A Date to Play

*UPDATE*

I feel like I just sat down and visited with my friends over a cup o Joe (I’ve always wanted to say that).  Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately because we’re faced with it weekly.  To all you Moms with little ones, just wait! I remember being shocked at invitations for sleep overs for my Kindergartner and play dates with people I’d never met before.  I’m not a popular mom with these parents, but that’s okay with me.  My kids know we don’t do sleep overs and they accept the rules.  Because I think deep down they know it’s all out of love.  And remember, It’s okay to say, “No, thank you.”  Oh, and thanks for making me feel not so paranoid after all.

Hi.

Can we talk a minute?

I don’t love play dates.  Is that bad?

Just felt like I needed to get that out.  I feel much better now.

My kids love them, though.  And so we make dates to play, carefully.

During the school year, my kids are away from me for nearly 40 hours a week.  When they get home, besides homework and studying for tests, we have karate once a week.  And church. And you know, dinner and Wii bowling tournaments, together.  My kids also miss seeing one another during the day and they like to play and catch up after school.

And, did I mention I miss them?

So there’s that.  And then there’s the worry.

My kids enjoy playing with their cousins and with friends from church.  We know a few neighbors, but we definitely enjoy our privacy, so we keep to ourselves some.  And classmates?  Other than an occasional snippet from the classroom, do I really know what these kid’s homes are like?

Am I the only mother who worries about my child playing in a neighborhood home of someone I hardly know?  I can’t help but wonder, “Are their guns in your home, pit bulls, pedophiles?”  I’m just saying.

Did you know that over 40% of homes with children have a gun and many of those guns are left unlocked or unloaded?  I ran across this info from the A.S.K. gun safety campaign (Asking Saves Kids).

I have good friends who think I’m a little paranoid.  And, I’m sure they are right.  Their kids spend several afternoons a week in play dates and seem safe and happy.  

And now, with summer here and loads of free time, I know the doorbell will be ringing.

My nature and personality demands some guidelines:

1.  I schedule play dates about once or twice a month for each of my older kids (this gives me time to plan and gives my kids an incentive and something to look forward to).

2.  I do not do ‘spur of the moment’ play dates because I feel pressured by an acquaintance at my front door.

3. The friend plays in my home first.  I want to know the kind of relationships my children are developing.

4. I make sure I can answer these questions:  If there are guns, are they locked away and out of the reach of children? Do they have scary dogs?  What does my gut instinct say about this family? Will they be cared for and be safe without me?

So, what about you?  


Food for the Soul:

“But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”- Psalm 103:17-18

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    We do lots of playdates. But I am a stay at home mom and my kids are not in school. It’s mostly with parents and I don’t have to worry about those things yet. I like to read up and get ahead for when I do though. :)

  2. 3

    says

    I am so thankful that my kids are all still little and their playdates involve me coming along and so far have just been with friends from church. I am a home body though and tend to prefer just staying home with the kids then to over scheduling ourselves. We haven’t hit the neighbors ringing our door bell stage, yet, but I think your have wise instincts.

  3. 4

    says

    First visit here…love your blog!

    I am much happier with kids coming here than I am with letting mine go away. I’m pretty uptight about going into a new home.

    However, each of my kids has one really great friend whose parents we know well. We typically swap out whose turn it is to host the kids.

    And really, can you be too careful with your kids??

  4. 5

    says

    Right there with you, as well we should be…if there was enough space in here I could write a book!
    Not to intentially scare you but to say your very right to feel this way.

    Just today my dh shared something about his co-workers 7 yr old son, who was involved in an indecent exposer while playing with a few other boys and one girl on the playground, did I mention behind the school!

    So in a nutshell momma, your instincts are keeping them safe.

    #1 check
    #2 check
    #3 check,check, check,check
    #4 Guns in your house that aren’t lock away (empty) and they aren’t used for hunting, never mind. Dogs that aren’t like stuffed animals to be dragged around by tails and ears, no thanks.
    I’m not “feeling this fam”, next.
    They won’t be cared for as well without me, but I trust Lord your watching out for them and will let me see the signs of closed doors before hand. Even with my own family.

    No KRISTEN, we can never be tooo trusting with these gifts from HIM!
    It’s our job to protect and train.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for this discussion!

    Blessed~ Dawn :0D

  5. 6

    says

    I’ve been struggling with this recently. My son who is only 3 1/2 has found a new friend who is a 4 1/2. They play great together, but I’m not ready to let him go over to the friend’s house for a playdate (despite his pleading with me). I don’t know his parents well enough and I get completely paranoid about the exact things you mention. My answer has been to stick with playdates at the park and invite his friend to our house for the time being.

  6. 7

    says

    Well, since Hailey is little- 19 months, her only play dates involve me. But, I don’t go to a lot either- for a different paranoid reason- germs. Why can’t other mothers keep their sick kids home. Of course, I’d much rather worry about that then guns anyday.

    But, when she’s older- I will have to know the family and I will ask the questions. Because it is way too important to not ask.

  7. 8

    says

    I am right there with you on the playdate issue. So far I am not ready for her to go to other people’s house without me but lucky the few moms that we do do play dates with I’ve been to their houses several times. i agree on the front of the germs/dogs/being sick. I don’t want to put other people thru what I go thru with her being sick so why do that to other people.

  8. 9

    says

    My husband and I are very picky about who our boys can play with. I don’t do much with play dates. About once a month my boys have a friend over from church, but that’s about it. We homeschool so I don’t have to worry about classmates. Plus we live in a very rural area and don’t have to deal with neighbor kids. Boy its beginning to sound like we’re hermits or something!

  9. 10

    says

    Check on them all!! When one mom called asking for Boo to come over, I had to decline, unless I could stay and we only were there for an hour at first. I must meet and know the parents well enough to trust them before they have have my child…

    You can never be to protective, not with the way things are in the world.

  10. 11

    says

    Your not paranoid. Play dates, in my opinion, should be with parental supervision. It can be difficult, because sometimes, we don’t want to “play” with the parents, but it works better this way. It’s also good for us to know parents of our children’s friends.

    Invite a few moms for a brunch/gab session while the kids do the wii bowling tournament.

    But never let go of your kids into an environment you’re not comfortable with just because somebody else thinks you’re overreacting. And family time…it’s the most important. Our kids need to develop those relationships first, because they never go away!

  11. 12

    says

    Our playdates are always with cousins and it is as much for us mommies to get together as it is for the kids.
    I know what you mean, though. I would have a terribly hard time sending my kid off to someone’s house when I don’t know that someone. I’ll just say, “Send your kid over here.” That way I know what is going on! lol

  12. 14

    says

    My kids are all very little, not yet in school. We do a playdate nearly once-a-week with the exact same three ladies (and a lot of times the third friend can’t make it so it’s just the three of us).

    We’re all friends (the moms) and so it’s a question of sanity, really, and coffee. :)

  13. 15

    says

    Yah, I don’t think I’m ready to just let my son go somewhere without me, especially if I’m not familiar with the home or the family. We have a group of friends that we met thru our local MOMS Club so we usually end up getting together with them, as much for us moms as for the kids! I’m pretty protective with my wee ones, but I don’t think you can be too careful. It only takes once and I’d just never forgive myself. That being said, he doesn’t live in a bubble, that’s for sure.

  14. 16

    says

    Um, totally paranoid on this end! Even with family members I hesitate to let my kids be with one adult, alone. There must always be two adults.

    My children are still incredibly young (3 and 1) so the whole school/playdate thing hasn’t really commenced other than with cousins of the same age. But I definitely worry about them going to other kids’ homes in the future!

  15. 17

    says

    I worry about the same things.

    It’s even worse the older they get, with sex, drugs and alcohol…I tend to let everyone stay over here and only let them stay over at peoples homes that we know WELL. I mean really well, like know the color of their toothbrushes, well.

  16. 18

    says

    My boys are 1 & 3 so I do quite s few play dates now, but they are with my friends and their kids. Yes, my friends and I force our kids to play together. Us moms need the girl time. But when the boys are older, hubby and I have decided to make sure we have the coolest, most awesome-est stuff for boys to play with…and a fully stocked pantry. this way our boys and their friends will want to hang out at our house rather than another whose parents just may be working.

  17. 19

    says

    You’re not too paranoid! We don’t do too many playdates. We do know a neighbor really well and are like-minded in how we raise our children, so the kids can go there or our house. We have no problem with friends from church. But even friends from Christian school raise their families differently and can make playdates difficult when other parents allow things that we don’t.

    Our children are so precious – why would we want to take chances?

  18. 20

    says

    Thanks for once again confirming that we’re not all just paranoid moms. Life is too precious and our children too dear to us to be so callous about their friendships. Your list of things to know before a playdate is excellent- one every mom should use. If a mom gets offended because we ask certain questions (like, are their teenage boys in your home?)then we probably don’t want our kids in her home anyway!

  19. 21

    says

    I’m probably as paranoid as they come. Especially after my 6 yr old daughter went 5 feet out the front to get something out of the car & someone called her over to his car & gave her a piece of gum! She said the man told her he was a police office, but when I showed her what the cars & uniforms looked like, she said that’s not what he was wearing or driving. (he was gone by the time she told me about it). I freaked out!! We had a huge talk about talking to strangers. Now, she doesn’t go to the car, unless I’m standing at the door. But she’s never been to a play date that I haven’t been there. I dread the whole wanting to stay the night with a friend. Your questions you posted will definitely be some of the few I ask! Will it be wrong of me to get a backgrond check on the entire family? LOL

  20. 22

    says

    I understand and I really don’t like playdates because I miss my kids, BUT we do a lot of them. Yes, it’s easier and “safer” to have them all here, but my kids are learning that not everyone thinks and lives like we do. From being in other homes they’ve also learned some independence. Sometimes they like the other homes better and sometimes they actually admit to appreciating our family more! And here’s the thing: we always thought our home was one of the more conservative ones in the area. We have always been soooooo very careful about our home’s environment, but it was OUR dog (our sweet,cuddly no problem dog) who bit someone else’s child. That was a huge lesson for us in many, many ways.

  21. 23

    says

    As a retired police officer I can tell you more “unloaded” guns kill people than loaded guns. Understand???? Person is shot and the other person says, “but the gun was unloaded!!!” Guess not! I have guns in my home, but I will tell you that you can not be too safe about that. Gun and ammo needs to be seperated and a gun lock or lock box used while children are there. They are curious, I don’t care how good you hide things. My other big fear was a big brother or really any other male in the household. I did not let my kids stay the night at other peoples houses while they were young, they could have company all they wanted (within reason!) but I just was not comfortable with them going to other houses. They were allowed after I had much faith in the family that took probably about till high school! And the dog thing….you never know about dogs, and I have three boxers (med-to large dogs). They are very friendly, family protectors, but I do not let other people, kids or adults, tease and torment my dogs. Rough house to a mimumum and everyone needs to be nice, dogs included. But they are animals so you never know. That is why a watchful eye is the best prevention. Pools, ponds, dogs, guns, molestation, we must be watchful over our children. Thank goodness I got mine raised…now we have grandkids! Good grief. Have a great (and safe) day!

  22. 24

    Marcy - The Glamorous Life! says

    I aways ask ‘um do you have any guns in the house?’…..but more importantly I give long speeches- some including requiring the child to re-inact the steps to be taken if something goes wrong, a grown up gets ‘creepy, or a gun is found in the house. I feel pretty confident. But honestly- I don’t like playdates either!

  23. 25

    says

    Play dates are always at my house except for a select few. We’re new to the area, so unless I’ve had a chance to REALLY get to know parents..it ain’t happenin’.

    Our instincts are a gift from God…be thankful that you’re using it. Some parents don’t.

  24. 26

    says

    I barely do any. I miss my kids too. ANd family time is so important. Maybe well do more when they are older. Sobering thought about the guns though

  25. 27

    says

    With my kids being six months and almost three I don’t really have to worry too much yet because I’m comin’ with them. Later, though, I have the same questions you do. I have personal experience (read: pain) with the gun thing, too; my sister’s boyfriend in HIGH SCHOOL was killed by a gun that he and his friends were playing with and didn’t realize was loaded. Yeah, they should have known better by then, but they still should have been in a place where they couldn’t get them. I’m 27 and I still don’t know where my dad has the guns! So anyway, I don’t think you’re overly paranoid. You’re good paranoid. Your kids’ mental, physical, and spiritual safety has to come first, no matter how annoying the parents think you are. :)

  26. 28

    says

    We value family time, and I’m definitely not too into play dates, personally.

    We have friends with kids of similar ages to ours, so we often visit each other’s homes–adults chat and kids play. We have one neighbor kid that comes to play at our house (“solo”) on occasion but we don’t typically allow our kids to go over to friends’ homes without us. That’s just our personal preference.

    We like to know the children that are kids are hanging out with–AND their families, so group things (families together) work best for us.

  27. 29

    says

    I hate playdates. In the past year we’ve had one. ONE! I’m working on overcoming the shyness and getting my stuff together, so that I can schedule more for the summer, but The Lord knows that this is my greatest struggle as a mother.

  28. 30

    says

    When my kids were younger I loved stop in play dates.. last minute stuff. But as My life has filled up with ‘stuff’ and my kids have gotten older, I don’t have time for that anymore.
    We don’t do overnights .. I don’t like the responsibility of others kids and I don’t send mine out.. except for the RARE few times my friend takes them.
    We have guns, my husband hunts.. BUT they are all disasembled and locked up and No ammo in the house.. I do forewarn parents of that..but honestly no one could ever access them if they wanted to, my dh is very gun safe. I love playdates.. for me too! ;-) Life however is just too busy these days for many of them.
    I homeschool too so I have a bit more day time with my kids.

  29. 31

    says

    Ok, so I am way older than all of you. Three of my four kids are grown and the 15 year old that is left at home only hangs out with people we have known forever. She does have a guy friend and they only spend time together at our house.

    I have been thinking about how I handled this when all four were young. It was more of an organic thing, with their relationships growing out of my friendships with other women. We mostly spent time with church friends, which really reinforced out sense of community. I have to say that I miss having gangs of kids around. That is probably me, with my rose colored hindsight!

  30. 32

    says

    I am as paranoid as they come. I have a son who is almost 16 and he just barely got permission to ride his bike (alone) up to the store (less than a 1/2 a mile away).

    He takes his cell phone…so that I can bug the crap out of him.

    Oh yeah, we are THAT family. We literally live two houses from a little park and greenbelt area…my kids are never allowed to go there without an adult. Not even the 16 year old.

    I am shocked at the kids that I see walking home from school by themselves…they are LITTLE!

    And all the reasons you mentioned, are why we don’t let our kids do sleepovers (except with our SUPER close friends that we have known since the dinosaurs roamed the earth) cuz sleepovers are probably the scariest thing for a mom.

    I do not like other people’s kids that much…so I don’t often invite them over here for play dates. Is that so mean?

  31. 34

    says

    My children are starting this stage in life at 8, 6 and 3. Like you, we are very selective of who, when and where they play. My 8 year old is starting to try and “arrange” his own play dates and that gets a swift No Way Jose around here. Mom makes the arrangements not the kiddo’s. We also don’t allow them to spend the night. When the time comes they can stay late and watch a movie or whatever but mom or dad will pick them up so they can sleep at home.

  32. 35

    says

    Wow, I thought I was alone in this. I’ve always had my own little playgroup and frankly we’re just too darn busy to do the playdate thing for the most part.

    I’ve also learned the hard way. A parent we thought we knew really well brought my daughter home from a playdate one day. Drunk. I mean this guy was really, shockingly, drunk. I wanted to call the cops.

    Then there was the time I went to pick up my daughter and I found the family coming home with my daughter and friends in the back of a pickup. Not OK, and not legal here in California.

    It can be hard on kids to explain that different families have different standards and different habits, and I think they do learn a lot about the world from other households, but we parents have the right to be completely paranoid. About everything.

  33. 36

    says

    I’m a little late to this party but I’ll give my input for whatever it is worth. We don’t let our kids do sleep overs either. As for playdates, they are done mostly at our house and parents are invited to stay (that way I get to know them too) and if they are at someone else it is with a family that we know pretty well and most of the time I can stay too, but not always. I get to know parents at school through pick up and drop off and birthday parties. I stay for those too! It helps that my kids go to a private Christian school but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad influences they will come across. I am probably not making sense anymore. In a nutshell, I am very protective of my kids and who they are with. My daughter is bringing a friend home today after school and we are meeting her mom for a late dinner so it will kind of be a girls night/playdate. Both girls are extremely excited and I hope they aren’t giving the teacher a hard time today because of their excitement ;) Now that you know way more then you ever wanted to about me and my playdates!

  34. 37

    Mrs. Querido says

    When my sister and I were younger (by this I mean 10 or 12 yrs old) we NEVER went on playdates or sleepovers unless she absolutely KNEW and TRUSTED the parents of our friends. We had a lot of sleepovers at our place.
    I have three kids..ages 5 (boy), 4(boy) and 9 mos (girl). I can tell you that I always go on playdates with my boys. I don’t even let them out of my sight while I’m on the playdate for more than a few minutes. Not to add to the paranoia (which is really just good parenting!) but older children (especially boys) can molest as well. It’s just not worth it…so I keep a close eye on them.
    People are so lackadaisical with their children nowdays. It’s sad. I don’t want mine becoming a statistic, so I stay alert.
    I never really thought about guns in the house…I guess that would be a good thing to know too.
    Thanks for the post…good reminder!

    Blessings!
    Mrs. Q

  35. 38

    says

    Okay, I had to vote that I had the revolving door. We have too many playdates to count. I love everyone at my house, under my watch. I almost never do playdates at other people’s houses unless I know the parents very, very well and/or I’m present. The nice thing is by having people over at our house, I do get to know the kids and eventually parents well and I hope that adds to my children’s sense of community. I only have one child in school so his playdates are just weekly because our school district has a half day Wednesday every week.

    My parents rarely let me have playdates. I think they missed out on getting to know my friends well and being a positive influence on us all (at least in high school). I think being in a child’s life who is not your own can be a very positive powerful force.

    Plus, it helps to have a federal marshal in our extended family. Not that I’m paranoid or anything.

  36. 39

    says

    We are like Sara who said her children’s friendships grew out of her own. We prayed for a long time for the right friend for our daughter (who is now 11). She has been friends with a little girl for a year now, and we adore her and her family. We have so much in common and feel the same way on many issues. I have no problem with her being at the girl’s home, but b/c of pet allergies, they usually end up here.

    The issues that are more important to me than big dogs and guns (although those are important) are TV/Movie/music exposure and strange/immoral family dynamics. My kids don’t go to your house if you’re a yeller, for example.

    So, are law enforcement families allowed to have guns in the house? Just checkin’ since we are ;)

  37. 40

    says

    We do playdates every other Friday, BUT only with my mommy group so we can get out of the house and have PE time for some of the homeschoolers.

    My oldest has been invited to one playdate (party) from a classmate whose parents scared me at the school open house. So obviously my answer was thank you, but NOT!

    We have started doing a few things with a family from church who hung in there with us when my son was having seizures, but not a whole lot of “outside” dates.

    I am probably considered a “snob” in some circles saying no, no, no all the time, but God allowed me to be the steward of this brood and I pray I do a very good job with them.

  38. 41

    says

    We have a pool. And we have kids. Imagine how many knocks we get on the door in the summer. I have learned to set rules & boundaries. I have no problem with kicking kids out & sending them home. I used to, but now I’m oldier & crankier. But, my girls do have a few close friends & they all hop from house to house all day long. Definitely a revolving door.

    For your daily dose of vintage goodness & a bit of silliness, stop by Confessions of an Apron Queen

  39. 43

    says

    Bless you for having rules and enforcing them! I’m a high school teacher, and so many of the problems I see could have been prevented if the parents had been parents and done their job. It’s so sad. Anyway, my baby is turning one this week, so we haven’t had to worry about all of this just yet. I know we won’t be popular, either, when the time comes.

  40. 44

    says

    You got a lot of great feedback here. My oldest is in Kindergarten and he’s been allowed to a boy’s house once. That was after we went bowling w/the kids parents, the kid came over to our house and I still was uneasy about it. My dad told me when I first moved here that I needed to cut the umbilical cord when we first moved here and I looked at him and said – It’s not happening. Things aren’t like how they used to be when we were younger – and even back then my mom drilled everyone before allowing me to go over to someone’s house – I love her for that.

    As for sleepovers – I don’t see those happening. Ever.

  41. 45

    says

    My Bubbalu is WAY to young for sleepovers (except at Grandma’s house!) and I’m not too fond of playdates either. Yes, I like my privacy a bit too much.

    I am guessing I will be JUST like you when I have older kids in regards to play dates and sleepovers. I am cautious. I am careful. I don’t DO spontaneous.

    You are not alone, my friend.

  42. 46

    says

    PRAISE you for bringing this up!

    My husband is the chief of police and I thought it was just me knowin too much for my own good that I was a freakazoid about all that stuff. And come to find out we are THAT family too!

  43. 47

    Anonymous says

    I no longer host playdates because they are rediculous!! After having a number of them already, I realized that it is just a BIG FAT OPPORTUNITY for other parents to pry into your life. I have managed to prove to myself that playdates “do not” equal
    friendship. As a matter of fact, one of my daughter’s friends bluntly told her that she should come over because she just wanted to check out the kinds of toys my daughter had. Whoever invented the playdate is an idiot and I no longer listen to idiots!! If your friend cannot be your friend because you didn’t invite them to your house then find another friend. My daughter now has many friends and none of them come to our house.

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