When you're a mom, playdates can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Sure, sometimes they're fun and wonderful opportunities for kids to hone those all-important social skills, but they're also fertile ground for meltdowns and tantrums during which your child's poor impulse control is on display for all to see. There will be times when you feel like a hot mess of a mom, but with a little planning and lots of luck, there will also be play date moments that prove you're a total badass.
As a stay-at-home mom, playdates are my bread and butter. In fact, I've come to need them just as much as my baby does. It's how I've met most of my friends since we moved to a new state, so I'm as thankful for the social aspect as I'm convinced my child is. My little girl and I were lucky enough to meet another mom and daughter pair with whom we really click. My child's now BFF is about six months older, and she's a great teacher (my darling doesn't say many words, but now they both respond to everything with an adorable "yeah").
Watching my daughter and her new bestie chase after one another, share favorite toys, and kiss one another goodbye is everything, and those play date moments sure makes me feel like I'm doing something right in the mom department.
When Someone Shared
Toddlers are basically the seagulls in Finding Nemo. Everything is, "Mine! Mine! Mine!" It's a normal part of their development, but there are things you can do to encourage sharing. You should never force your kid to hand over a toy, per se, but you should encourage, model, and give opportunities for them to give up the goods on their own.
Your kid just may surprise you, offering his play date buddy the last bite of PB&J or handing over his bear. Praise the heck out of that kid, and save some kudos for yourself, you badass mom you.
When You Successfully Prepped Your Kid
Moms know that playdates can be prime time for some Jekyll-Hyde behavior, so they take a few minutes to prep their minion. Let your child know the location, guest list, and planned activities.
If you're hosting, talk about sharing and maybe try some role play. Have a sharing strategy. Is there a special toy or lovey that's off limits? Put it away in the closet. Badass moms know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and reap the benefits when they avoid sticky play date situations.
When Your Snack Was A Hit
Sometimes I think Pinterest exists to make moms feel bad about themselves. I'm not saying you have to create a fruit platter in the shape of a candy corn (been there, done that) and if that's your jam, more power to you. However, goldfish crackers and apple slices can be just as rad. Bonus badass points if you serve coffee to your adult guests, too.
When The Kids Got Dirty And/Or Wet
To hear my mom tell it, my grandma would turn her and my uncles away at the front door if they weren't dirty because they clearly hadn't had enough fun. Badass moms don't worry about having to mop up after an afternoon at the water table or brush sand off happy kiddos.
They do, however, scoop up the backyard "treasures" because even badass moms don't want to spend the whole play date digging dog poop out of the tread of toddler shoes with a bamboo skewer.
When The Mom Who Visited Had Fun, Too
Play dates are for the moms just as much as they are for the kids. Badass moms supervise without hovering (the kids need to learn to problem solve anyway). This leaves them time to vent about their kids' latest behavioral challenges, get advice about feeding and sleeping, and generally trade war stories.
When The Kids Completed A Craft
Again with the Pinterest. It's a love-hate relationship because, well, there are actually a number of easy activities to try on the damn thing. So no, a gaggle of toddlers does not need to recreate Sleeping Beauty's castle out of popsicle sticks, but they can decorate cookies (bonus badass points for getting to lick their fingers) and stick glittery gumdrop stickers on a foam gingerbread house.
You could also try a simple sensory activity, like filling a gallon Ziploc bag with shaving cream and food coloring. It's just a no mess, squishy good time!
When No One Suffered Bodily Harm
I'm not talking about boo-boos that you can kiss and make better. Those are inevitable and a great opportunity to share your awesome superhero bandaids. I'm talking about the more concerning battle scars. For example, when I was little my friends and I were jumping on a trampoline in the dark and swinging a baseball bat because, apparently, childhood. We broke my friend's glasses and gave her a giant black eye.
So, if everyone is walking away from your play date with limbs in tact, you can count it a success.
When You Were Able To Enjoy An Outing
Your cool mom status is secured when you introduce another mom and her kid(s) to a great place to play. Maybe it's a super fun play structure at a local park, your favorite story time at the library, or an open gym at your cheer/tumbling/gymnastics facility. When the other mama comments, "I'm so glad you introduced us to this place," you can sit back and revel in your own badassery.
When You Ended On A High Note
Playdates, by nature, are never perfect. Someone is going to grab something from someone else, and that someone else will probably cry, and you may have to deal with hitting or pushing.
Ending the get-together well helps all the children leave with a good taste in their mouths, which is important for future social gatherings. When your kid pulls it together at the end and gives their friend hugs, that's a proud mama moment.
When You Receive A Reciprocal Invitation
The play date is over, Junior is down for a nap, and you get the best text to ever be sent in the history of texts: "We had a great time. We'd love to host you next week!"
The sweetest badass moment is knowing you've done a good job, and even better, you don't have to plan the next play date. #Winning