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Does anyone else find playdates hard with pre-schoolers?

(10 Posts)
Fayrazzled Thu 04-Jun-09 18:39:21

I've been friendly with a few mums since our children were babies and we regularly get together for the children to play. But now our older children are almost 4 I'm finding play dates so stressful. We're all SAHM so really appreciate seeing each other but to be honest, I'm not sure I want to host any more playdates. The bickering, crying, and poor behaviour of the children when they get together is driving me nuts. (And I have to say it is the older children and not the younger siblings that cause the problems). The children all want to meet up, and can play nicely but it is punctauted by these episodes of fighting, crying and naughtiness.

I don't want to be too specific in case my friends use mumsnet, but today, some furniture of mine got damaged and I'm furious about it. My child wasn't involved (but she's no angel so I know on another occasion could have been) and the children were told off by their mums as soon as they realised what was happening but I'm cross. They don't realise the furniture got damaged, and I don't want to tell them because there's nothing I want them to do about it- i don't want them to pay for it to be repaired for example. And they're good friends and would be absolutely mortified if they knew. But I don't know what to do- we regularly meet in each other's homes so it wouldn't be fair of me to never host a turn. I don't think I can suggest we always meet away from home without it seeming suspicious.

Does anyone else find playdates fraught and what has your solution been?

PortAndLemon Thu 04-Jun-09 18:45:09

I think you could suggest that you always meet away from home -- at least for the summer -- without its seeming suspicious.

"I think now the children are getting older they really need a bit more space to let off steam; why don't we switch to meeting up in the park over the summer while we have a chance of the weather's being good, instead of in each others' houses?"

Then you can do it with a clear conscience whatever the others decide. Bring some nice cake or biscuits and a pack of drinks so you don't look like you're being stingy, but it wouldn't be at all an unreasonable thing to do.

BiscuitStuffer Thu 04-Jun-09 19:56:36

Great idea and suggest lots of picnic lunches / teas grin.

You could also say that your kids are driving you crazy in the house so you don't want to host any meetups because you fear that you may end up on the drugs. No-one will bat an eyelid.

misshardbroom Thu 04-Jun-09 20:14:40

Oh I could have written your post myself. I have two lovely longstanding friends, and we have 9 children between us. We meet up for tea once a week. It's hell on earth. And as you rightly say, it's the older ones that are harder.

I don't have any great solutions I'm afraid. PortAndLemon is right about meeting in the park in the summer, that works well. If it's your 'turn' to host, you could always suggest the park and you'll bring cakes / stand the coffees for everyone.

And if you feel like this, there's every chance the others do too. Could you say to them "Haven't the older ones been hard work today? Next week, shall we meet for early coffee when they're all at preschool and we've just got the little ones?"

They might all surprise you and say yes!

hester Thu 04-Jun-09 20:38:28

I know just how you feel. I look back on those long summer days with my NCT friends, babies lying immobile at our feet, with great nostalgia.

Acinonyx Fri 05-Jun-09 10:23:27

This happens to us too. When ALL the kids (nearly 4 with a gazillion younger sibs) are together it can get a bit wild. We do meet up at the park when the weather is good (and the would have been hostess takes cakes/fruit) and sometimes at softplays. I think it's quite reasonable to discuss the fact that it is getting hard to do these big playdates at home.

saintmaybe Fri 05-Jun-09 10:57:55

Just tell them. They'll probably be so relieved you said it first and you can work out a better solution together.

JimJammum Fri 05-Jun-09 20:47:36

I meet up with some other Mums regularly (once per week) with our kids who are now 2.5 and a younger sibling. We have never done it at someone's house unless there is a specific reason like someone's car is broken etc. Just too much work for the host. We do parks in the dry and softplays in the wet, and take it in turns to buy cake and coffee. I don't think that's at all unreasonable. The kids are bad enough when they're out and about, let alone all cooped up.

Fayrazzled Fri 05-Jun-09 21:52:38

Many thanks to all of you who responded with your comments- glad to hear I'm not the only one!

I think you're right- I need to take the bull by the horns and discuss with my friends how we handle playdates in the future. I really think the groups are just too large for us to host any more than one other family at home at a time now; if we want to meet as a larger group we'll need to meet elsewhere. I know I don't have fun, and judging by the behaviour of the children, I don't think they do in a confined space either when there are too many of them.

Smithagain Sat 06-Jun-09 22:49:09

You've done pretty well to make it to nearly 4. Our NCT group reached breaking point when the older children were just over 3. Stuff got broken, the quiet children couldn't play because the boisterous ones took up so much room. The weekly meetings petered out and we starting meeting in twos and threes, away from home. Or even in the evening, at the pub grin.

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