Play dates. Love them or hate them, they are a great way to get your child to socialize with their friends. Now that my two oldest are in elementary school, they are starting to invite friends over to the house. Sometimes we know the parents, but there have been times where we have set up "blind dates" for the boys. ("Blind date": The kids are friends in school, but we don't know the parents very well.) Before a play date I have a quick list of questions I ask, every single time – as if my child's life depended on it! (Because it does!)
I urge every mom out there to kindly, gently and openly share as much information as she can either before the playdate or at drop off. Below is the list of hot button topics that I always address upfront, so the other kid's mom doesn't have to tip-toe around the subject. I love full disclosure. We have nothing to hide and I want to reassure a fellow mom that her child will be treated with love and respect in a safe environment.
The 10 questions I ask before hosting a play date – without being asked
1. Are there any guns, knives, weapons or alcohol in the house?
This is ALWAYS the first information I disclose. It breaks the ice and calms the other mom instantly! We don't have any, but good follow-up information would be: How they are stored and who has access?
2. What pets are in the house?
We only have a friendly fish. However, letting the parents know about furry friends and their temperament is appropriate for kids with allergies and those who are fearful of dogs.
3. Who lives in the home?
I like to let new friends know up front that we have four boys, so they know that our house is lively.
4. Who will watch the kids?
I try to be home the entire time our kids have friends over. If I have to run out, I have the parent meet my husband who will then be watching them.
5. What time is drop off and pick up?
Setting the expectation up front of the length of the playdate helps both parties plan the rest of their day. I find that two to three hours is sufficient. I do shorter play dates if the kids have never played together before, just in case it isn't a match.
6. What are the planned activities?
No, I don't plan out a playdate ahead of time. It is up to the kids to decide what they want to do with their friends. However, I find it helpful to share the following:
And then I turn the table and ask the other parent a few questions.
Even if I know the child, I never assume that I have the answers to these questions.
7. Does the child have any medical conditions that I need to be aware of?
8. Are there any dietary restrictions or allergies?
Ask this even if the child isn't staying for mealtime. Kids ALWAYS get hungry on play dates, even if you filled them with a delicious lunch five minutes before. New house equals new snacks to explore! Trust me!
9. How can I reach them while their child is at our house?
I also make sure they have our contact information.
10. Does she want to see our house/the play area?
My husband knows by now that I offer parents to come inside. Before each playdate he is frantically vacuuming and picking up toys. It is tempting to schedule playdates just for the sake of getting a clean house!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Mama in the Now. It has been republished here with permission.
Tove Maren is a Danish-American mother of four boys, ages 8 and younger. She is a freelance writer and translator. Tove reports live from the trenches of motherhood where she writes about all things related to life love, laughter and LEGOs. You will find her encouraging, as she empowers you to parent by intuition and with confidence.