Do You Follow Playdate Etiquette?

Parents share their rules for successful playdates

playdate rules

When we were kids, playdates were simple. Playdates consisted of running around outside or making up games, while mom checked in every so often. Our parents were minimally involved in the playdate preparation, the activities and the clean up. 

Modern playdates do not share the same carefree feeling. Your child's playdate may come over with an iphone, a list of foods they cannot eat, or come from a home with very different rules than yours.

Playdates may be more complex these days, but can still be a blast for kids (and a necessary break for parents) if everyone understands the playdate rules.

We asked parents to share some of their play date rules with us:

House Rules

  • No tattling unless there's blood or fire. (Fully Caffeinated Canadian Mom)
  • No feet on the furniture, (no jumping or walking on my couches or beds). I can't tell you how many lamps have been broken from kids jumping from my ottoman to my couch. (Mommy in Sports)
  • No technology. If a friend is over to play, the kids are going to play. They can go in the backyard, make art projects, play board games, but no tv, ipad, or phones. (Jen Simon)
  • When kids come over to play, they play together, non-electronically. Electronics are for when I need to ignore my children when they're alone. Or when our neighborhood playdates extend from mommy happy hour to past dinner, we'll put on a movie around 8. (The Dusty Parachute)
  • Our house rules are the same as usual, but when we have a guest I've been teaching my daughter how to be hospitable - making the friend comfortable and welcome, offering a drink, walking them out when they leave.(Victoria Fedden)
  • If the weather is nice, you're playing outside (mostly so I get some peace, but don't tell the kids that). (Maxisms)
  • We always have the "be polite and use your manners" talk before each playdate, especially if my daughter will be spending time at another house. Also, not so much anymore, but when she was a wee tot, my daughter had a few "But I don't wanna leave!" meltdowns, so we've established the "five more minutes" warning signal. Once I tell her it's time to go, she has a few minutes to prepare herself to leave, and if she throws a fit, then there are other consequences at home like no TV or no playdate again that week, etc. She's five now, and we rarely have any whining or crying when it's time to go. (One Committed Mama)
  • I like to give the parent a heads up before I am on my way so they can let my child know there are 10 or 15 minutes left. This helps avoid a meltdown when I show up to retrieve my child and she refuses to leave.
  • Playdates are 2 hours, max. (GITMom)

Snacks

  • BYOS: Bring your own snack. It's not about being cheap or a bad hostess. If you child has dietary restrictions or allergies, just bring your own. I don't want to screw up and buy or feed them the wrong thing. (Autism with a Side of Fries)
  • Always bring enough snacks and toys for everyone. My son is an only child that has no problem sharing and I think it's because I was always the mom who brought toys and food for everyone and not just him. (MomCo)

Clean up

  • One rule I am firm on - everyone helps to pick up when the playdate is over. It's no fun cleaning up by yourself! (Nap Time is my Time)
  • I never let the mom pick up afterwards, it is my gift to her. (The kids are always welcome to help). (It's Really 10 Months)

Toys

  • Any toy that is out is fair game. If there's something my son doesn't want to share with other kids, he has to put it away before the play date. (Mom Cave)
  • I always made sure that my kids didn't bring out any toy they just couldn't share, like a beloved stuffed animal and I would hide it till the playdate was over. I also never let them bring it if we were going out to one. And I also made sure I had plenty of the same toys, like balls, bubbles, that type of stuff. Kept battles really down. (My Dishwasher's Possessed)

Remember, playdates are for the kids. Parents do not need to entertain or referee. Playdates give kids an opportunity to socialize, take turns, compromise, make decisions and negotiate. Allow your kids the space to figure those things out themselves.

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