4 Hours Isn’t a Playdate — It’s Free Babysitting

play dates

Yo, listen up!

Playdates are part of my life — even more so now that I’m a full-time stay at home mom. It’s part of my job to juggle Jasper and Magnolia‘s social schedules in and around their school time. And that’s cool. But a recent request  made me realize that I have a couple of, um, ideas about these little get-togethers. A mom I know was looking to schedule a 4-hour drop-off playdate for her child while she took care of a work obligation. And this wasn’t the first time I’d had a similar request from this (very sweet) family.

Which got me thinking. Here’s the thing about playdates….

They generally shouldn’t last longer than an hour or two, thank you very much. 4 hours isn’t a playdate — it’s free babysitting. And….

There should be an informal reciprocal pattern, just as there is for dinner invitations with adults. You bring your kid to my house for a while — whether you stay while they play or not — and I’d like to be able to look forward to the same. The mom in question (a woman I like a lot) has left her child with me probably four or five times and Jasper has never once been invited to their house for a playdate.

Not that I’m keeping score or anything, but let’s be fair. An hour or two without a kid is bonus time — found, free time to get something done either for work or for yourself. I’m happy to child-mind for a bit, but I’d love it if I could expect to drop my kid with you, too, at some point.

Oh, and another thing, while we’re at it.

Please be punctual for pick-up times. If I say I’ll be back to pick up my child in an hour and a half, unless all hell breaks loose, I’ll be ringing your doorbell in an hour and 29 minutes. Not because I’m an anal, time-obsessed freak (although there is a bit of truth to that, too), but more important, because I value your time. I know you’re busy and on a schedule and have a million things to do. I’d appreciate the same consideration.

So, you know, feel free to call me up for some super-fun playdates with the kids! But if what you really need is a half-day of childcare, call a babysitter, please.

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