" so your "get off your high horse" makes no sense. .......
sarahinparis sarahinparis 8 years
If you're "tired of being the one who has to put lunch out and do the major clean up", then don't invite them. Or don't offer lunch. There could be a host of reasons the other mother feels uncomfortable with inviting someone to her house or with turning down an invitation. You can't expect someone to do something for you just becuase you offer to do it for them. If the other mom was asking the OP to host the dates, that would be different, but it sounds like the OP is inviting the other mother for playdates. You can't give a gift and then expect someone to give you one, it might be nice and considerate if they do, but you can't demand it.
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
yeah, until you have had a few "extreme play dates" at your house you don't know what's involved. expand your social situation. you aren't limited to either your daughter having fun and you being unhappy or NOTHING. there are lots of nice families out there :)
MissSushi MissSushi 8 years
Yeah exactly. Why should someone be able to coast in and benefit from something they are putting absolutely no effort into. Do you not remember The Little Red Hen..? Whether she has issues or problems with having it at her house, does not ever give her the right to continually expect other people to coordinate playdates with food and then clean up after. Two kids can make a LOT of mess, and most playdates are generally pretty fun, exciting and lax for kids. I'd agree that confronting really isn't going to do much other then embarress you both, just stop having them at your house every time. Start doing the park, and don't bring food at all, or for the other child. it's going to be awkward at first, and I know, I had to start doing it not too long ago when a "friend" wasn't feeding her child and i fell into taking care of her daughter the same as mine. You can remark about the lack of food, and not give your child any either becuase thats cruel, and suggest a picnic type snack next time. She has to step up and start putting a share of work into things. You aren't her mother, her spouse, or anyone that's responsible for her actions or her share of things. Don't feel bad about it.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
What's wrong with being tired of cleaning up and paying for lunch? Get off your high horse CaterpillarGirl. I'm sick of people who make it sound like a mother has to sacrifice everything about herself for her child, and if she doesn't she "doesn't have her priorities straight"...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
"but tired of being the one who has to put lunch out and do the major clean up"
psterling psterling 8 years
I think the writer probably feels more annoyed that she feels like the only one putting in effort, not necessarily that she has to make lunch and clean. Give her a break. But yeah, meeting at a neutral location probably seems like the best idea.
msjean msjean 8 years
The prob is the writer feels she is getting taken advantage of. I think the easy solution is next time you discuss playdates, just say "Would love another playdate. Let me know when and where and we'll come."
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
is this about your kids spending time together, or you paying for lunch and having to clean? it sounds like your priorites arent in the right place.
janetwrogers janetwrogers 8 years
I agree with Mommy Dearest. There may be lots of reasons that the other mom feels she can't reciprocate, and she may feel bad about it already. A neutral location might be best, if you want a rest from playing hostess.
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