When I was growing up, I always thought playdates would be a bigger thing than they have been (so far). Being one of the only people I know with a baby, it was never something I put much emphasis on.
Until someone at daycare mentioned playdate etiquette, and I realized I hadn’t even thought about Sloan’s first playdate. Was it a real playdate if she didn’t really know how to play? Would I call it a sit-date? Either way, I was beyond excited to take part in the cultural tradition of moms hanging out while their babies hang out.
I knew I wanted to do something that would be fun for everyone, and something that would be more memorable than iced tea in my living room. With October just beginning, the Country Apple Orchard seemed like a no-brainer. Leaves were just beginning to change and it offered just enough variety to keep both Sloan and I entertained.
Now that the location was set, Sloan and I needed someone to, well, play with.
Enter Maggie and Ada, our soon-to-be favorite playdate mates.
Maggie and I met when our husbands worked together at BronzeAge Art Casting, and we instantly bonded over how hard it was to get slurry stains out of clothes. From there we became quick friends and spent many a night around a fire, the four of us telling stories from college and beyond.
What I've Learned
- Let parents parent. Your style of parenting is unique to your family, and vice versa. Remember to respect that when your children are playing together.
- Just because your friends’ kids are older or younger than yours doesn’t mean they can’t play. Find an activity that you can all do, and the kids will naturally flock to each other, no matter the age difference.
- Playdates don’t have to be intricate. Sometimes sitting on the couch while your babies roll around on the floor together is just what you need as a parent.
Obvious choice, right? Yes, except Ada, Maggie’s incredibly charismatic baby, is 6 months Sloan’s junior. Fast forward five years and it wouldn’t matter, but when that is the difference between walking and crawling, it seems a little daunting.
Or at least that’s what modern media had led me to believe. I was in the process of planning when I came across a sea of “guides” to playdates. How they should look, when they should happen, and what to expect. I was feeling overwhelmed when I realized these guidelines were unrealistic. More than that, they were boring.
No mud. No peanut butter. No direct sunlight. I felt like an exotic plant.
Boy, was I right.
We met at the apple orchard, babes in hand, ready to playdate the crap out of the day.
We started at the petting zoo, which could have been an entire day on it’s own. Both Sloan and Ada were intrigued by the goats and chickens, neither quite old enough to be afraid of strange animals.
PRE-GAME LIKE A PRO
> Be aware of food and animal allergies.
> Pack a “mama” bag in addition to the diaper bag – magazines, coffee, shared interests.
> Touch base with the other parents beforehand, making the initial get together less awkward.
After the head goat dubbed our sweaters appetizers, we made our way to the kiddie train. Seeing Sloan and Ada sit in the train cars smiling and laughing, both a little confused but content, was so gratifying. We were not only introducing our children to socialization, but we were doing so in a safe and encouraging environment.
Maggie and I would joke that our babies had to be best friends, but seeing them laugh together was such a heartwarming and proud moment for both of us. There is something to be said for desperately wanting to instill kindness in your children, but it is a whole other ballgame to see it play out.
After picking some apples and getting too hot for anyone’s comfort, we decided the only thing left to do was plan the next get together… and take a nap.
I was nervous about the playdate because I wanted to make sure everyone had fun. I didn’t want Sloan to get jealous or get aggressive (as she does when she’s excited), and I didn’t want Ada to be afraid of Sloan’s bold approach to friendship.
Talk about the apple not falling far from the tree. (Get it?)