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AIBU - please don't worry about reciprocity

(38 Posts)
Fairysnuff321 Mon 22-May-17 09:53:06

Play dates or whatever. I understand different people have different circumstances, my DD wants friends round to play. I am lucky I have a big garden and space. Unlucky, in that I don't have much family around, and have felt a bit isolated due to some circumstances. I want to share my garden, and enjoy the company of others. I'd be gutted if someone didn't come because they couldn't reciprocate, if you find it hard to accept without reciprocity, bring biccies if you really need to.
If we are just a little open about circumstances, we we all benefit.
Or AIBU and just trying to live a crazy utopian dream ?

OhhBetty Mon 22-May-17 09:57:13

Ohh I'm so pleased you've written this! I'm moving soon to a rental (selling the house following breakup) and can only afford a tiny house, no outside space and it's in a very rough area so won't be inviting people over. I've been worried about accepting invites (we have a little group of us) as all of them are well off and live in nice houses in nice areas. I think I'll just give them the facts and they can decide whether to invite me or not!

DJBaggySmalls Mon 22-May-17 09:59:23

YANBU, I was the parent that had all the kids round. At least you know where they are and what they're doing! Kids need to learn to play in big groups, to share and be generous. We found that some kids really struggled when there was more than one other child.

GaelicSiog Mon 22-May-17 10:01:57


I'm a single parent to an only child (disregarding her step siblings). DD is very much a social butterfly and we invite her friends over as much as we can, but she also has a couple of time consuming hobbies and we have a large family we're close to. She seems to be at that stage where they get play date invites every other week and sometimes I really can't fit it in. We do it when we can, but having to worry about always having DD go there/them come here the next week would definitely put me off.

I also have a number of health issues which can make having lots of kids round difficult depending on those. And DD is very close with friends from an activity she does out of school, and will generally prioritise those friends if I ask her if she'd like a play date. I've had a couple of mothers at school pick up lately really try to push the play date thing, even when I say we really don't have time this week. We will fit them in when we do, but we can't always. I can't deal with all this tit for tat business on MN!

Teabagtits Mon 22-May-17 10:03:12

We don't have kids round to mine because it's tiny and there's nowhere really for them to play ( and I'm autistic and hate strangers in my house )It has affected my dd's invited to other people's houses and I feel bad about that but we just don't have enough space. I wish more people didn't mind that we can't do it.

woodfornuts Mon 22-May-17 10:07:30

I do lots of playdates because quite frankly I'd rather kids came here where I'm in charge of what goes on and if parent stays we can have a coffee.

The best bit? I get to stay in my home at the end of the playdate and still manage to get dinner ready on time. I really would rather you came to my house.

If you bring biscuits then any uneaten stuff will be sent home with you. Please don't be offended we don't really eat rubbish stuff from the shops - unless on a playdate..

ItchyKondera Mon 22-May-17 10:08:31

Totally agree. I love having people over and to me its just as good as going to someone elses, but with the added bonus I don't have to worry about my DS (4) about making a mess in someone elses house. He loves having his friends over to play and show them his room. Also means I don't have to get the baby (10 months) ready to go out and she can sleep in her cot and I have all the things I need to hand.

Often I will host and others will bring some lunch for the kids or cakes etc. Just tell them you would love to have them over but you don't have the space and they will be fine smile Oh and bring cake

wickerlampshade Mon 22-May-17 10:11:20

If you bring biscuits then any uneaten stuff will be sent home with you. Please don't be offended we don't really eat rubbish stuff from the shops - unless on a playdate

nor have much in the way of social skills clearly! Sending home the remains of a gift is incredibly rude.

TheTurnOfTheScrew Mon 22-May-17 10:12:47

I agree - happy to host without return invitations.

One caveat though - if you're unable to host for whatever reason, I think it can be good to mention that although you can't host right now (no reason needed), your DC loves to visit. Otherwise I sometimes wonder if my DC is pursuing a friendship where the other child is much less keen.

SilverDragonfly1 Mon 22-May-17 10:19:23

I think in general parents who see playdates as a nice thing for their child are far less likely to get sniffy about reciprocity than the ones who see it as free childcare.

OhhBetty Mon 22-May-17 10:27:30

Tbf though we don't drop our kids and go, as we're all friends since they were a few months old so its as much for us as the toddlers! Definitely not regarded as "free childcare" although I don't know anyone who would think like that anyway! But I do have anxiety so worry about what people think regardless of who they are.

FizzyGreenWater Mon 22-May-17 10:32:24

Yes, I agree. We have a decent garden and I'm more than happy to repeatedly host - it's easier in a lot of ways, and I just don't give it a thought whether there's an invite back.

I think that if there's any genuine taking the piss situation with another parent, you soon become aware of it in other ways. Playdate stuff really isn't the bellwether for issues like that.

BarbarianMum Mon 22-May-17 10:35:32

I do a lot of playdates but my children would definitely mind if there was never any reciprocity and definitely don't often invite children where they know a return invitations will never happen. Part of their fun and enjoyment comes from going to other people's houses and playing with different toys too.

Reciprocity in some form is an important part of social interaction and most people get that. Those who don't are, imo, best avoided, and that is definitely a lesson I want my children to learn.

GaelicSiog Mon 22-May-17 10:40:39

I usually send DD with cake/some kind of craft kit for them to do together if I know I can't offer up a return any time soon. But equally if school holidays don't clash with an intense work week for me we'll invite lots of her friends over for play dates and I won't be too bothered about whether or not she's invited back.

I have one school mother right now who is really trying to push the play date thing. DD doesn't really know the child and I will struggle to fit that in, let alone a return. On the one hand the other child may really want DD to come, on the other hand the mother may be looking for a return. I don't know what's better to do there.

WellTidy Mon 22-May-17 10:56:26

We have children round to play and for tea after school way more than my DC go to other houses. This is largely because I work part time and DC's friends' parents work full time. DC's friends who come to us are largely in after school club or at a childminder's after school, so there is much less scope for reciprocity.

Occasionally DC will go to friends' houses in the holidays, as parents will take some time off then, but nowhere near as many times as would be reciprocal.

I always tell other parents not to worry about reciprocating, as long as their child is happy to come to us, we are happy to have them. I find it easier to be honest to have children around. DC want to play with other children more than they want to play with me. When they have friends round, I never see them. They play by themselves and only surface to be fed and watered.

That said, it is never the case that parents who don't reciprocate actually ask me if their DC can come round. I am always the one inviting. So I don't feel taken advantage of in any way, as it is at my instigation.

teapotter Mon 22-May-17 11:02:08

I love having other kids round as it stops my two from arguing and we have a big garden. I am not fond of going elsewhere as I worry about their behaviour and I'm a home body and find it tiring.

Does anyone have good ways of explaining to potential play dates that you're not wanting a return? I'm worried that people say no the second time because they feel they ought to host us back (or maybe they just don't like us!?)

DancingLedge Mon 22-May-17 11:19:40

I loved having children round, fun and important for child's social development.
Didn't mind if it wasn't reciprocal. Circumstances differ, and wrangling several to collect one who is round at someone else's can seem like hard work.

There were a few friends where, having listened to what they got up to at someone else's house, or when out, decided those children were welcome to visit mine, but not vice versa.

If it's difficult to invite children back to yours, a summer hols day out, or even just trip to the playground can do for reciprocation.

The mum who amused me was the one who said she couldn't invite a child to hers, because they had a smaller sibling,(not a baby), and it would be too much. Whilst in school playground .With me and my four.

But lives differ, and what others are juggling is not always obvious. Don't worry too much , many of us are not keeping a score.

Oblomov17 Mon 22-May-17 12:29:31

Actually it bothers me. I think its unfair.
I'm not bothered about parties. If you have a huge party for 15 kids or whole class, doesn't need reciprocated.

But play dates. I feel differently. I invited lots of friends for ds2, none reciprocated. One I had round many many times. In the end, ds2 said "mummy, when will it be my turn to go to someone else's house"? He was so sad. He was just desperate to go to someone else's. Just for the excitement I guess. So I stopped. I'd had enough.

Shortly after, Now he has 2 best friends and it is equally balanced for him to go to theirs and them to come to us.

I like having kids round. I go to quite a bit of effort to make sure they have a dinner they like, and a cool dessert.

It was just the multiple children not reciprocating, that got to me in the end.

GaelicSiog Mon 22-May-17 12:34:45

oblomov just out of interest, because this is something I'm often torn over and it's interesting to get other people's opinions. Would you prefer other parents say no to the play date if it can't be reciprocated? I always try to reciprocate in the holidays if possible but sometimes my health ends up being a stumbling block there. We do try to fit in play dates during term time but it isn't always possible, and when parents approach me and keep asking I never know whether it's better to squeeze it in or say no because I can't reciprocate for a while.

BarbarianMum Mon 22-May-17 13:18:39

Gaelic personally I'd think it fine if a parent explained they couldn't reciprocate until the holidays, or not at the present time due to health, if they explained. I could then explain to my child why it wasn't happening and encourage them to sometimes invite other friends where it was reciprocated as well.

I do think that if you can't or won't reciprocate you should be up front about it. Equally though, I think only being able to reciprocate at weekends or in holidays is quite common and perfectly acceptable.

MagicMarkers Mon 22-May-17 13:58:30

I'm a SAHM with a biggish house. I've always invited kids around for the benefit of my children (and it keeps them occupied) and I don't care if they are reciprocated. People have different circumstances and I don't keep score.

CurlyMango Mon 22-May-17 17:38:08

Omblov, I really do agree. Wish I could shrug it off but it's hard. I do l Ce the house to be full and for them to play whilst I feed them.

eeyore2 Mon 22-May-17 17:54:03

It's lovely that you don't expect people to reciprocate and if you explain this in a nice and friendly way I'm sure other mums will love it. In the nicest possible way though, you may want to rethink sending back the gifts. Your reasoning makes sense but it could upset people. It's not really 'the done thing' so why do it? Just in the biscuits if you don't want them in the house.

Oblomov17 Mon 22-May-17 20:35:01

Gaelic, I wouldn't mind if it took a long Time. I get that. Some people work full time. So could only do holidays. Or they must be able to manage one Saturday in the next 6 months, surely?
Some people have health restrictions. I'm not totally unfeeling. But even those could manage it once a year surely? I only work part time, and my diabetes rarely restricts for more than a few weeks. But these few children, never reciprocated. And eventually, that was just too much.

wrinkleseverywhere Mon 22-May-17 20:52:52

I agree. I enjoy having people over & so don't get too het up about it. I also like knowing that the children are safe as, like a PP, I'm not sure my children have been at other people's house.
What does annoy me is when other people make a song & dance in front of DD about how they must invite her over & say they'll text that evening & then nothing. I don't mind but DD does. Although it has taught her some useful life lessons.

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