29 answers

Playdates, How to Get Other Parents to Reciprocate.

I am proactive to say the least in organizing play dates at our house for friends of my children ages 6 and 4. I would like to know of an appropriate way to get other parents to reciprocate. I am flattered and happy for my children that their friends love coming to our home....but, I would love for them to get to their friends houses for a play date or two sometimes! I am not above just saying as their child is resisting the time to go home to say"hey, it is ok maybe next time you can show (my kids) all of your fun toys" What do you suggest ladies?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks girls for all of your responses, some sassy, some sensible, all very well received. In the future I will still host playdates and I like the idea of meeting the other moms and kids at the park, zoo, or mommy/me sports which we always did.I actually failed to mention the reason for my question/dilemma. I had major Surgery two weeks ago, in the hospital one week and been home since on bedrest with daily nurse visits. I do not want my children to not have playdates and so I have organized them and My husband has been overseeing them and most of the parents know this. Thanks again for your insight, you mommies rock!

Featured Answers

Hello! I find it best to call a parent and ask to schedule two playdates. I ask them a good day for their child to play at my house and also schedule a playdate for the kids to play at their house. If you call and say "let's schedule two playdates so each child has a chance to host", most parents will agree to this idea.

2 moms found this helpful

Do the other Mothers stay while you have play dates? If not maybe you are just a free babysitter. Maybe next time you could suggest a picnic in the park where the Mother will have to stay. How well do you know the other mothers? When my child was that age my husband was a plant manager and worked night shift so we could not have company when he was at home and sleeping. I would invite everyone to meet at the park and I would provide snacks and lunch for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

I think you have some fantastic advise in previous responses. The only other thing I can think of is to have a sign up sheet. Make a list of upcoming play dates and have it out on the counter and ask people if they're interested in taking a date and then allow them to sign up.

1 mom found this helpful

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I am on the other side of this issue. My child is the one that always goes to another child's house and can I just say thank you to the moms who do this. Part of the reason why kids never came to my house was because I made the kids play outside. We did not have television, video games, and other electronic toys to play with. We also have a big dog though gentle she can be very scary to the little ones. Lastly, we now live with my mother who is completely intolerant of us being here, let alone some one else's kids. So...sometimes the reasons we don't reciprocate are the kids don't want to be at our house, or we can't. With that said, I do appreciate the families that do open their houses to my son.
S.

4 moms found this helpful

We are the house on the block that all the kids come to - I love it. We are the only ones that have sleepovers with 3-5 boys - when the parents drop them off, they always say, "You're brave". It doesn't bother me b/c I'm aware most parents just don't like having a bunch of kids in the house. Heck, there are some parents that don't like their own kids being at home. Some parents just aren't comfortable with kids being over or their home may not be kid friendly, as far as things to do. I'm not one of those women that just loves kids either but I really like 'my' boys and they have made good choices with the friends they have picked. You may have to accept that reciprocation may not happen and move on. I would suggest to sit back and enjoy that your kids and their friends like being at your house.

3 moms found this helpful

I'm the same way... and some friends of ours are like that too.

For me, I don't expect it. It doesn't bother me. I know it is not personal.
And one Mom/my friend even told me sorry for not inviting us over too, but their house is very small and they simply don't have room for inviting kids.... and I know its true. They don't even have enough bedrooms in their home, and they sleep in the living room etc. She is embarrassed by their living quarters... and that's okay.

When my daughter asks "why" we don't go to their house too... I just tell her its okay... they are our friends and some Moms are not able to have things at their house for personal reasons. Its fine and we can invite them over instead. And we do.
I am always the one who has lots of play-dates for my kids... and its okay. And my kids grow up knowing that their Mommy does this... and they can invite their friends any time. My kids friends, LOVE coming over... and I don't mind being the Mommy that is the play-date place.
That is the way I grew up and what my parents did for me too as a child.
Its okay. My daughter even tells me "thank you Mommy for having my friends over"... and to me, that is the BIGGER lesson for a child.

All the best,
Susan

3 moms found this helpful

I would suggest that you stop having playdates at your house if it is causing you to feel resentful toward the parents of the children you invite. You should be doing it for YOUR kids to enjoy having their friends over. You can't pressure people into having playdates at their house, its RUDE. You have no idea what their situation is. There are dozens of very PERSONAL reasons they may not invite your kids over for a playdate. They could range from small home, abusive home, dirty home, hoarders, they live with grandparents who dont tolerate visitors, they have 10people in a 2 bedroom house, they have no toys, who knows but it is not your place to put them in the embarrassing position to explain something that could be painful or shameful. Try looking at it from a perspective other than your own for a moment. When you do good things with good intentions it always comes back to you. Not always when and how you think it should.

2 moms found this helpful

Hello! I find it best to call a parent and ask to schedule two playdates. I ask them a good day for their child to play at my house and also schedule a playdate for the kids to play at their house. If you call and say "let's schedule two playdates so each child has a chance to host", most parents will agree to this idea.

2 moms found this helpful

I am also on the other side of the playdate equation. We have a tiny house (700 sq feet). When I start having a playdate friendship we always invite our friends over - but usually they prefer meeting at their (bigger) homes, where there is just more room (and stuff) to play.
Because of our limited space, and because I feel it's unnecessary, my daughter also doesn't have a boatload of toys. There is enough for her to play with and she gets an additional choice of toys since she attends daycare, but having more than one child over is pushing it at our place.

I would also not underestimate possible economic differences in their hesitancy to invite you. We live comfortably, but having seen the houses of some of our playmates, I do sometimes feel a little intimidated inviting them over, knowing I don't have that kind of nice place or toys to offer.

2 moms found this helpful

I am in the same boat. I have 1 child and have a nice yard with a pool & trampoline. Children enjoy coming over and my son loves it. However. These same children will invite other children over to play but not mine. so the to small of a house, not enough things to play with at their house is baloney in my case. I do not find it rude to expect reciprocation at some point. I find it RUDE not to. They could invite my child to go to the park or playground if they do not want to host at their house. What do they do all day with their kids if they are not at my house? I like the the straight forward approach of scheduling 2 play dates. Thank you!

1 mom found this helpful

I think saying "maybe next time you can show..." like you said is appropriate. I will say that some people seem to do better at having kids at their house than others. I always feel like I don't reciprocate playdates as much as I'd like to, but I have a 2 year old and then a 10 and 8 year old, so the big kids always want friends over and it just isn't always easy. I would also say that my 10 year old gets invited over to a friends house, let's call her Sally, and when I say she can have a friend to our house, Sally is not in her top 3-4 of people she wants to invite over. I mention Sally sometimes, but I don't want to force her to invite Sally when she'd really rather play with someone else. So just know that some people don't do playdates as well.

1 mom found this helpful

I think you have some fantastic advise in previous responses. The only other thing I can think of is to have a sign up sheet. Make a list of upcoming play dates and have it out on the counter and ask people if they're interested in taking a date and then allow them to sign up.

1 mom found this helpful

If you want to do more activities at other's homes then I suggest you join a playgroup on meetup.com. For me, this has been a LIFESAVER! You can still schedule playdates at your house and, if you find the right group, you should have ample opportunity to go to one's at other homes and meet lots of great moms this way! Unfortunately there are moms like you and I who love to plan but it's pretty rare (from my experience) to find. Most people don't like to host for whatever reason and most don't even like to just plan. That's why I suggest the playgrouo would be great for you! Good luck with whatever you decide, but yes I agree that you can't change the moms you've been hanging out with to be more like you - it jjust won't happen no matter how much you hint or even flat out ask.

1 mom found this helpful

I simply ask the other mom, usually when I've got somewhere I need to go and so have to arrange a play date or a sitter. Since the ratio of play dates at our house vs theirs is higher, they always comply unless they've got specific plans too. Sometimes the direct approach works better than hints.

Good luck!

M.

1 mom found this helpful

I think that your suggested line is a good one, especially if you are friendly with the parents. I might also say to the child, as they are getting ready to go home with mom or dad "Thanks for coming over to play! It's always so much fun to play someplace new! Maybe next time (your child) can come play at your house" so that the parent's overhear. The kid might get the idea and push their mom or dad to help make the invite. But in short, I agree - I don't understand why so many parents don't reciprocate! I feel that my daughter with a friend over is so much "easier" than just my daughter home alone! And the kids have so much fun. Anyway, not a lot of great advice, but maybe it helps to know that you're not alone in this situation.

1 mom found this helpful

If they are close family friends, you can drop a hint of some sort, but not everyone likes to have "strangers" in their home. Honestly, I would take the hint, but not everyone is like me. Do the parents stay there with their kids? Or just drop off? That makes a difference.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,
Remember that we have different qualities, some Moms just don't remember reciprocating or they just do not feel that their home is safe enough for other people kids; you might well say, they should make it safe, but it is not as easy as that. I am talking about it because something happened recently to my daughter and I am glad that it did not turn to a tragedy.
I love having friends' kids over being a SAHM and I used to ask the same question, why do they not reciprocate? I didn't want my children to burst into someone's house without prior notification, even though on my side, it happens all the time. My kids were tired asking me why they could go to their friends's house, anyway my answer was mostly "no" or wait that you get invited, "but Mom how come that our friends come and you don't let us...." But one afternoon, their friends came over to invite them; what happened next in unbelievable. As the cross the street to play with their friends, one of my daughter was chased by their friend's dog, to escape the chase, she plunged into an unprotected swimming pool, 8ft deep; they friend's parents came to rescue her, she was soaked in water, in tears, trembling, crying, afraid; and just imagine how terrified I was when I got the news, she is a little girl who is just learning to swim.
I am sharing this with you so that we parents can learn that having our kids' friends over is not just for fun, it is a responsibility and until we are ready to make that commitment and sacrifice, maybe it is better not to invite those precious little kids over. I am a parent and everytime I have my kids friends over, I want to make sure that they go to their parents with no harm, it is just not everyone's job. Sometimes we are too busy, sometimes, we are dealing with our own stress.
Dear S., maybe it is better just to know that you have an eye on them. Now I blame myself for not listen to my heart. I am saying that different household have different policies as far as caring for kids, I also have friends that are perfect in that issue and I do not worry when my kids go to there homes. Be cautious and understand why your friends are not reciprocating. Maybe there is something that is preventing them from inviting your kids to their homes.
Cheers,

1 mom found this helpful

For me my solution to this problem was to move the play date. Like you, I organize things. I just started being honest. "Hey I don't think I am up for a play date here, let's meet at the park. We can picnic there, I think the kids will love it.". As long as the weather cooperates, it's usually a good solution. I get the break from playing hostess and cleaning up afterward. And non of my friends fell pressured to host (I have a friend that still lives in an apartment with her boys, not exactly an ideal play date locale). Besides that my kids like the variety and "new" things to play with at the park. Sometimes the friends also bring balls, sidewalk chalk, bubbles or sand toys too, which adds to the "newness". When we do this we usually try out different parks, there are so many nice ones for the kids to see in our area.

1 mom found this helpful

I would just say, the next time all the moms are together, "Hey would anyone else like to have the next playdate at their house?" If no one responds, don't get offended but dont' offer to have it at your house either.

1 mom found this helpful

Personally I don't think you can make other people reciprocate. I think if you invite someone over you really have to do it because you want to, not because you are expecting them to return the favor.

That said, of course I think it's polite for them to reciprocate. And I don't buy some of the comments from other people who say they can't reciprocate because of their home size, dogs, etc. I think then they should be making an effort to take the kids out - either to McDonalds, to play in the backyard, to the movies, etc.

I too have been in a situation where it's been hard for us to reciprocate immediately...we have had a sick baby. I have let the other parents know that we WILL have their child over, however due to the newborns' needs, we weren't even having FAMILY over right now, nor going out ourselves. The parents were very kind and said it wasn't a problem. So I have been keeping a list of who we "owe" a playdate to. Since then I have systematically been going through our list and inviting children over in the order we received invites...sometimes it has been for a playdate, other times it has been to go out. If for some reason that's not an option, I think there are other ways they can "make it up" to people, like driving both ways to Boy Scouts or a soccer game.

So in answer to your question, I don't know of a nice way to go about it. I think the best you can do is if/when you see the other parent say something like, "We really need to get the kids together." I have also contacted friends' parents directly simply saying that my child would like to have a playdate. I have found that usually the other parent is willing to pick up if I drop off, or is open to having the kids at their house without much prompting.

I like the idea of inviting the kids back whose parents DO reciprocate. I think it sends good message.

I have always been one to invite kids over. So now that we needed a little help this year, I don't feel bad being on the receiving end. I know that we'll make it up to our friends and also that we'll be there for friends when they need us too.

1 mom found this helpful

ohh i know the feeling. all the kids in neighborhood and class love to come to our house but getting someone to invite back is like impossible. i don't get it. i had a neighbor who last year was so into playdates, but only if they were invited. and invite i did, daily, weekly you name it. i finally stopped. i just couldn't get over the fact that she wouldn't invite us. or anyone for that matter. so i stopped cold turkey. months passed and no playdates with that person, unless we were in the yard and they'd join us. this year she has invited us twice. i am yet to invite her back. i won't do it unless he makes it a habit to rotate playdates. so if you follow my example it may work. i was always saddened to hear my kids but why can't we go over to their house?
that was what brought me to stop it entirely.
good luck

1 mom found this helpful

I know you've already received a ton of responses, but I wanted to add one more reason that some people (including myself) rarely host playdates at home: a work-at-home spouse I've been in a MOMS Club now for almost 5 years, and during that time I've hosted my share of playdates and parties, but in the past year or so my husband's work has become so demanding that it's too distracting for us to have kids over during the work day. As a matter of fact, I try to schedule lots of things (park days, Kindermusik, rec center classes, etc.) just to get us out of the house and out of his hair until nap time! I do try to explain this to close friends who repeatedly offer to have us in their home, but I'm sure there are some people in my club who wonder why I never offer to host.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

I understand this completely. We have been in the same boat and my kids are 5 and 6. I don't mind hosting a lot of playdates at my house, but for my kids sake I think it is nice when they get the opportunity to play at other kids houses. I know my kids love having playdates so I keep inviting, but tend to invite the kids whose parents reciprocate more than those who don't. Hinting is a great idea. How about telling the parent: "Give us a call if you'd like to get together again, maybe we could meet at a park or your house next time." Bold I know, but sometimes people need a bit of a push!!

Good Luck,

N.
I al

1 mom found this helpful

Do the other Mothers stay while you have play dates? If not maybe you are just a free babysitter. Maybe next time you could suggest a picnic in the park where the Mother will have to stay. How well do you know the other mothers? When my child was that age my husband was a plant manager and worked night shift so we could not have company when he was at home and sleeping. I would invite everyone to meet at the park and I would provide snacks and lunch for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

I can see how you would feel, but it is not ok to pressure someone into having children over if they don't want to. Personally, I don't have playdates at my home because I just don't want the mess. However, I do schedule lots of activites for my children and their friends outside our home like the park and the children's museum, etc. We go to very few playdates at others homes. I'm guessing because most of our friends feel the same way I do about going out and having fun and coming home to a clean house. I think you should just continue to have the playdates, if you can get past the resntment or start meeting at the park(or another location), if it makes you feel it is fair to everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

i don't think that's over the line. make it casual and just like you said, talk to the kids and even if mom/dad isn't in the room, it could be that the kid brings it up to their parents and you won't have to do/say anything else.

1 mom found this helpful

Hey -
I think you ask a great question. I am a single working mother. I like to have 1 or 2 of my son's friends over every once in a while. But honestly, I can't imagine having a group of kids over because honestly, I don't LIKE most of the other kids. Is that horrible? It seems as if MOST of the kids these days do not have any manners. I don't really want to listen to them being mean, using words I don't like to hear. For that reason, I won't let my son go to some of their houses. Do you guys see this problem?

-L.

This is fantastic! This is my first time on the site... I am feeling similar to the lady who posted the original question. I have 3 kids - 8,6 & 4 yrs. I am always hosting playdates and that is fine. I like it that way. However, I have a friend who has 2 children the same ages as my younger two. I always have them over and she never reciprocates. She is always having friends over her house for her kids to play with but just not mine. In fact, I had her children all day yesterday and they sleptover and then she came to pick them up and while she was here, she was on the phone telling her girlfriend she will pick up her boys & take them all to the movies later! I was standing there saying to myself, hey, why doesnt she ever offer that to me? It actually hurt my feelings...b/c it continually happens. I am feeling like she is taking advantage of me b/c I am a stay home mom...she works but from home.

Any ideas, thoughts or suggestions...I would really like her to reciprocate.

Thanks!

I'm kind of on the "other side" like a few of these women but for a different reason. I just don't have the "host" gene. I would love to host playdates from time to time, I just don't think about it. So, while I might get offended if someone was pushy about the time/day of the play date, if someone asked me to have one and we scheduled it right away, I am always more than happy to do so. If it's just a "let's do this sometime" then "sometime" never seems to come!! Can't really tell you why. . .

I'm on the other side as well. We have four children and my hubby is a stay-at-home dad. We know a mom who initiates most of the play dates and she has made comments in front of my son about being the one to always make the call. I work in Finance and so I have heavy hours at certain times of the month and when I am home, I don't think about inviting over more kiddos. And my husband has MS so the last thing I want him to do is take on my kids! I am so glad that you asked the question because that shows that you want to approach other parents with sensitivity knowing that some of of us are not able to host, even when we want to. Good luck!!

As a parent of a now 15 yr old and one who has routinely had play dates...I never looked at reciprocation. My opinion is that is all works out in the long run...just like car pools, etc.

I happen to have a large house, kids and now teens love to be here because they have the space available to have social time and not intrude on other family member's times (ex: siblings)

My daughter loves having guests and it appears that the guests love coming over since my house is full every Fri and Sat night. YES, parents say "you are brave", and yes, I spend more $$ for snacks, etc BUT....I know what kids are doing here and I know it is safe as do other parents.

That said....once in a while...it is nice to have daughter invited elsewhere but in the long run, I am glad kids like to be at my house.

In reading some of these answers, it made me feel somewhat better about people who don't reciprocate play dates. My problem is that I have an only child so we are always asking others to join us for weekends at our cabin, I always initiate play dates and what I think is that alot of these parents have several children so their kids play together or they simply do not have the space or think about having a friend for their kids. Regardless of the reasons, I read here not to take it personal, but I do. Some of these kids we have over and over, take them away for weekends and NEVER do I get a phone call that asks if our daughter (age 9) can come over. The parents are extremely gracious though, and do thank us. I just think that most people lack common sense skills about reciprocation!!

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