As the Social Chair and CEO (Chief Event Organizer) of my household, the calendar is my domain. When I see that the weekly calendar is looking sparse, I think to myself, “Uh oh! We need a playdate. Stat!” As a SAHM, this is more for me than my kids.
My oldest is 3. Until recently, playdates consisted of kids doing their own thing, just within a coordinated vicinity of each other–thanks to all the other household CEOs. My son is finally at a point where he actually interacts with friends during playdates, but that never mattered to me much. You see, I’ve been planning playdates since he was 6 months old. Why? Because Mama needs a change of scenery and mom time.
Motherhood can be lonely. I’m thankful to my mommy friends for spending time with me and my kids, while unknowingly nurturing my sanity. I love me some Mr. Grouper and Percy, but it’s nice to have conversations that aren’t just about Bubble Guppies or tank engine friends. I mean, sometimes you just want to talk to someone who doesn’t need you to remind them not to pick their nose or only poop in the toilet. Playdates are really a win-win for moms everywhere. It’s a “Get Out of Jail–I mean, House–Free” card and chance to bond with fellow moms, all while the kids burn off energy in the wild.
Why are playdates important for moms? I think of it as a form of self-care in the everyday mundane. You want to entertain your kids, but you also get to be entertained. During a playdate, kids get physical activity, moms get social interaction. Sure, you still end up talking about your kids a lot, but there’s camaraderie in that. As those playdates add up, you start to really love each other’s kids. Fewer things in life are better than a good friend who also loves your kids! With a good mommy friend, there’s no comparison or competition over who’s kid is excelling at what. There’s just empathy, encouragement, swapping potty training (horror) stories, an extra set of eyes to watch the littles, sharing sleep training methods, and a hug when you need it. Mommy needs a playdate because it’s good for her soul.
Here are my go-to ideas for mamas and kids playdate-ing on a budget!
- Park: The park before nap time makes for one good nap time. Find a nice bench in the shade, let those kids loose, and get chatting, mamas! If you feel like some physical activity, yourself, take the stroller and pick a park with a trail.
- Mall: (Window?) Shopping, kids play area, and access to food…all in one air conditioned space! Ever been to the mall food court around lunch time? Your kids don’t even have to use their indoor voices! Let the noise of your kids fade into the background as you catch up with your mommy friend.
- Zoo: Take the stroller, get your steps in, see all the animals, and leave with sleeping children. You pretty much have to make a whole afternoon of it, but with over 200 acres to explore, think of how much time you’d have for adult conversation. Make sure to walk back from Africa (yeah, you read that right), and you’ll feel extra about that glute workout. If you live in Jackson County, go when you have a pass for a free zoo day. So. Much. Winning.
- Lunch: Not all playdates have to be full of play. They say you can learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together. That’s especially true when you throw kids in the mix and have to learn the art of juggling conversation with making sure they eat SOMEthing. Going out to eat with kids may seem like a chore (let’s be honest, it’s not easy), but I’m a firm believer that it’s good for them every once in awhile. Start them young and teach them how to behave in those settings, practice manners, and try new foods. I usually vote for McAlister’s because $1 kids lunch!
- Target: Spend at your own discretion! Not responsible for damage done to your bank account. What do the kids get of this kind of playdate? Good behavior = something from the $1 bins. Surely I’m not the only mom who isn’t above a little bribery? Find one with a Starbucks, of course. Do I really need to say more? #basic