Play Date Pick up Battle

Updated on June 26, 2013
L.M. asks from Chicago, IL
21 answers

So my daughter and her friends have so much fun, that when it's time for pick up there is a lot of dawdling going on, whether I'm picking her up or her friends mom is picking up from our house. They will hide, or close the bedroom door, or there are a thousand "just one more minute... just one more thing..." etc.

I always give warning at about 15 minutes that the mother is expected soon, so they can wrap up what they are doing and that play is not abruptly stopped mid-fun.

Another thing that makes it difficult... I get along well with the mother and she is a chatterbox. I enjoy our conversations, but it encourages the girls to dawdle. I have discussed it with the other mother, how I think my daughter is being disrespectful by not listening when I tell her it's time to go -- I only discuss my daughters behavior, but I think the same of both girls, so at least she doesn't think I'm trying to run out on our conversations. I've even told her that I enjoy talking to her, but I feel like this needs to be addressed with my daughter because she is deliberately disobeying me and testing limits.

But, even given all that, every play date end is a battle. I'm going to have to cancel one to prove my point soon, but I hate to do that because the girls are "total BFFs" and get along so great.

How would you handle this without offending the other mom (who I like).

UPDATED: Yes, 7 yo.

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answers from San Francisco on

Basically what Mom B said, I would warn them about what was expected and then follow through. We have had to do this in the past, say "no" to playdates because of how it went the time before. It works. Kids won't change their behavior without consequences. Just be upfront and honest with the mom about it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I remember doing this to my mom and my kids doing it to me. I don't ever remember it being an issue for her or really an issue for me. I chatted while they played and then just said it was time to go.

I think chatting with the mom is what made it easy. It gave the kids a few extra minutes so when I said it was time, they knew it was time and it wasn't like "5 more minutes" just appeared out of no where.

Honestly, I think you're making to much of this.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

I have lots of my kids' friends over at our house, and I am friends with the Moms, and some of them are VERY chatty non-stop, and when it is pick up time sure the kids don't want to end.
But I just say, "TIME TO GO! You all get here now! I know where you are!" And I tell my friend its taking too long or I have things to do.
Its fine.
The other Moms don't get mad. They know... I am not trying to be rude or end their conversations. But it is time, to end.
It is just time to, go.
And then there is no battle.
And if I say I HAVE to go, I just say so.
No harm in saying it.

There is a beginning and an end, to everything.
Or, I will tell the Mom that pick up time is say, 1:00. But in actuality, I have MY personal things to do, from 1:30. That way, there is a leeway. Because I know that by the time the kids FINALLY get going and the Mom and I finish chatting, that it will be, by 1:30.

AND before the Moms come to pick up their kid, I tell my kids and their kids "1/2 hour more till your Moms come... wind it up...." because, then it is not abrupt nor rushed and then the kids KNOW time frame.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I wouldn't say anything at the time, but the next time she asked to have a play date or was invited to one, I would say no because of the disrespect and hard time you get when it's time to go. "Natural consequences." I wouldn't cancel it; I just wouldn't schedule it to begin with. Don't let her have a play date for about a week and then when she does, remind her. If it's still a battle, then 10 days to 2 weeks before the next. Eventually she'll figure out that if she wants one, she has to behave when it's over.

I don't go for that hiding stuff. That just pisses me off! My GD would only do that once. As soon as she saw my reaction to it, she would know not to do it again!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well, kids know that when the moms are talking, it's a green light to keep playing. I remember as a kid, having my backpack all packed up when my mom would come get me from a sleep-over, and then the moms would get to talking... and half the time, we would all go get back in the pool or whatever, because the moms talked for so long! You can hardly blame kids; what would they do otherwise? Stand there bugging you?

I don't think this is about your daughter disrespecting you. I really don't. If you're really wanting to leave, then leave - don't stand there talking! But if you're going to talk, don't expect the kids to stand there doing nothing while you talk. I don't know about you, but when I get to talking with my friends, we could be there for 45 minutes or more! Heck, the other day I went to a playdate pickup and the other mom pulls out a pitcher of Sangria - I mean, no way am I turning down a 3-martini playdate. ;) I'm sure the kids got to play for an extra hour that day!

Bottom line, when you're ready to leave (as in, you are actually going to go get into the car), walk down the front steps and leave. Most kids get the picture pretty quickly at that point!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita on

Hello! You don't say the age of the girls. I tried glancing through some of your questions. Am I right in thinking that they're about 7 yrs old?

If so, 7 yrs old is old enough for them to definitely understand the level to which they are pushing the limits.

I understand discussing your own daughter's behavior, but as a teacher I see the importance of addressing things with both girls at the same time so that they both understand what is at stake. I know that there is a fine line when you do this, so be careful. The next time that they are at your house, AFTER the other mom has left, I would do a quick conversation with both girls. I would be really positive about things, but also firm. Explain that you are SO glad that the two of them are such great friends and get to play together. Explain that when it is time to go, you expect both of them to be ready and waiting at the door when you call for them. Explain that they may need to sit and visit quietly (RIGHT THERE!) while you finish up conversation with the other mom, but they need to be ready to go when it is time to leave. If this does not happen then you will ______(fill in the blank here....have to skip your next play date, cut the amount of time 'over' off of the next visit, etc.).

Praise them when they come right away. Maybe consider sending the other girl out to the vehicle right away (walk her out) and talk to the mom while she is still in her vehicle....that gives YOU the option to leave when you are done, "Well, Pam, it was nice to chat with you! Sally and Kimmy had a great time. We'll catch up again with you soon!"

And of course, if they don't listen, you MUST follow through with what you said you would do. Use that as a reminder at the next play date, 'Remember that last time you missed out on a play date, because you didn't do as I asked last time. Let's have a fun time today, but remember my rules!"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Give that 15 minute warning but add a 10 minute warning, and a five minute warning.

At 15 minutes, the girls must pick up toys. At 10 minutes, the guest has to get on shoes, gather whatever she brought, etc. Have the girls IN the living room near the front door from 10 minutes onward (they might need more time than that, too). Do not let them keep running back to the host girl's bedroom or other rooms -- the play date moves to the front door area no later than 10 minutes until pickup time! If they forget something then you, not they, go and get it.

If your child is the one doing the leaving, be sure you have somewhere else to be: "Dad expects us home in 10 minutes" or "We have to be at X right away." (Be sure it's true -- the kids will very quickly learn if it's a fake-out.) That tactic also should telegraph to the nice but chatty mom that you also do not have time to chat.

If you are the host, and girl and mom are dawdling, turn it around: "Dad will be home in 10 minutes from now and we are leaving as soon as he gets here go to dinner" is always motivating...but if it's not true that night, then announce loudly and firmly, "Girls, Daughter has to start X (homework, helping with dinner, picking up room, whatever) in five minutes and can't start while you're here, Friend. We'll see you next time!"

Always have something your kid must start doing, someone who is about to arrive home shortly, somewhere you must take your child.

I never liked the hide-and-seek "just another minute!" stuff at the end of play dates either, but bringing the play date up into the living room 15 minutes ahead of pickup and even closing doors to the rest of the house to signal that those areas are now done -- that really helped.

When you are the one picking up -- You do need the other mom on your side here -- don't be afraid to tell her that "Daughter is having a hard time leaving play dates politely and promptly so when I come to pick her up, I'll be hustling her out the door -- it's not personal, we're just trying to teach her it's polite to leave nicely." Also try phoning the other mom 20 minutes before playdate's end and asking her specifically to give your child a 15 minute warning! Most parents are happy to do it.

Yes, if your child throws a fit or just is very balky and difficult at the end of a play date, give her one warning, but do take away something she values if she keeps it up. It's basic good manners to learn to leave a play date or let a guest leave nicely. It is learned and you can teach it -- hang in there, mom , and discuss this with the other mom!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

How old are we talking here? Under 5 or over 5?

I think any school age kid should be able to follow clear directions and be ready to leave when you come for pick up. If your daughter is school age, you should tell her your expectations ahead of time. "Mary, I expect you to be ready to go when I pick you up. No hiding, or fooling around. If you don't, then you're going to bed 30 minutes early today." or whatever you think appropriate discipline should be.

When they are at your house, you need to give the directions. "Okay. Judy, your mom will be here in 15 minutes. Time to clean up and get ready to go. Mary, please help your friend." If you have to repeat your warning, you say, "Mary and Judy, it's almost time for Judy to go. It would be a shame if Judy couldn't come back because you aren't listening."

With the under 5 crowd, you need to repeat yourself more and physically help them.

Most important of all, mean what you say and say what you mean. Be clear and concise.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Wherever we are, I give the warning countdown every five minutes. When it's time to leave I tell them we're leaving.

"Okay girls, I'm walking out the door. Grab your things and get in the car."

And then... I actually walk out. I don't stand there waiting for them. Children don't actually want to be left behind. And they don't want to leave their things behind either.

This works especially well in stores and doctor's offices. I do it when they're misbehaving too.

"I'm sorry you're upset, but it's still time to leave. I'm leaving now." And I walk away. I don't give them an audience and I don't cater to the misbehavior. I let them realize that the only audience they have is other people, and that embarrasses them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

What happens with me and many moms is one of us shows up, we tell the girls it's time to go, and then we start chatting. So of course they go play some more. I never feel like my daughter really delays my leaving vs the mom and I are talking/catching up. So I know I'm sending mixed messages. Kind of sounds like you are also? you say 15 min but then the mom isn't ready to leave when she gets there anyway, right? So what are the kids to do? Stand there waiting to go while you and the mom chat for 10 min? Does it matter that the playdate ends right when the mom gets there or you get there? If you have to be somewhere, then I'd tell the mom up front, "in a hurry" and tell your daughter "time to go", give her 1 or 2 min, if she doesn't comply, then tell her no more playdates. That's what I do if it's really one of my kids holding things up. But itr's not something I've really worried about bc typically we're not in a huge hurry. Only thing to do is set a no chatting wiht the other mom rule so your daughter knows when the mom comes or you comes, that's really it. But then you're sacrificing getting to know this mom. Seems like that's the choice and up to you but if a mom did that to me all the time when she didn't have to be some where, I'd assume she didn't like me or think she was being kind of rigid.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

You need to tell your expectation before the play date. If she doesn't listen to comply, once you leave the play date tell her that is a shame she didn't listen because you were going to take her to X but now you can't. She will cry and tell her she hoped she learned a lesson. Do the same thing the next time and reminder her how sad she was when she didn't obey.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've had the same problem, albeit at an earlier age with my son (he knows not to pull that any more)... This is what I did.

First, I communicated to the parent "It seems like the transition at the end of playdates is getting out of hand. When we say it's time to go, I want my child to be ready to go, not running off and hiding. I'd like to try a new routine of having the girls already outside to say goodbye, so when I come, I can scoop daughter up and we can leave right away. I know she loves playing with your girl, however, she's old enough to know that she needs to leave when it's time to go.

Could you help me with this? I'd so appreciate it. I do want to chat with you when it's not a pick-up, just so I won't be distracted. Could we get something on the calendar soon? Coffee or going out for drinks?"

When my son's friends come over, our habit is to have everyone get their shoes on and be waiting outside, playing in the front yard while we wait for mom, usually about 5 minutes before mom comes. We have one neighbor child who did the 'run and hide' thing and both of our families decided that walking the visiting child home to their house was the best choice. So now, if that kid visits, we walk them home or meet the parent at the end of the block.

Now that my son is older, there would be a very real consequence for the run-and-hide behavior. As in, when he next suggested a playdate, I'd put it back to him. "Well, I'm not excited to make a playdate for you. Do you remember the last time we said goodbye at so-and-so's house and the fuss you made? You were disobedient and didn't come with me. I'm not ready to make a playdate for you right now." I think it's important to drop off with that one warning beforehand "If there is a big fuss and you aren't ready to leave when it's time to leave, there will be no playdate next week" or something you know you can follow through on. I think cancelling a playdate (not in the heat of the moment, but calmly, afterward, and letting the other mom know that you feel your daughter's behavior is unacceptable) is a great consequence.

Lastly, don't expect the other mom to get 100% on board if she's just not aware of why this is a problem for you. Some parents are fine with their kids misbehaving, so do make it about your kid. Don't feel bad about being strict and following through by both conveying expectations and employing a consequence which could teach a good lesson. Not all parents are comfortable with this, but I think it's good that you are teaching your daughter that she doesn't get to be disobedient toward you because the other parent doesn't seem to mind.

(Oh, and we started cleanup about 15-20 minutes before pickup time. Depending on the level of mess, I was there to give direction and make sure everyone was helping in a friendly way. Then, we moved right outside.... they just had a few extra minutes to run around.)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Basically, when my kids were little, and we ran into this problem of kids dawdling after a play date, I would remind them that if they wanted to be able to play again soon, they needed to listen to us and be ready to go when WE said it was time to go, otherwise they wouldn't be able to play together for a while......

That usually helped speed up the process.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would talk to the other mom and tell her you are noticing this issue. I would tell her that at your house, you are going to have the girls clean up about 15 min before pick up and then they will sit on the couch and watch tv until they are picked up. This way, everything gets picked up, there is nothing out to play with, and they get a little quiet time. As far as the chatty mom goes, I would just say, "I would love to chat but have to run.": Or you have to make a call or something. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fort Smith on

I haven't read the other responses, so I may be saying about the same thing as others.
Whether or not you ladies sit and talk for a while or it is a quick pick up, you can teach your child (and the other one when she is at your house) to come when they are told and leave when they are told.
My son used to do the same thing, including fussing, whining, and even throwing fits every single time we left any where; grandma's, friends, family, McDonalds, etc. When he was about 4 or 5, I had had enough. Before we went any where, and even just during the day when we had down time, we would have a training session where we would practice leaving with a good attitude. By doing it at home first, the pressure is off. This developed into a habit and after a few times of having him walking right up to me when I called him and saying good bye as we were walking out of the door we rarely have any problems. Now he is 9, my daughter is 6 and if there is any a time that they try to complain, we go through the same training until a new habit has developed.
The girls will take every advantage they can to play, so when they see you guys talking, they will take off. My kids do the same thing at in the same situation. There have been times that I have called them to leave a friends house, another conversation is started so they take off playing again. For us it's not an issue when that happens because if I call for them again, they will come. There have been times that I have called for them up to 5 times before we actually left.
When your daughter's friend is over, the first time you try this, do it at least 5 times during their play time. Tell them what you expect of them, that when you call for them to come, that they come right away. And when you say "O.K., it's time to leave." they say "Yes mom, Good bye friend." and they walk towards the door. The very first time, they may not get it, just keep practicing until they do. And make sure to reward them with big smiles, and maybe even a cookie when they do it right.
If you don't feel comfortable trying to teach the other girl, then just do it at your house with yours before she has her play time. Even teach her to sit with you after you have called for her and not to get back up to play any more and that may encourage the other mom to wrap up the conversation.



answers from Wausau on

When you don't have time to chat, have the daughter ready to go before the mom gets there so that you can step out the door with her rather than having the mom in.

Tell the girls that if they run off to hide, no more playdates together for a long while. Since they are not behaving when together, the consequence is not being together.


answers from Columbia on

"I'm leaving right now. DD, if you're not in the car in 5 minutes, there will be no play date for 2 weeks because you're not doing as I asked you."

Then walk out.

Be prepared to have to follow through on your promise.



answers from Los Angeles on

I agree 100% with what JessicaWessica said. Tell your daughter it's time to go, say good bye and go.

There are a couple of my daughter's friends that take FOREVER to get out the door. So we wait for their mom out on the front porch! I have them water the flowers or help me clean out my car. They're usually happy to go home on time ;) lol


answers from Houston on

I think the whole 'play date' title is so suburban that it lends itself to different rules than when we were young.

When I was young my pals were the neighborhood kids. When I had friends that my mama and their mama's were pals, it was not a play date--but a visit.

Are there no neighborhood kids?



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would tell the kids in front of the other mom that if they don't pick up their own mess then play dates will not happen in the future. I had one friend briefly that would go in a pick up stuff on her hands and knees while her child yelled at her she wanted to leave. I do not enable my grand kids to be rude and obnoxious so this is a no go for me.


answers from Phoenix on

Well I just say out loud "Well the Girls are not going to get there surprise when they get home"They will go running

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