Constant Play Dates? Frequency?

Updated on June 25, 2013
S.H. asks from Kailua, HI
17 answers

Just a question to see what others think/do.
Regarding the frequency of play dates, that your kids have and others.

So, I have plentiful play dates for my kids for as long as I can remember.
My kids are 6 and 10.
My parents had our friends over a lot too, when I was a kid.
But for me, the play dates for my kids are when our schedule permits it or I am game for it etc.
Common sense.
My kids' friends are nice kids.
Then... my daughter has a couple of friends, (who lives like 5 minutes away from us), and one of them ALWAYS wants a play date. Our house or theirs. Fine. She's a nice kid. *She has 2 siblings. Not an only child.
Still, she is always saying she is bored.... "can I come over?" or "Can you come over?" and this is like frequently.
It seems like everyday she is saying this. She or her Mom will call me.
So I don't always answer my phone.
Its sorta irritating.
So sometimes sure, they have a play date. And other times I say no, we are busy. Or its not a good time, or you already had a play date YESTERDAY and we have things to do. Or I simply don't feel like it and its not a good time now. Doesn't matter if it is at their house or ours. I just can't jump in the car, and with my son and drive my daughter there, whenever that girl is bored. It can be inconvenient. And I told the Mom this. She understands. Still, the kid always wants a play date. Because, she is bored.
So the thing I am getting at is: do you all, just simply let your kids have a play date ALL the time, whenever... and never tell your kids "no"? Or you have a limit or quota, about it?

When summer began, my kids had TONS of play dates. School had just gotten out. It was almost everyday. For both my daughter who is 10, and my son who is 6. Fine.
They had fun. It is summer. Fine.
But, at a certain point, as I explained to my daughter, there are other things to do, spending time with the family, just not having to "rely" on play dates to entertain yourself, and, it is also nice to just be bored sometimes and be your own person and relish the opportunity to just not always being on the go. Constantly. etc. and we have things to do, too. And my kids are not lumps on a log. Anyway.

Also, I find, that kids... if ALWAYS on the go and always having play dates, they get too used to that. And then when they are just home with no company, and things are normal....they also feel "bored." But it is because, they were always just so over stimulated and on adrenalin by all those play dates. So then when things are of normal momentum and no kids are around, they don't know what to do with themselves.
Like a sugar high after it goes away.

This one Mom of my daughter's friend, never seems to tell her daughter no. She always has to have a kid over or her kid going to some other person's house, to play. My daughter even said, her Mom never tells her no. The daughter just makes her own plans for play dates, then tells the Mom. And then the Mom just goes along with it.
So just wondering, what you all do?
Do you gauge the frequency of play dates or not?
Its like sleep.... sleep begets sleep.
Play dates begets more play dates. And it can be a vicious cycle.
At one point when summer began, my kids had lots of play dates. And I observed, that they were just getting.... too used to it and yet, burnt out.
Anyway, I am sorta keeping it at a more sane frequency now.
What do you all do?

2) And then....(being my daughter is 10).... what do you all do with your Middle Schoolers and their frequency of "social life" and being out? Since I have heard, that from Middle school, kids just go out a ton.
So do you just let them or not?

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So What Happened?

*The word "play date" is, not a big deal. I don't mean it in a FORMAL heavily planned manner. Of course my kids go outside and play. What kid doesn't. I am talking about, kids getting together with their friends. To, play/hangout. Sure my daughter is 10. She and her friends, hang out at each others house.A lot. But this is not, in the same neighborhood. We are not neighbors. They all live in different neighborhoods. And thus, any time they get together, it does, need to be "planned." The kid cannot drive themselves. Sure my daughter can plan things herself and is old enough. But holy crap, a kid, does not have carte blanche about their life. She is not a "Mom." I am. If my kids had their way, they would be having socials/play dates, Everyday, all day, day and night, and they would be doing anything anytime all day and all night.
All I'm saying is, with your kids' social life and socializing... do you have limits or not? On the frequency? No matter what age.

@ Jill T. - Thanks for your response to my question about play date frequency.
You "got" what I was trying to say. And per kids and their reactions to play dates. Yes, some kids need "alone time" too. And as a Mom, I gauge that in my kids. I know them. Their cues. Any kid would want to have constant play dates. But, there is a limit to so speak... and per our kids. My daughter, even if she does not say so or think it, I can TELL when the frequency of it is just too much. She gets burnt out and fried, from the constant socializing or going out, etc. Its like being on a sugar rush, constantly. Per play dates. So that is why, I will tell them "no" to play dates at times. And besides, even as a kid gets older, we can't just let them go out constantly or everyday or night. I mean, that is never positive either. Always "having to" socialize and go out.
I see some kids, that get "hooked" on that. That rhythm of always having to go, out. But that doesn't mean that is what they need.
Balance. Knowing our kids' cues etc.
My kids do play tons, play dates or not.
They are not lumps on a log.
They are very active even if by themselves and social and independent.
I did not say the parent always revolves around the kids and have to play with them. I don't do that.
I am not saying I have to be there and orchestrate play for them. I also am one of the few Moms that do have play dates and kids over at our house, more than the other Moms of my kids' friends. And it is either planned or spontaneous.
They have always played or had other kids over since they were even 1-2 years old.
To clarify, my question is more about, how OFTEN do your kids go out/on play dates, whether it is at your home or someplace else? I mean, for me at least, there is a rational limit to frequency of it.

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answers from New York on

When my kids were that age they were out playing everyday with kids. If I had things to do they either went with me or sometimes they stayed out with their friends. We did not do "play dates." There was always one mother around who kept an eye on things. I live in a development. Some of my friends kids did. OT, so they would call to see if they could come and play with everyone. It was all so very casual and worked well. It is summer, let them have fun with their friends. My kids have great memories of their summers.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

We dont do playdates very often as we have a lot of kids that live nearby and they all just go out and in as they please. There are some friends that live too far and we do have to schedule transportation for them to play and pick up time and those are less frequent because of that issue. I am ready for my son to be older so he can just ride his bike to the friends that are in riding distance which gives him more available friends instead of just neighbors. I was lucky enough to live next door to my best friend and we were together every day. I wish my kids had that but they dont. So now we deal with the neighbor kids which is better than nothing, and the occasional "play date"

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

When I was a kid we didn't have "play dates" we played. in the yard, in friends yards, baseball in the street, soccer in the school yard. my mom yelled when she wanted us home. or other moms yelled when they wanted there kids home. why do your kids have to have scheduled play dates? why can't they just go play? why do you have to be present for each play time? if the mom wants your kids to come play say adious have fun. if it works for you to have kids over great if not also great but not sure why it is a problem for them to play. it is the precurser to a real social life. Believe me when I say you want this. you want them to have friends and you want the friends at your house as much as possible. start it young and don't make it a big hairy deal. when your kids are teenagers your going to want them to be bringing friends home. play dates are just that play dates. they are not opportunities that you have to make big science projects or art works. tell them to play. legos, house, dolls etc. it should not be a big stress for your kids to have friends over.

just an aside. I have never understood parents who's whole life revolves around playing with their kids. kids should play with kids. I understand playing with your kids we all do it but a whole day or week at a time I just don't get. :(

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

When I was growing up I had a best friend that lived 2 houses away. If she was not at my house I was at her house.. EVERYDAY for 6 years.. That is what best friends do.. Especially when they are neighbors. (They then moved away).

When our daughter was a child, we also had a ton of children on our block and they played with each other EVERYDAY.. it was a combination of children or single a single child.. every day for about 4 years. and then some of the families moved close by, but not on our block.. By this time. our daughter was in school and so play dates, were about once a week. Sometimes, more, sometimes less.

I am not sure what is wrong if both children want to play together for them to get together as much as they like (as long as they get along).. And as long as it does not interfere with homework and any other family activities.

But if you feel like it is too much.. come up with what works for you or your family.. and set up a rule. One playdate at our house a week and 1 house at someone else's house a week.. (You decide)

I liked it when our daughter had a friend over or was with a friend. She was enjoying herself and being active.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

At 6 and 10...does it have to be a "play date"? Sounds like they are friends. Can't you just invite one over (or send her over there) without having to socialize with the other mom?

We live in a cul de sac with tons of other little kids and I've known the other mothers for years. We've reached the point with our 5 yr olds that we'll just send them over for an hour or two for the kids to play. We're comfortable minding the others' kids and vice versa.

That gets you out of needing to be social when you don't feel like it, and it gets the kids out of your hair. Just a thought.

For my kids, they're playing with other kids every single day. Whether with myself and the neighbors, or with the nanny. Usually both.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I get what you're saying and it's not always easy for kids to just "play" with friends without parents facilitating some. Kids can't drive... I'm like you that my kids have always had a lot of playdates at our house. And some moms reciprocate. Our neighborhood also allows for spontaneous playdates which is great but not all that reliable either. So I try for a healthy balance too. My oldest would have a playdate every second of every day if I let her or helped her have one. My youngest is more clear about wanting time alone. (7 and almost 9). But I agree that kids shouldn't have playdates every minute so I don't let my 9 year old have them all the time. Sometimes I still don't think she plays alone enough given her sister is right there but she at least does play alone some and can be very good and creative about entertaining herself. Is this girl an only child? If so, she may play alone but there are a lot of hours to fill so needs a playdate too. There's a girl like that in our neighborhood. If it's summer and no camp, it's about 12 hours of being on her own so wanting a friend for 2-3 hours doens't seem like overkill. So I get it when her mom wants playdates with my kids a lot. In general, I try to have on average half a day reserved for them to just read, practice some music, play on their own etc. Some days it's less given so many kids coming by sometimes but yes - I do try to balance as I want them (really my oldest) to be ok on her own/alone. I wasn't with friends 24/7 as a kid and I think it's incredibly valuable to be able to happy alone. My friend complains his wife can't be alone for a minute while my husband doesn't have that complaint I'm sure.

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answers from Norfolk on

Limit it to no more than once a week and then only if it's convenient for you.
The friend being bored is not your problem.
Start telling her (and her Mom) she needs to get a library card and start reading some books.
Her Mom is too concerned with keeping her entertained - and this is something the girl can only do for herself.
When my son use to say he's bored, I gave him a chore.
Weeding the garden, washing the car (inside and out), clean his bathroom, do his laundry, pick up his room, etc.
He doesn't say he's bored anymore EVER.
And his favorite thing to do it pick up a book and read it - he's a major recreational reader.
Actually he's got some plans to make another soda bottle rocket this summer and he's has no trouble occupying himself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I do not really limit how much time my kids spend with their friends, nor do I see a need to. As long as my kids are taking care of their responsibilities, such as homework and chores, if they don't have extra-curricular activities or specific family plans then why not go to a friends house or have friends over. If we have plans to go somewhere as a family we will often allow our kids to each invite a friend to come along, the more the merrier. We usually even have an extra kid or two with us every Sunday morning at church. My kids are turning 8 and 11, so we don't really do "playdates" anymore. To me a playdate is more structured and supervised than the type of play they do at this age. Kids just come to our door, or my kids go to the doors of their friends. If their friends live far enough away they will call and make arrangements before getting parents to drive them anywhere. During the school year the kids are quite busy with extra curriculars, and in the summer we go on a lot of family trips and the kids will be away at camp, so they do try to squeeze time to hang out with their friends whenever they can. This also includes LOTS of sleepovers!

As for how often, in the summer if we are home they would see friends every day. During the school year they probably only get together with friends 2-3 times a week outside of school. Each of my boys has at least six close friends that they see outside of school on a regular basis, and they often get together in groups of three or more now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well, I have days when we have things to get done (like errands) and days when we reach out/accept playdate invites. And days when we are having our own adventures. I try to find balance. Too many playdates and Kiddo ends up feeling too stretched. He's at an age (6) where he and his playmates are having a bit of a hard time 'giving' (by this, I mean doing what the other person wants to do). This is frustrating for him, and so I sometimes see that he needs to have a break so that he *wants* to play with other kids again instead of having a playdate and then griping about it for the rest of the day. Boring, that.

This week he has morning soccer camp and I am thankful we only have one playdate scheduled. This first day, he is exhausted and has been a pretty tender little fellow. The work of playing with another kid, negotiating who leads/directs the action, etc.-- today would have been too, too much! I try to be sensitive about making sure he has some down time and that summer isn't just constant running around.

I believe that life must have balance to be healthy. So, playdates sometimes, when it works for the family and Kiddo. As to how often, I'd say we average about 3 playdates a week.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I guess I just don't think about it like that. I have four kids, and they do keep each other entertained if there are no friends around, they rarely tell me they are bored, because I have a tendency to give them a job to do if they say that :)

We live in an urban area, many of my kids' friends are within walking distance and they play together (esp during the summer) any time they want, as long as it doesn't interfere with something like chores or that we are going somewhere. Then they have their friends from school, who come from all over the county. Those visits we have to plan, and we tend to take turns for things like sleepovers.

That said, I will just say "no" to any visits from their friends, or any requirement that I provide transportation, if I am having a bad day (my brain needs a rest sometimes).

The situation you describe with your daughter's friend was the very thing I cringed thinking about when we were planning how many children to have. Like I said above, the dynamic in our family is different from those with fewer children. Not better, just better for me. You have two choices: accept it for what it is and just say yes or no depending on what you are doing. Stop over-thinking it and letting it bother you. OR lay down some very specific ground rules about when the two girls will get together, even planning these visits weeks in advance, so the girls have something to look forward to. And I mean EACH visit, a few each week but scheduled, not ONE visit a few weeks away. (I hate using caps for emphasis, please don't read it as me raising my voice.) If you can work your schedule around that it might work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

When my kids were younger I was more like you . . . I'd just follow my instincts if I were you.

My kids are teens now and still about the same level of "social" as they were when they were little.

I don't think constant play dates are necessary or required for a fulfilled childhood. As with most things in life - moderation is in order. We also value family time.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

maybe what you could do is set up a ritual for this girl that she can come monday and weds afternoons for 3 hrs but that's it and to not even ask inbetween.

I'm feeling very blessed that my kids have so many friends, I only reach out to parents whose kids i feel comfortable with and honestly that might be 1 playdate a week.
if other kids call I'm a little more hesitant but generaly i do let the kids go play, that is less frequent, Right now we are in a rash of birthday parties, and sleep overs etc,

I am not one that can usually get my own work done while kids are at my house, they want snacks, they want to do a messy craft that requires a bit of help, they want the slip and slide set up but need me to move the dog or something ridiculous, It's never go build quitely with legos of an hour or go dress up your dolls and ahve a pretend tea party, it's always something they need me for. and the same with drop offs, I'm always thinkign about them and it's hard for me to get my own stuff done.

i'm rambling, not sure if that's what you were looking for or not. but i would go nuts if neighbor kids were in my face all tlhe time. I'd be putting up a fence and disconnecting the doorbell real quick.

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answers from Chicago on

Play dates for a 10 year old? I think that's a bit much. Like another mom said, they're friends - can't they just hang out when they want?

I think you need to step back and let your daughter handle it unless you feel like she doesn't like this girl. Can't they ride their bikes over to the other's house or is it really too far.

Or you can tell your daughter to tell her friend that she can hang out with her say, 2 times a week. It's up to your daughter and her friend to coordinate days and places. That might make for less phone calls. Your daughter has an out (I told you we can get together only Tuesday and Saturday).

My kids have several friends in the neighborhood and they are all in and out of each other's houses and yards without asking for permission. This is how it was when I grew up. If my mom said, "No friends in the house today." There were no friends in the house that day. I do that too. I called my friends all the time - we would all talk on the phone - not the parents.

A 10 year old should have a little independence and should be able to determine when they want to hang out with a friend.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I took my oldest child on one play date years ago. That was the last one we ever did. It was so awkward. Kids don't need to schedule play.

Play dates for my kids are "Hey....go outside and play."

So yeah, I let them play. But I don't schedule it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I set limits.
I have things to do, errands to run etc.
I do schedule playdates frequently when convenient but I do not overdo it.
Just set boundaries w/your kids as to the frequency.
When I was a kid we had to self-entertain & play w/our sibling.
Sure we got bored sometimes & if bugged my mom enough, she'd say
"oh I can sure find something for you to do. How about vacuuming?".
Yikes, we'd quickly shut up & fiind something to do.

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answers from Huntington on

Susan, I understand. It sounds like perhaps these other children are only children and/or their parents want them out if their hair.

We do playdates maybe 2 times a week. We have a girl's night once a week where I get together with my girl friends and we bring our kids and they play together. On top of that, my brother and I trade babysitting maybe 1-2 times a month and the kids will play with their cousins then. We also have neighbors that the kids will play with outside 1-2 times a week. The rest of the time is filled up. Weekends are "family time" and we very rarely arrange for friends to play then as we are busy with family things. I also have 3 kids and they play very well together so it is often easier on me to not have friends over.
My mom was reminding me of when we were kids, there was a neighbor that was a hard child. His grandparents that he lived with were ALWAYS wanting to arrange playdates every day and could not understand why that would not work for our family. When it was just me and my brothers playing, we could get along and come up with very entertaining games. When this kid came over, it was hard because he behaved poorly, and even when he didn't behave poorly, it split us kids up- we started to take sides and not get along. He did not want to play with the younger children. It was easier to not have this friend over very much. Sometimes it is easier to not have friends over.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My girls are 13 and 11. They are both too old to call getting together with their friends "play dates" My 11 year old started getting embarrassed by that term a few years ago. I think it was when the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies or books referenced the word "play date"

For a balance of social time vs other ways to spend their time, I tend to follow my kids' leads, within reason of course.

My oldest is a true extrovert. She has always spent most summer days growing up with neighbor friends, and maybe a few friends she has kept in touch with from school. This year its 100% a small group of school friends that keep in touch, text constantly, and hang out. I'm out of the loop on planning, except to be asked permission and kept informed of their whereabouts. Like most parents, I have a strict "no friends in the house when I'm not home" rule, so they need to find ways to get together at a park or coffee shop or whatever when parents are at work. It was great that she planned and rode her bike to the pool with some friends today. Last Friday evening she had some friends over to the house, some boys, DH and I made sure we stayed here the whole time to supervise. If she asked to do the same Sat night, we would have said no because WE wanted to go out for dinner and a movie. But it turns out she went over to a girlfriend's house the next evening anyway. I let her go out with friends any time it's possible, unless we have a prior commitment. Honestly, she's had really tough 7th and 8th grade years, and I'm just happy to support whatever brings her comfort and joy, which is at age 13, is her friends. And they are good kids. She and her friends don't have much if any money, so it's mostly just spending time together.

My youngest is an introvert, and she has a small handful of friends. She's just fine hanging out at home with her sister or her family. But she is always willing when a friend calls and invites her to do something. She gets invited out and over a lot. She's so busy accepting invites, she doesn't have much time to do the inviting herself. And honestly, she is kind of lazy about making that effort. I encourage her to be a good friend and reciprocate sleepovers, etc, but I don't force it, or push any kind of formal take turns system like we had done when the girls were in preschool. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but at this age, it's really her own relationships to build or to neglect, not mine to micromanage. There is one friend of hers that calls ALL THE TIME and wants to spend 24/7 with her. I had to tell her to please just leave one message when I saw her number on caller ID 37 times! She's a nice girl, and has a very nice family, but this friend definitely is the one seeking my DD out all the time. I find myself wishing she would mix it up a bit with a few other friends, but that is her world to figure out. But since she calls my DD continually, we often have to say no to them making plans because we have family obligations, it's too late in the evening or she is out with another friend. Sometimes she' ask again a few hours later, so yeah, I think she has a hard time taking no for answer, but I should try to be more understanding because he probably doesn't see other options, and it is nice she likes my DD so much.

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