Everybody Play Nice! ....Toddler Playdate Etiquette

Isaac and I were looking forward to a playdate today at the creative playground and then for lunch out afterward. Isaac may be 22 months old, but he can run, climb and keep up with most 4-5 year olds...he has amazing balance and strength, confidence and determination. So he was excited to head out this morning. We arrived and found no one there, so we went ahead to the swings, and I kept an eye on the parking area for the gal and her son. Isaac said the other boy's name a couple times - anticipating his arrival. Thirty minutes later, concerned, I phoned the gal but got no answer. We kept playing. I followed behind Isaac, running, climbing, whizzing down the slides, swinging, giggling. Our dates never showed. We were stood up.....How rude.

I know things come up. Especially with toddlers. But a phone call or text message would have been nice. I know this gal has a cell phone. Fortunately Isaac is still young enough that he forgot about the boy after a short while. If he had been older, I can see how his feelings might be hurt if a friend let him down. I'm just one of those people who you can count on. I'm on time, I keep my commitments. If I can't - I communicate this as quickly as possible. That's just my way of respecting others. I tend to expect the same in return. I don't know this gal very well -- we've only seen each other a couple times before. I am getting the impression she is a bit flaky and not very good with schedules - she was late for the first group playdate we had, and very unprepared for the 2nd one which she hosted. To top it off, her little boy doesn't always play nice either. I don't think he gets much social interaction. So, I thought I'd give them one more try and she doesn't show today.

I'm no expert - only being a mom for a year now, but I think there should be some basic unwritten rules of playdate etiquette. Here is my list:
  1. Be dependable. Confirm before the date. Be on time. If unable to make it - call the other parent(s) as soon as possible. Their time is valuable too.
  2. Communicate. Host & Guest - establish time period, rules, talk about allergies.
  3. Keep your cooties to yourself - Stay home or cancel if you're hosting if you or kiddo are sick! Don't bring an already over-tired toddler either.
  4. Snacks. The host should try to offer something. If attending & your child has an allergy - bring their own safe snack. Bring your own sippy cups.
  5. Hosts - Contain pets away from the play area for safety reasons and offer a clean playspace. (I disinfect toys/area before & after playdates when I host).
  6. Guests - Talk to your child about the rules of behavior before you attend. Don't micromanage but do follow through and monitor your child. Don't discipline another person's child.
  7. Guests - don't bring older siblings, or take it upon yourself invite other guests. 
  8. Guests - Ask where your host prefers diaper changes to be done & about disposal.
  9. In case of meltdowns - cut the playdate short. All good things must end sometimes.
  10. Guests - offer to help clean up before you go. Make sure your child isn't slipping out with a toy that doesn't belong to him/her.
Are there any other unspoken rules you apply to playdates? Any tips, or suggestions you would like to share with other moms?


Cyn said...

As a mom of four, I disagree with #7. I'd never be able to go anywhere if I was only able to bring one my kids. My oldest is in school full-time, and the second is in school part-time, but if I could only bring the 3.5 year old, or the youngest, and the older one didn't have school, am I supposed to leave her at home?

That being said, I wouldn't join a playgroup that didn't understand that anyway. I realize a lot of first-time moms are used to things being a little quieter, so that's probably not the best groups for me to be part of.

Retro Girl said...


I belong to a local moms group of about 90 moms. They host a wide variety of events almost daily - so there is something for everyone-- but within the overall group there are small playgroups with about 6 mom members each. They are arranged by age groups -- 0-1, 1-2 2-3, 4-5, and so on. They hold the playdates every other week in the morning, so moms with older school age kids come only with their young ones. This works out well, so that the young ones are getting good socialization time with their peers of the same age. It's not meant to exclude older kids - it's to keep it at an age-appropriate level. I agree with the way they do this, it keeps the little ones from being overwhelmed by bigger more active kids. And keeps bigger kids from coming and being totally bored/not challenged by infant/toddler toys.

On days when big kids are out of school---the overall group has events for ALL kids (like Picnics, Holiday Parties or meets at an Open Gym or Inflatable Jump place) so everyone can attend, and the age specific playgroups meet another day.

As far as individual playdates that's where I should have maybe clarified that statement on #7 to say "Unless you've discussed it with the host". I've actually had a playdate where I didn't know another mom was bringing an older sibling. He was bored, became frustrated and ended up breaking my child's toys and fighting with the toddlers. It really depends on the people and situation....Everyone is different.


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