I feel like this is a shameful thing to admit, a dirty secret I’ve managed to keep hidden through seven and a half years of motherhood. But the thing is, I haven’t always liked play-dates.
Hear me out.
In the early baby days play-dates were OK, until the baby started crying, which could be any sodding time. I have memories of countless “play-dates” walking up and down with a screaming baby, apologising, while other babies gurgled serenely, smiling up at their mothers who were peacefully drinking hot cups of tea.
Sometimes a play-date went well. Bouyed with enthusiasm I’d line up ten more, cramming them in faster than a line of Dairy Milk into my mouth on a Friday night. Inevitably both me and my baby would suffer play-date fatigue syndrome after play-date number four, at which point I’d be desperately thinking up my excuses to dodge the next one scheduled for that afternoon.
And of course we all know a “play-date” with a baby is a pretty pointless thing. There is no playing involved and until they get to the age of about three they have no interest in the other child anyway. It’s all about the mums, which is no bad thing, if you can actually hear the other mother speak over the noise of screaming children.
Despite my love/hate relationship with play-dates I’ve always done them and, on many an occasion, been the play-date instigator. Call me a sucker for punishment, but my reasoning was, “It could be the ONE play-date that goes right!”. Plus, I’m a sociable person and as much as I loved my babies their conversations were often a bit one-sided.
Anyway, recently I’ve got into the art of the play-date again. And it is an art. Because so many things have to come together for a play-date to be successful. Your children have to be in the mood, for starters. They have to be not tired, not cold, not hungry. They have to be up for sharing (always a bit hit and miss). They have to be excited by the prospect of what’s on offer and not cajoled into leaving something else they think is more fun. It’s not always easy.
But when the stars and universe do align to offer up the perfect play-date conditions a successful play-date can be a thing of beauty. One where they children play together and the mums can chat. One where you walk away at the end with a feeling of smug satisfaction and a tiny hint of #winning at #mumlife.
Last Friday I had one such experience. We were up north visiting Simon’s family (the girls were flower girls at his brother’s wedding – cute!) offering up a fantastic opportunity to catch up with my blogging pal Colette from We’re Going On An Adventure, who lives very near Si’s parents. Keeping up?
Despite a challenging couple of days with the girls and a few frantic “warning” texts to Colette that they might not be “on best form” everything clicked into play about ten minutes after we arrived at Heaton Park – the play-date destination.
The kids ran around, stamping in ice and mud. Both girls made new BFF’s. They drank hot chocolate. Colette and I got to have a good chat. We took tonnes of photos (actually, I took about one, but Colette took lots – these are all Colette’s pics, she’s very good at photos as you can see). We vlogged. We generally had a very good time.
Watch the video here (and watch Colette’s here):
Which leads me to the conclusion that a successful play-date is one of those things that’s worth waiting for. All the play-date fails I’ve experienced, where the kids don’t get along, or the babies scream, or the house gets trashed, are all part of the “character building” steps of motherhood. They toughen you up, lower your expectations and keep you going until that one play-date where everything goes right, which you will inevitably enjoy almost as much as a cold glass of wine on a Friday night.
Actually, there’s an idea. Maybe I should make my next play-date a destination involving alcohol…
Finally, we had another mummy blogger play-date earlier in the week which didn’t go according to plan, mainly because both my girls were in a horrendously grumpy mood. We met up with my local blogging friend Karen at Our Tiny Diaries. I didn’t vlog that one (it would have been mainly Effie having a tantrum) but I did manage to take a couple of photos so, you know, it did actually happen.
Play-dates – are you a lover or a hater?