You know how it was pre-baby when you used to go on dates? You had good ones and bad ones, and ones that, ahem, provided fodder for a hilarious anecdote to be shared with friends.
Now that you’re a mum, you’ve “graduated” to a different kind of date altogether: Playdates.
Indeed, time seems to pass a whole lot quicker when your munchkin has got little pals to play with, and you’re in the company of other women who share the same sorrows ― yes, we’re talking about waking up at 3am to a stroppy demand for a sandwich, or dealing with the 2-year-old who goes into a full-blown meltdown every time you wait in line at the supermarket checkout counter.
However, not all mums have their playdate etiquette in check. From those who leave your home in a mess, to those who question your every move as a parent, you start to wonder why you even started to go on these “dates” in the first place.
Set up a waterproof changing mat, and provide a packet of wipes and some diaper rash cream for everyone’s use.
So, keep calm and carry on ― we tell you how to deal when you encounter a pesky playdate parent.
The drop-off mum
This mum thinks nothing of having a sip of coffee, asking about your day, then suddenly proclaiming, “Goodness, I forgot to head to the bank! Could you watch my son for me, I’ll be right back!” She scurries out of the door, and only heads back when the playdate is, um, over.
HOW TO DEAL Hello? When did this become a free babysitting service? We all know that being a mum is tough ― just an hour or two of free time can be heavenly. But don’t assume that other mums will obligingly watch your child while you take a breather ― hey, we’re all in this together! It may be too late to do anything during particular playdate, but when she returns, gently remind her that if she needs help babysitting in future, you are there to help, but it would be nice if you get a heads up and it’s not something she should spring on you.
The competitive mum
Yes, we know her little genius was the first in the group to crawl, say her ABCs and 123s, and self-feed. But we really don’t need reminders that our own little cuties are lagging behind.
HOW TO DEAL Don’t get emotionally invested in the competition or comparing. If her child is a fast learner, good for her. Of course, if you’re concerned about your child’s development, see a paediatrician. If the kiasu mum repeatedly tries to show off her little one’s prowess and it’s getting on to your nerves, divert the conversation to an adult-oriented one. Ask her about her vacation plans, or if she’s seen any new movies lately.
The diaper-everywhere mum
So, her peewee has a soiled diaper, but before you can direct her to your changing table in the bedroom, she plops the little guy down on your fabric couch and starts changing him right there. Mum Elysa Oh was horrified when her pal did just that, and ― eeks ― stained her couch. “There was a mark, and my friend tried to clean it off quickly with a wet wipe. Most of the stain was removed, but goodness, that was just so gross! I had to send the couch covers to be dry cleaned that very day!”
HOW TO DEAL If you know that a bunch of diaper-clad bums are entering your home, organise a temporary changing station for everyone’s convenience. Set up a waterproof changing mat, provide wipes and some diaper rash cream for every guest’s use. Besides getting an award for most thoughtful playdate host, you’ll prevent any diapering accidents or ghastly stains.
What about the mum who just refuses to leave? Tips ahead!
The comment-on-your-home mum
Inviting fellow mums over for playdate seems like a great idea, till one of them comments on the state of your home. A pile of laundry on the couch? Kids’ toys sprawled over your living room floor? Heck, even the paint colour of your walls?
HOW TO DEAL After getting over the initial shock (and possible embarrassment), remind yourself that these are just opinions and not facts. The facts are that unfolded laundry means that you make the most of your time with your kids instead of busying yourself with housework, and toys around the home means that play ranks high among your priorities. Laugh it off and share these pearls of wisdom with any other judgmental mamas out there!
Chicken nuggets and popcorn may be common items on the playdate menu for tots, but the micromanaging mum will take the opportunity to remind you how nasty they are for your kids’ health and suggest you bake some organic apple chips in your oven instead. When it comes to playtime, she’ll swoop in and line the kids up to play the board game she’d brought. You start to think, “I thought I was hosting the playdate?”
HOW TO DEAL Ask her if she has any specific plans for the playdate beforehand. Also, check with her if her child requires special food, or if she would like to suggest any snacks. If she gets too involved with the way the kids are playing, say, “Hey the kids are playing, that gives us time to relax!” or simply remind her that free play for kids has awesome benefits!
Unfolded laundry means that you make the most of your time with your kids…and toys around the home means that play ranks high among your priorities.
The lingering mum
It’s a tea-time playdate and you’ve line up dinner with the gramps. But when 6pm rolls around, the lingering mum is… still lingering. She’s showing no signs of leaving even when everyone else has left, and you are urgently dropping hints that you need to clean up your munchkin and get her ready for dinner.
HOW TO DEAL Set a time frame for the playdate way beforehand. If you have 6pm plans, tell your pals that you’re only available till 5pm ― that gives you a half hour buffer in case you’ve got over-stayers. This still leaves you enough time to ready your brood to go out. Half an hour before it’s supposed to end, gently remind the mums (don’t do this more than once!) that you have dinner plans, so that they have time to get their kiddos ready, too. Trust us, they’ll thank you for being considerate!
The no-cleanup mum
Everyone’s having a great time, and then one mum stands up and say, “Sorry to break this up, but I need to head off now”. Right away, all the other parents follow suit and start saying their goodbyes, leaving you to, urgh, pick up after theirs and their kids’ messes.
HOW TO DEAL Remember that your friends aren’t obliged to help you clean up ― the onus to do so is on you as the host. That said, it’s simply showing courtesy when you do offer to clean up another person’s home, so start creating a routine where everyone helps with cleanup, 10 minutes before the playdate ends, no matter who is hosting it. Plus, getting the kids to help put away the toys and wipe down surfaces helps to instil some responsibility in them!
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