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playdates - what do working mums do?

(21 Posts)
allag Fri 16-Sep-11 22:07:05

this may sound really silly but my DD1 has just started Reception and I am not very familiar with the whole playdate thing as I am not British and didn't grow up in this country. I had DD2 at the same time as DD1 started nursery school (she started after three and didn't go much as was sick for most of the year!) so sort of missed out on the playdates there, as was too busy running about with a newborn and coping with two. I also didn't even realize all that busy networking was going on - totally oblivious.

I don't want to "miss out" again - incredibly enough, at the end of week 2, with the kids so exhausted, playdates appear to be in full swing - I have deliberately let my DD just chill given how tired she is but perhaps it is the wrong thing to do. Are the other "new" mums who didn't know anyone in the School previously already busy arranging playdates too? Just wondered if anyone can share?

i am also wondering - I am in between jobs at the moment but will be going back to work in a few months. it would probably be a mixture of DH, who works from home, and an aur pair or my mother picking DD up - DH and my mother would certainly not be keen on doing playdates. (Mother does not speak great English for a start). What do you do?

Finally - I am anxious about it all as it appears in this country that parental involvement is important for friendships - especially in the early years. Am I wrong to be? "In my day" we played with whoever we wanted to play with and to be asking parents who I don't know well round, with the kids that I don't even know whether my DD likes yet, is weird, but I am keen to do it for her and don't want her to be left out. I am not really sure what i am asking, just wanted some words of wisdom from you wise mumsnetters. Thank you so much.

Toodamnnosy Fri 16-Sep-11 22:14:13

I have always worked full time.

My children have a great group of friends, so obviously able to do it without me, so just wanted to reassure you of that.

What I tend to do is: the parents are aware I'm at work (well for starters they see that my children are at school 8-6) and will invite my kids (via note in bookbag in early days (text once exchanged numbers)) over to their houses for tea.

I then normally have two or 3 days each holiday where my house is full of kids, as I have 4/5 kids over per day all day to make up for the play dates my kids went to others.

The one thing I would say from reading on here, that other mum's are funny about their children going to friends houses if they haven't done a full CRB check and vetted the house out fully (ok slight exaggeration but they don't appear trusting). I'm the other way, if my kids like the child, how bad can it be for going to someone's house for 2 hours after school.

I just take a contact number and the address of where they'll be.

chillikate Fri 16-Sep-11 22:14:59

I work full time and if I'm honest I think it will be rare that I can host a play date.

DS has been on a few playdates at nursery but only with people who are aware of my situation and that I cannot reciprocate, although we have had a few days out at the weekends with these families.

You should not feel pressured to conform but you may need to consider how much you can accept your DC going for playdates.

allag Fri 16-Sep-11 22:41:41

thank you. it is all very helpful. i would be happy to go to lengths to reciprocate, even if it involves taking half days off, but obviously would have to make the parents aware that I couldn;t just host any time. I also expect DD would need to be accompanied for a while if she is invited somewhere - given she is only four - so am also unsure of how it would work if we are not the host - DH wouldn't be great having a coffee with a mum. [laugh]. perhaps I should worry about it when DD actually gets invited! smile

Runoutofideas Sat 17-Sep-11 08:01:21

I wouldn't worry about it for now - just be friendly to anyone who looks nice in the playground. DD2 came home from her first week in reception yesterday asking if H could come and play. I just said "yes, one day", as I think they are too tired to deal with it at the moment, one week in!

My dd1 is in yr 2 and goes to play with friends/has friends to play regularly. One of her friends has parents who both work long hours so after-school is difficult for her. That child comes to us afterschool and misses afterschool club, but the mum often invites mine round on Saturday or Sunday mornings to reciprocate. I don't mind if it doesn't work out exactly even, as long as some sort of effort is made. Having friends to play does seem to be an important part of cementing their friendships within school.

Elibean Sat 17-Sep-11 10:57:14

Speaking as a non-working Mum, I have never had a problem with hosting other people's LOs for a play without it being reciprocated - we all know who is working and who can/can't host, and its fine. smile

It is nice when working mums acknowledge the situation, just with a simple 'thanks for having Xxxx, sorry I can't host back, wish I could' or something - but thats all.

As for playdates this early on, I think some of it is down to parents' anxieties about the LOs making friends - I had it with my dd1, but am far more relaxed with dd2. If your dd asks for plays after school, fine - and lovely that you have some time now to host a few plays, and explain future situation to other parents - but if she's exhausted, I wouldn't worry about it either.

pinkhebe Sat 17-Sep-11 11:02:18

FWIW my children didn't really do playdates until the later part of yr 1, apart from a friend that they made at playgroup.

An0therName Sat 17-Sep-11 11:10:22

we didnt do many play dates in the first term of reception as DS1 was really tired - if there seems to be a friend or two that she is particular keen on why not invite them -
we didn't do many accompanied play dates -most children had other siblings and it just got too complicated - but depends on the children of course
What wouldn't your DH and au pair/mum be keen - in my view its easier - the the kids go and play - you sort out any fights and make a few suggestion what to do - maybe give them tea - but I am pretty hands off
I expect most of the play dates are children and parents who already know each other/and may be informal child care etc

allag Sat 17-Sep-11 11:20:37

Thanks all. I guess actually, DH and the au pair, and even my mum, might be able to manage hosting - I also am pretty hands off when she has friends round apart from giving drinks/snacks or lunch or tea. they just seem to go off. i think it is if we got invited by a mum, DH would probably feel a bit silly sitting there trying "bond" with a mother but if she can be taken and then collected, then no probs. I think, like it's been said already, i shouldn't worry so much, especially this early on. DD has mentioned she likes one girl but hasn't asked for her to come and play and just seems to want to go home and collapse after school - so I will invite that girl round but in a couple of weeks perhaps.

Really appreciate all your input - makes me feel better that its' "OK" i am not already in the thick of them after two weeks of school and that my being a working mother does not mean the end of my daughter's social life. smile

AnyoneButLulu Sat 17-Sep-11 11:30:23

Normally I'd say don't stress, but actually in your position I would make a bit of an effort to have little friends and their mums over for playdates over the next couple of months while you still can, and can accompany DD on a reciprocal visit. Once those lines of communications are set up, and DD is familiar with the process of going to friends' houses then you'll be able to keep the process going and hand over the contacts to DH, but it will be much easier to start it off while you're still SAHM. Be a tiny bit pushy, ask DD who she likes and who she would like to come for tea and then ambush the relevant mothers and invite their little darlings round to tea (give the mother the choice between coming along or dropping and running, some reception children are fine with a drop and run, some need mum the first time).

chillikate Sun 18-Sep-11 22:23:39

Forcing friendships on 4/5 year old just doesn't feel right to me.

allag Mon 19-Sep-11 08:48:44

this is exactly what my DH says - let her make friends with who she wants. The thing is, it seems that if all the other kids are going to each other's houses (and it seems other mothers have been a lot more "at it" from day one) then she might be left out. I just don't know. i have asked her if she would like to have someone over and she has mentioned one girl so I will invite them in a couple of weeks. it's just that at the moment, she really just wants to go home and veg. she burst into tears when she bumped into her very good friend at the playground in the park after school as I think she just didn't have the energy to play with her. but equally i might be at work in a few weeks and then it will all be inevitably harder. Guess I will chat to the mum of the girl she mentioned and see what she thinks.

verybusyspider Mon 19-Sep-11 09:10:25

I worry about this too, I work but I start really early, dh does drop off and I do get to do pick up so playdates are possible. ds1 is now in year 1 and not really that interested in playdates last year, this year he wants some but I'm struggling to find the energy myself, I have 2 other lo's and after a day at work and them all hanging from being at nursery I don't really want another child to watch and then take home after a couple of hours, I also lack the confidence to ask other mums/dads if their lo wants to come over and dread them seeing the state of our house, daft I know, 2 weeks in I'm going to pluck up the courage to invite one over to play later in playground, hoping they don't say no, I really do think up to now its been about who the mum's know not about who their children want over

forehead Mon 19-Sep-11 14:09:36

FWIW, i didn't do playdates in Reception.
I work full time, so tend to have playdates during half term holidays. I usually have them for the whole day, as i know i will not be able to have any playdates during term time.

Eveiebaby Mon 19-Sep-11 20:54:41

I would not stress out about playdates in reception. Other kids may be going on them but it probably likely that the parents are good friends so that's why their kids go to each others houses. DD is in Y1 and playdates after school do not seem the norm at our school. Most kids seems to be picked up by their parents each day. I think the kids are just too tired for playdates at such a young age. FWIW I have a friend who's DD made best friends in nursery school they were inseperable but during Y3 they fell out - I think they had just outgrown each other.

allag Mon 19-Sep-11 21:13:43

thank you. i do agree they are too tired (well, my DD is ) - for the moment at least. apart from worrying about going back to work, we (well, DD) went to a horrendously cliquey nursery so I think I am just too sensitive at the moment. I will make every effort, but not until I think she can face it and not unless she seems keen on the idea and actually wants to invite someone. What with working, and DD being VERY happy going home and playing with her little sister, I don't think I will be having them as often as some, either. Thanks for all the advice.

sometimesinthefall Tue 20-Sep-11 10:45:14

Hello All, I am in the same boat (seem to be the only FT working mother at my daughter's school) and this thread has really cheered me up. I also come from a country where working mums tend to be the norm so this is quite a culture shock (and a guilt-fest) but I was really pleased to read such nice and reasonable advice here!

Bramshott Tue 20-Sep-11 10:58:04

I quite often have the DDs friends over for playdates on Saturdays. Some people don't like it because they are doing "family stuff" but others are really keen because they are ferrying other children around to football practice etc.

anniemac Tue 20-Sep-11 14:57:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunnysInTheGarden Tue 20-Sep-11 16:56:48

I had this problem last year as I work FT and DS1 gets collected by his childminder. They way I dealt with it was making a real effort to make friends with the other mums, going on the Reception Mums night out in the summer and inviting his friends to ours at weekends. I had to make a point of getting mobile numbers so that I could text and ask if X wanted to come over. Incidentally this goes totally against my nature and I really had to make an effort!
All this started to become more regular over the summer though, and it does take time to make these connections.

allag Tue 20-Sep-11 19:46:24

yes, guilt from working is a whole separate thing. Realizing now that with this new earlier bedtime after starting school (DD now asleep by 7.30) I will hardly see her at all in the week sad. But regarding playdates, thank you all so much, it is great to get a balanced view and to hear from others in a similar boat.

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