The Play-date Paradox–Is it Just Me?

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Play-dates are a way to break up the day, keep the kids busy, get a little break, and get some adult interaction, right?? I’d say all of that is true, but I’m finding, for me play-dates come with strings attached.  Let me start from the beginning. . . . . 

Finding a play-date

As a stay at home mom I was thrilled at the idea of playdates. It took me a while to be ready for them because as a new mom of twins it felt like keeping us all alive and fed when they were younger took up all my time. Then, I had to find other stay at home mamas interested in playdates. Check and check. The girls got older, moms were found, and we had our first few playdates. By this time the twins were mobile and I was pregnant again, so I was always tired and often sick. I noticed that too often stories were interrupted because someone was getting into something, stealing a toy, needing help, or I needing to go to the bathroom. Then, as the third babe came along, and we finished out our period of being hermits due to cold and flu season, I slowly got brave enough to go out with all three babies by myself. We started going to parks, splash pads, open gyms, and other friends’ houses (when they were brave enough to take on our chaos).

Was it me?

I learned how to safely load and unload all three, I learned that I dare not bring my Scooter’s drink because I wasn’t going to get to drink it anyway, and I learned that conversations kept getting interrupted, stories never finished, and even though I was with other people (sometimes those I knew and other times just other strangers enjoying their time out of the house), I often felt really alone. As I looked around I saw women on their phones, undoubtedly completing their running of the household tasks; I saw moms who seemed to be able to hold conversations without their kids trying to run away from the park; I saw moms who got to sit down and drink their coffees instead of constantly helping one child climb equipment while using mega-arms to stretch over and jiggle the stroller so the baby would keep napping; they were catching up and telling jokes while I was sweating and moving CONSTANTLY. What was I doing wrong? WAS IT ME??

I reflected

All of a sudden I was questioning everything about my way of Mom-ing–was my process something that could be improved? Was I hovering too much and not letting the kids figure it out on their own? Was I being too paranoid about being close to all of them at once? How come it seemed like I was the only one with this problem? Being somewhat of a researcher in my former life, I needed data.  I wanted to really dig into this problem I was having and find out if it was in fact a problem, was it me? Since I couldn’t drink my coffee or have a conversation, getting detailed data wasn’t going to happen either, but I resolved to continue to look closer and reflect; I wanted to control what I could (which anyone with three littles knows isn’t much most of the time). 

It wasn’t just me

The next few times I went out I started to notice those moms sitting, drinking their coffees, and getting to chat were also interrupted, maybe not as much, but they had interruptions too. IT WASN’T JUST ME. I also noticed many of them had at least one older kiddo who didn’t need help on equipment and/or often helped younger siblings or friends. I started to notice that I could relax a little more in enclosed spaces like the kids’ gyms but the park was just that chaotic with a runner determined to dart in the opposite direction of everyone and anyone.  And, you know what else I noticed?  I wasn’t the only one with a runner- I even had a few moms joke with me that it never ends (funny but not at all helpful)-IT WASN’T JUST ME .  I also started to think about the friends I was with-always so gracious and willing to help, always offering extra hands- and many of those friends also only had one child to keep track of.  Alright, maybe I was trying to compare apples to oranges and that it wasn’t just me. 

Turning point

The biggest turning point in my thinking came when I went to a splash pad with two friends (both had three or more young children) and I started noticing ever story one of us started to tell was interrupted.  Every conversation, interrupted. Every time we’d all get back together it was less than a minute before one of us had to run off to help a child in need (or I had to remind my runner that she was “far enough”).  It really wasn’t just me–it really was just the way things go with multiple young children. And when I voiced that I felt like playdates were fun but were also harder than I expected I got a resounding “Oh my gosh yes!” 

Things I learned

Are there things I could reflect and improve on in my processes? ALWAYS. There are plenty of moms with multiple young kiddos who make it look easy, so I’m sure they’d have tips on what to do differently. But, the bottom line was:

  1. It’s not just me-its happening all around me, we’re all just too in it to notice anything but those moms we envy that get to take a little break.
  2. Sometimes it is just that crazy.
  3. We all mom differently-I need not compare myself because I may be more crazy paranoid about some things, but that’s just my way.

At the end of the day if those kiddos are happy and safe that’s what matters.  There will be park dates and play dates later where I can relax more. . . . .right?

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Megan was born and raised in Omaha; she tried to go "away" for college but it only took her about 2 hours west to Hastings College. After graduating and not wanting to get a "real job" she pursued graduate school at UNL and finished with a Masters in Child Development. She began working as an Early Childhood Program Evaluator and eventually met her CPA husband, Dan. In July their lives changed when they welcomed two beautiful baby girls, Mackenzie & Savannah. After more than 9 years in her professional position Megan left to stay home and currently considers her position as the "Keeper of Chaos" in the household to be the most important job she'll ever get the privilege to have. When she's not chasing after newly crawling twin babies or figuring out how this whole mom thing works, she enjoys the small things: a drink on the porch, walks with her family, roaming Target alone, candy bar lattes, and listening to audiobooks.