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Is is no longer acceptable to ignore the children during playdates?

(71 Posts)
DoMyBest Sat 24-Jan-15 21:47:19

I've never really been a huge one for playdates. I did a few when my children were 2 then 3 years old, then stopped. I never really thought about why - I suppose I put it down to being disorganised. I tended to suggested lunches instead when the children were at school.

But now my children are 5 and 6 years old, I've started doing the odd playdate with friends with children the same age - partly to have 'time off' from playing with my child during weekends/holidays, but mostly to catch up with old friends whilst our children play. Visions of my mother, when I had playdates, banning us from the sitting room and telling us to go play upstairs as she and a girlfriend would drink tea or wine, gossip and laugh for what seemed like hours whilst we happily entertained ourselves without them meant I'd really look forward to each playdate. The sort of proper girly time I rarely get now I'm rarely out past 7pm...

But I keep finishing playdates feeling disappointed. I've noticed that, whether the playdate's at mine or theirs, the mothers tend to prioritise their children above, well, me! The most recent one - at which I brought lunch to a girlfriends, we ate it with the children then they went off to play - started so well. But when, 5 minutes later, stuck into a juicy conversation, her child returned to say he wanted to play a complicated game he needed our help with and I suggested they just choose one of the other 50 or so toys in the house so we could carry on gossiping - my friend suddenly agreed help, laid the game out on the kitchen table and proceeded to play it for the next hour with her child as we struggled to grasp it, whilst encouraging him to recite his times tables (all the way to 100 - it took forever). She eventually saw how bored both I, and my child, were so I jumped at her idea of a trip to the local library. Again, visions of us sitting and chatting as our children leafed through the pictures of books (mine doesn't read very well but he'll happily sit for half an hour flicking). But no, she started reading her son a long story and that was that, no chatting.

This is just one example. On hindsight, all my playdates with anlgo-saxon mums have been like this (the French are the total opposite: they crack open a bottle of wine at lunch and don't notice their children unless there's been a serious emergency). And, on hindsight, the reason I stopped doing toddler playdates was for the same reason. But, whereas toddlers need help going to the loo, eating, being supervised, etc, older children don't.

So here's my question: has playdate etiquette changed since the last generation? Is it now no longer acceptable to ignore children during playdates? And, if playdates are now all about focusing not just on your, but other people's, children - which just feels like even harder work to me - what's the advantage to mothers of having them at all?

meglet Sat 24-Jan-15 21:49:34

no, we try and leave the children to it.

Artandco Sat 24-Jan-15 21:51:21

Yep it seems like that here also. On our last play date the mum was dragged into play tent and started playing tea parties before I had even closed the door properly...

DoMyBest Sat 24-Jan-15 21:51:35

Why aren't you my friend?! Sigh.

Groovee Sat 24-Jan-15 21:54:38

My friend and I have always more or less left our children to it bar when they were babies.

Smartiepants79 Sat 24-Jan-15 21:54:43

Mine are still a bit little but I generally leave them to it unless there is screaming.
I have to intervene sometimes and would read to both children if they wanted a story.
I like to have a good gossip if I can!

DoMyBest Sat 24-Jan-15 21:57:25

I wonder why some mothers focus more on the children than their (adult) friends during the playdate. Is it because they genuinely find the children more interesting? (in which case I really need to get some new friends). Is it peer pressure (I cant be seen to be ignoring my child, i'll seem like an irresponsible mother). Is it to show off (look, Martin just cant help himself wanting to do complicated equations despite being 5, but I really ought to help him with the tough ones)? Is it guilt (I don't spend nearly enough time with it, and now I'm fobbing it off to another child so I can relax - such a bad mum) etc? Is it a security thing? (you never know, upstairs they might jump out of a window/swallow a toothbrush etc)?

IDontDoIroning Sat 24-Jan-15 21:57:31

Mine are well past that age now - but my view was unless there was blood shed I left them to their own devices.

HumphreyCobbler Sat 24-Jan-15 21:58:27

Lord, I would be gutted if I had to play with the children. That is why you go on a playdate, so that they can bugger off and amuse themselves. I do enough meaningful interaction with my own children at home.

tshirtsuntan Sat 24-Jan-15 21:59:11

No adult intervention unless there is blood grin I believe our children have too much adult intervention in their lives (even at school) and should learn to be independent/negotiate. When were children we would have been outside with whoever the neighbourhood threw up, not condoning that now but at home for a couple of hours-bugger off and play....

HumphreyCobbler Sat 24-Jan-15 21:59:12

Making the child recite the times tables at a playdate seems very OTT.

Pancakeflipper Sat 24-Jan-15 22:01:07

I am a leave them to get on with it. In fact I classify a good playdate (I hate typing that term) one where I don't see much of the children except to feed.

DoMyBest Sat 24-Jan-15 22:01:35

Seriously, where are all you mumsnetters and why don't we hang out more?! You seem so... normal (in a good way).

Ilikesweetpeas Sat 24-Jan-15 22:05:44

Can I be friends with you OP. Bring your DC here for a play date. I have wine...

HumphreyCobbler Sat 24-Jan-15 22:05:49

Keep looking OP, they can't ALL be like that. There must be some normal people out there!

I bet you are not in South Wales like me, I have not come across this type.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Sat 24-Jan-15 22:06:44

tshirtsuntan that sounds like a conversation we have very often indeed in the Hearts household:
DD1 or DD2: "Muuuuuuuuummmmm she is <insert heinous crime here>"
Me: Are you bleeding?
DD: No
Me: Are you dying?
DD: No
Me: Then I don't want to hear about it!

itiswhatitiswhatitis Sat 24-Jan-15 22:08:55

I remember my friend coming round with her 6 month old (mine were at school) at one point she stopped talking and took a book out of her nappy bag and started reading the baby a story whilst I sat there like a lemon.

HumphreyCobbler Sat 24-Jan-15 22:10:45

My ds used to follow me around with books, hitting me with them until I read them to him. So I used to hide the books when people came round blush

sunnyfrostyday Sat 24-Jan-15 22:14:45

Leave them to it! One of DS1's friends is chatty - I just shoo him back into the playroom. grin

Dorisdolalee Sat 24-Jan-15 22:15:00

There is little point in a playdAte unless the kids entertain each other / the grow ups can gossip/ there is wine or tea biscuits

DoMyBest Sat 24-Jan-15 22:16:04

I'm beginning to wonder if they just don't actually notice they're doing it. On this last playdate I mentioned I finally said something along the lines of 'gosh, what an awful mother I am, for me playdates are all about ignoring the children so I can catch up with friends' and my friend said 'oh I agree'. Which - considering she'd just ignored me for 2 hours - left me speechless.

Lyinginwait888 Sat 24-Jan-15 22:17:19

Ugh. Even worse when glitter glue comes out.

Piss off.

IthinkIneedmorewine Sat 24-Jan-15 22:19:21

North Wales? I see this all the time, I'm sure hey all think I'm a terrible parent!

RebekahMikaelson Sat 24-Jan-15 22:21:36

My best friend and I met on a playdate with our eldests, we bonded over the fact I offered her wine.

Wotsitsareafterme Sat 24-Jan-15 22:25:07

I used to get really frustrated about this with one particular friend who was flipping fascinating and I loved talking to her but she was such a helicopter parent I barely got two words out of her over several hours hmm

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