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AIBU?

Returning playdates - am I just being taken for a mug?

213 replies

Botox30k · 18/10/2022 06:51

Can't work out if I am being harsh here, or if I need to just accept this

Only child, 7yo DD, so despite full time jobs my DH and I try to make a massive effort with playdates . Daughter genuinely polite, well behaved , non demanding (I think, and I don't think I'm deluded)

Over summer took two extra day's leave and had 3 different children for full day, twice - park, fair, ice creams, nice lunch etc. Mums all super grateful in advance "oh they'd just be watching telly as we are working you are so kind" etc. But no contact since

First half term likewise have had 3 different ones back on 3 individual Thursdays (when I finish work earlier) . Tried to set up good play, pizza for dinner etc.

Not one invite back - and just one has said thanks

Is it me but isn't it polite to say thanks or even try and make the same offer back? I absolutely know you don't give to receive (expecting a Mumsnet hammering here) but blimey am I just seen as free childcare???

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

553 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
21%
You are NOT being unreasonable
79%
AnnapurnaSanctuary · 18/10/2022 06:54

There are definitely some people who don't really bother to do play dates. You've been a bit unlucky though if not one of these kids has invited her back!

arethereanyleftatall · 18/10/2022 06:55

Ah that's not fair at all op. I think you've been unlucky. You do get the odd cheeky fucker who doesn't reciprocate, but most do.

KellyJonesLeatherTrousers · 18/10/2022 06:56

Definitely polite to say thank you but I wouldn’t expect an offer back, it’s just not something everyone is comfortable doing or has the time to do.

EthicalNonMahogany · 18/10/2022 07:00

I'd love to do more playdates back but I don't have very much time off and our nanny doesn't always want to do them/can't drive to collect etc. So I know my children have been invited more than I've hosted. The problem is you can't do everything, and that's one of the things I've had to let go. If I was asking everyone for emergency childcare help without returning the favour that's different - but if someone invites my son round for a nice play, I just assume it's a no strings attached offer.

Most of the time it doesn't even help me financially or in terms of time- my childcare is locked down in advance & I have to pay for it whether they are there or not! And I wouldn't accept a playdate invite on a day I had no work + my children as I'll already have planned stuff to do with them or errands to run that need all of us (buying new school shoes etc)

drpet49 · 18/10/2022 07:00

KellyJonesLeatherTrousers · 18/10/2022 06:56

Definitely polite to say thank you but I wouldn’t expect an offer back, it’s just not something everyone is comfortable doing or has the time to do.

Not comfortable doing but happy for others to have their child all day? Cheeky fuckers I’d say.

RachelSq · 18/10/2022 07:08

I think it’s cheeky to not even have offered anything.

My DS did go on my a few more play dates than we could host (due to our working hours) but we always offered weekends play dates in return. In the end we ended up taking DS friends to class parties, as it was so hard to find matching free time for play dates on the weekend.

Boymumsoymum · 18/10/2022 07:08

Honestly OP a lot of people these days as cheeky fuckers. They won't trouble themselves to invite a kid back for 2 hours after school or on a Saturday morning because it's 'too hard work' (it's not, it's easy, the kids just play, you chuck nuggets/chips at them at 5pm) but they are always the same parents delighted for their offspring to come to you. It never occurs to these selfish people how that child feels, who's hosted THEIR child, to NEVER be invited back. I got sick of it so now only invite children where I know the parents reciprocate.

SilverGlitterBaubles · 18/10/2022 07:08

I would be very annoyed without at least a thank you. With regards to reciprocating play dates sometimes it can take a while as other people have work and other DCs to juggle so as you know fitting it in can be hard. Having said this I always let it be known that I wasn't in a position to reciprocate immediately but that I would do at some point even if it was months later.

PortiasBiscuit · 18/10/2022 07:11

I loved having kids at the house in the holidays. Meant the kids were busy and happy and generally outside.
Certainly hosted more play dates than were reciprocated but didn’t bother me at all.

Maltester71 · 18/10/2022 07:13

My children are much older, but I wish I’d never bothered with 90% of the things I did along the way that included other people’s kids.

this has included many sleepovers, play dates, Friday night Dominoes orders, lifts, organising residential trips and even a couple of holidays.

like you, I’m pretty sure my children are nice, well mannered etc, however I do feel I made such a lot of effort (and went to a lot of expense) and it wasn’t returned. You don’t do it for it to be returned, but there’s a fine line between that and cheeky fuckers.

The worst one for me was taking a girl on holiday with us, paying for all of her meals etc, then a month later her parents driving past my DD when she was waiting for a train and they were going in her direction. It’s a long story but she had a 200 mile journey to make and they happened to be driving through the same village at the same time, knowing she was travelling home alone and didn’t think to offer a lift. Their DD was in the car and everyone was going to the same place (home).

it honestly doesn’t seem to occur to people that you’ve put yourself out. The worst ones are those who exclaim ‘lucky me! A night off childcare!’

id stop it now before you really hate those parents!!

Weirdlynormal · 18/10/2022 07:17

I have definitely hosted more than have been offered, but people are very busy. I’d have kids over, but not roll the red carpet. You’re going beyond the normal expectations. The only child company aspect is also driving your offering, others don’t need that.

not to say thank you is rude!

PaperPalace · 18/10/2022 07:20

I agree with the poster suggesting you keep doing it (for your DD's benefit) but stop making such an effort - just keep it really low key. Then you won't mind so much if it's not reciprocated.

To be fair, the ones invited this half term haven't really had a chance to reciprocate yet. It usually takes a few weeks.

Pattygonia · 18/10/2022 07:20

Yeah this was us too - and it did use to bug me sometimes. But my two really liked having friends back and while I sighed inwardly that it was us hosting yet again it was worth it as my kids enjoyed it so much and got a lot out of it. It carried on so that we hosted more than our fair share of teenage parties but again, kids loved it and they always helped with the setting up and clearing away - and it meant I didn't have to pick them up at midnight from someone else's house

OneFrenchEgg · 18/10/2022 07:23

Maltester71 · 18/10/2022 07:13

My children are much older, but I wish I’d never bothered with 90% of the things I did along the way that included other people’s kids.

this has included many sleepovers, play dates, Friday night Dominoes orders, lifts, organising residential trips and even a couple of holidays.

like you, I’m pretty sure my children are nice, well mannered etc, however I do feel I made such a lot of effort (and went to a lot of expense) and it wasn’t returned. You don’t do it for it to be returned, but there’s a fine line between that and cheeky fuckers.

The worst one for me was taking a girl on holiday with us, paying for all of her meals etc, then a month later her parents driving past my DD when she was waiting for a train and they were going in her direction. It’s a long story but she had a 200 mile journey to make and they happened to be driving through the same village at the same time, knowing she was travelling home alone and didn’t think to offer a lift. Their DD was in the car and everyone was going to the same place (home).

it honestly doesn’t seem to occur to people that you’ve put yourself out. The worst ones are those who exclaim ‘lucky me! A night off childcare!’

id stop it now before you really hate those parents!!

God yes, I've been taken for an absolute mug at times.

user1477391263 · 18/10/2022 07:24

I don't keep tabs on reciprocating, and like others I enjoy giving playdates and have a bigger place than many of my friends.

The lack of a thankyou is awful, though. My friends who are not in a position to easily reciprocate always express gratitude and some of them send a little gift like coffee, tea, some chocolate etc.

TheYearOfSmallThings · 18/10/2022 07:27

I also have an only child, and it suits me to have lots of playdates for him. He enjoys it, and I can get on with something while he plays with his friend. I don't go out of my way to take them out or spend money on them or arrange activities, I just let them get on with it and maybe offer an oven pizza. I know it won't necessarily suit the other parents to be holding playdates (multiple kids, no time, messy house, grumpy husband who works nights, excitable dog) so I don't worry if they are reciprocated. Over time I find it balances itself out though.

The children should absolutely say thanks, obviously. Playdates are great for getting to know which kids have manners!

notanothertakeaway · 18/10/2022 07:27

We probably hosted more than was reciprocated, but it didn't bother me at all. I liked having the kids over

It's your choice to take them out for the day, so you shouldn't complain if others don't do that

Unexpecteddrivinginstructor · 18/10/2022 07:30

Unfotunately as a parent of an only child, you probably need them more than they need you. With three children playdates used to be an all or nothing affair because if one or two had a friend over but one didn't then the one without a friend would want to play with the friends. Although, in the main, my three played really well together their friends didn't always want a younger sibling tagging along so it would cause conflict. Some children can find it hard to accept playing with a younger child/ child opposite sex so it becomes hard work with a guest trying to shut a younger sibling out of a room because they are 'too young' or 'a boy'. This means trying to co ordinate with three different sets of parents. I did do it a couple of times a month at times and now as teens their friends are still welcome here but it did take an effort.

The other thing to consider is whether they are as much friends with her as she is with them. Sometimes the parents might be keen for someone to look after their dc and the child gets on ok, but they wouldn't be their first choice of child to invite back. As a parent (and I have been in that position) you have to decide whether it is better to have a one sided approach knowing you have to do all the leg work or not do as many playdates.

MbatataOwl · 18/10/2022 07:33

Don't invite children over if you can't understand that some parents are unable to reciprocate play dates.

bigmol · 18/10/2022 07:34

My ds has definitely been on more play dates than I've hosted. It's nothing personal, I'm just busy. Ds has been to one kids house about 4-5 times, when i messaged his mum (who is super lovely and fun and genuinely seems to like have loads of kids round...odd Grin) about him coming to us she actually told not to feel the need to reciprocate. I like her a lot.

RedAngel19 · 18/10/2022 07:39

To offer a different perspective in case its helpful and you don't feel so bad about playdates not being reciprocated.

I often don't reciprocate. I try but I often don't have time. Weekends are also full as my kids have activities and I also need that time to do all the stuff I didn't have time to do during the week as we both work full time. I also want that time to connect with my kids as I feel the school week is usually busy and I don't see them until later once after school club is done.

We also have an untidy and very small house compared to our kids' friends. It bothers me. A couple of their friends have also commented how small our house is (they are nice kids, they didn't mean it nicely but more a factual observation and they didn't quite have the maturity to keep the thought in their head), so being very frank, I'm also a little bothered our place isn't as nice and doesn't have as many toys to play with. When my kids are invited, I always offer to have the kids at mine if they prefer but each time the host parent prefers to it be at theirs.

My kids also get on very well with each other so I don't feel the need for playdates for company. I have noticed that a few of their friends either don't have siblings or have siblings they don't play with usually as the age gap is large. So they want the company of other kids hence many playdates. I've been specifically told my parents with only child that they want my child as company for theirs on days out during school holidays as their child enjoys it more than if it was just them and the parent. I always give extra cash to my child in that case to treat the other child to ice cream etc and I usually thank the parent with a bottle of wine. Being totally honest? I would rather my kid isn't gone the whole day as I miss them and want to spend time with them. I don't know if this applies to the OP but that's another reason I don't reciprocate playdates often. I don't feel the need to playdates and my kids are still happy to hang out with me and the dog!

My kids don't ask for them but are always to go if invited. They are both well liked, well mannered, very well behaved and easy to have over (I'm told). I'm always appreciative and always help out the parents in other ways. E.g. I do a lot of lift shares and always happy to pick up, drop back and supervise their kids at class birthday parties. If another working parent needs me to step in and help pick up their kids after school, I always do this as well. The parents know I don't reciprocate but equally they know I give back in other ways.

As I have such precious little downtime with my kids, I don't want to host playdates in my free time. I want to do stuff with my kids. They are happy to spend time with me as we are close and they see their mates everyday during term time! So I don't even see it the hosting parents don't me a favour especially as I don't need the childcare and it means more work for me as I have to pick them up (we are somewhere meaning we have to drive). Plus if one child gets one, the other feels it's unfair and wants one too which means more mental load for me to try coordinate schedules with another parent.

DH and I are also from cultures where playdates aren't a thing. I feel it's a very English thing! There is a very big focus on playdates that simply doesn't exist in either of our cultures where outside of school hours is family time.

To sum up OP, parents that don't reciprocate aren't necessarily being cheeky or taking advantage. Consider that they might be seeing it as doing you a favour when they accept a playdate. Or there might be reasons why they can't easily reciprocate but it isn't to offend. They may not even be aware that it bothers you as it would never bother me if our invites aren't reciprocated. When we do host them, it's always no strings attached and I'd expect the same when we get an invite.

Simply offering another perspective even if other posters don't agree.

Will now don a hard hat and run away!

RedAngel19 · 18/10/2022 07:40

Excuse the many typos. Fat thumbs and mobile!

Mummadeze · 18/10/2022 07:41

I have been on both sides. I was desperate for help when my DD was little and had no time or energy to reciprocate really due to my circumstances. I was grateful though and gave thank you gifts. Now I have more time and money, I host really fun play dates including activities. But my DD is an only child and I do it for her. Her current friends’ parents don’t reciprocate often but I don’t mind and assume they have their reasons.

SmileyClare · 18/10/2022 07:43

I can't imagine the parents not thanking you?

When you contact them to arrange the playmate, they don't thank you?

When the child is dropped home or collected, they don't thank you or remind their child to say thanks for having me?

That's unusual (and lacking any basic manners).

Confrontayshunme · 18/10/2022 07:46

With my eldest (DD10), playdates were always returned, and parents were lovely. My youngest (DD5) is nicer and we have hosted quite a few, but they are not returned. I think covid has made people more insular and also houseproud. A few of her friends are less well off and in cramped flats with big families and two parents working, so I assume they are just busy.

But it IS really hard to say "No you can't go to John's house without an invite." She has finally stopped asking.

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