We’ve all been there. I sure have! Your (my) kid wants to have a playdate with an obnoxious child that you can’t stand. That sounds so harsh, but how else am I supposed to describe the 7-year-old who makes it snow Legos in my clean living room? Who yanks on my sweet Golden Retriever’s tail. Who opens my closed bedroom door and jumps on my neatly made bed (the throw pillows dammit!). And the whole time, my kid – who is no angel is standing by, looking really horrified — but still, loves this kiddo to death.
I recently took my problem up with some of my friends who gave me some really great advice. If your kid is having a playdate with a pint-size Rambo anytime soon, read and learn:
Hide “problem” toys. So, I recently explained to my son that I am putting his giant bin of Legos in my bedroom closet and that there is no Lego happening during the play-date (see living room incident). Of course my son WHY’ED me to death and I told him the truth. I don’t want to clean up a giant mess — and it’s not fair for you to clean it up either. And I don’t want our puppy choking!
Expensive electronics are off limits. Look, if it’s raining, the kids can watch a 30-minute cartoon or camp out on the floor with pillows, popcorn, and a movie, but the iPad, iPod, and MY iPhone are off limits to sticky little hands who don’t know the value of these products. My son earned the right to play games, both educational and fun. He knows he has to sit on the soft couch with the iPad (Hi! Those screens crack.) He can use my iPhone if we are waiting on a long line to eat or checkout at a store. He’s my son — he can use my expensive stuff.
Join in on the fun. Honestly, the kids are 7. I feel like I’ve earned the right to let my guard down so the kids play, but with this little monster, that is not possible. My friend suggested a fun game of scrabble, baking something, or a coloring contest. After that activity, I can make it a big deal for the boys to play on their own by saying, “Whoa, you guys tired me out! I need to rest — you can go play by yourselves now.”
Set rules from the beginning. I def slack on enforcing rules during playdates, because sometimes it seems easier to just let them play and then handle the mess on my own. However, new rules: After you take out a toy to play with it goes back where it lives. Wash hands after art projects. No food outside of the kitchen. Take a 15-minute chill break to have some water and a healthy snack — and to calm down.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to open up to the mom. I would never ever, bitch to a mom about her energetic kid or how he leaves a trail of crumbs all over my house. But, I honestly don’t feel I should have to lock my bedroom door to keep him out. (I’m going through Cancer treatment and have a cocktail of meds on my night stand — safety-capped of course, but this is MY private space.) And then there’s the issue of this kid jumping on my furniture. It’s not something I allow. So, I think I’ll bring these two things up delicately to the mom.
Do you guys have any play-date tips to keep everyone happy?