Playdate Time Question

Updated on March 25, 2010
K.B. asks from Puyallup, WA
16 answers

Ok Moms, here is my dilemma-
We invited a friend over for a playdate on a no school morning. When the mom asked what time I said drop him off around 9-9:30 am. They finally got here at 10 and I had to let her know that something had come up late the night before I would need to leave at 1:00 with my own kids. She was like, "oh so you want me to pick him up after 12:00? I told him he was going to get to stay longer and play the afternoon. Can you tell him he will have to leave early? I have to go and get all my errands done so I can be back to get him." My questions are 1- how long should a playdate be? 2- Was it okay for her to assume that he was going to get to stay here all day?
A little more info..... We did have a playdate with them a couple of weeks ago where my boys went to her house. They went after school and I offered to pick up approx 2 hours later. When I went to meet them, they were over an hour late getting home (already agreed upon a play date outing) and I had to have her bring them to school for me since I had an afterschool meeting. I felt bad that they were there that long. This offering was to make up for the grumpy mom she ran into when she dropped them off with me and I was rushing to get to where I needed to be.
Thanks for all your help

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all your great responses. Yes, I did need to communicate better and will in the future. I thought that when I had talked to her and invited him over for the morning that she understood what I meant. Obviously not but it is now over and done with. :)
The mom apologized when she picked him up about being late and offered to have my boys over the next day. We agreed on a time for them to come home but she called and said they were having such a good time, could they stay a little longer. It all worked out fine
Thanks again

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

It is not tit for tat.
You do not have to make-up to her... for the previous grump she was and circumstances.
A simple apology to her, should suffice.
She is snippy, to expect you to then, extend yourself beyond your means and have her kid with you and tell her kid that he can stay longer... for the afternoon.

The Host of the play-date... sets the rules for the time spent there. Not the guests. Nor does the host "have to " accommodate the extenuating circumstances of the kid's parent. Much less, at the last minute.

It was the MOM, who has to "explain" to HER kid that he had to leave early. NOT you. For her to put the "blame" on you and to explain to HER kid.... was passive aggressive and rude.
Plus, SHE turned up at your house, late. Her fault. Not yours.

A play-date, is for as long as YOU want, or are able to.
It was wrong for her to assume that her kid was going to stay there all day. Geez. That is really rude.
When you have a play-date... ALWAYS ALWAYS state the end-time. Always. And for me personally, I always tell the parent 1/2 hour prior to when I actually want the play-date to end.... because, delays always occurs. But that is just my strategy.

AND, ALWAYS get their cell-phone number so that you can call them, if need be... even if to remind the Mom that pick-up time is soon. That is what I do.

My play-dates...average about 3 hours. Sometimes even 4 hours. And I a solidly explain the end-time, clearly.

All the best,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I think it would depend on who the play date is with. If it were my goddaughter, I would just assume she's there all day and not really request a timeline (unless I think she's staying the night) or the same with children of friends of mine.

But if it were a neutral playdate (as in someone the hubby or I don't really know), up front I would ensure we both agree on the drop off / pick up times. I would also be specific if I expected something (will they provide food?) and ask if what I had planned for snacks/meals is okay if I didn't know the child.

Sounds like you two just didn't communicate well enough. I would have just sucked it up but next time, plan ahead and make sure that you and the mom are on the same page. No harm, no foul!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Sometimes things come up (as in your case) but for the most part, playdates are 2-3 hours unless otherwise discussed. I think drop off and pick up times should be set. If something comes up, then I think you work around it. And, honestly, she should be the one to tell her kid when she will be back. It was not right for her to assume you would be hosting all day long.
If she was hosting and was running late getting the kids home, that was her issue, especially since you were there to pick your kids up at the scheduled time. If I had been the one hosting and I was late returning, I would feel obligated to get the kids home or to an alternate drop off point if I missed the time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You didn't say how old the kids involved are, but my experience is that most playdates are give or take 2 hours. That's with toddlers though and moms stay to chat with each other too.

It sounds more like you were trading babysitting, so in that case, I think a general 1:1 is good. If she watched your child for 3 hours, then it's appropriate for you to watch hers for about 3 hours too. If her's was 8 hours, then 2 times for 4 hours each seems like it would be okay. I certainly wouldn't watch minutes for the sake of the friendship, but if it's trading babysitting 1:1(ish) seems fair.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We learn from our mistakes :) So next time you tell give her the specific time, say from 9am to 11am, or 9am to 12pm, whatever your time is. She should not expect you to be her babysitter service when the child comes over to play. But I've learned that you have to be clear. I have kids coming over to play with my kids and I don't mind them staying over longer because I usually don't plan anything ahead, but that doesn't mean that things don't come up or that the other parent should assume that it's okay to drop off her child and come back when it's convenient for her.
If you can put up with her lateness all the time for the sake of the kids, then so be it, that will be the price to pay for your blessings to play with other kids.
If not then and you still like the kids to get together and play, but you know that you can only keep the kids until noon, you give her an hour earlier for pick up and tell her it will be until 11am so you don't get stuck with all of them.
Best wishes.



answers from Houston on

Sounds like this is a fairly new acquaintence so I think 2 -3 hours is appropriate. My kids have friends that come over but live right across the street and I am close with their mom. In that case when they come over they pretty much stay as long as everyone is getting along but certainly if one of us has something to do we send the kids home when it's appropriate with no problem. She was being pretty presumptuous to think that you would watch her child all day long.



answers from Portland on

Well I'm a benefit of the doubt type of person. It sounds like both of you were making some assumptions and that would have gone smoother if either or both of you had asked some clarifying questions. So next time you offer up a play date at your house, take it upon yourself to explain your schedule for the day and when you'll need him to be picked up (or offer to drop him home at a particular time). That way it'll be totally clear (and then maybe she'll be on time).
And here are my feelings about length of play dates: Two-year-olds should be together maybe 2 hours (and really, the other mom should be there otherwise it's more like a babysitting trade than a play date), 3 and 4 year olds are starting to be able to really play with other kids, so play dates could probably last 2-3 hours. Kids that are school-aged (dependent on personalities) can play, problem-free for 3-4 hours and it gives them enough time to really get into their imaginary games



answers from Portland on

Assumptions usually don't work well in any direction. She shouldn't have assumed you'd keep her child all day, and you shouldn't assume she knows what you have in mind.

Communication is wonderful stuff. Be clear about your needs, limits, and expectations, and ask for the same information from her.



answers from Portland on

When inviting kids over for a playdate, I say, " Can Johny come over from 9-12 and enjoy lunch with us?" or whatever. I make sure and specify if we will be eating and what times they are invited for. Just the same, if my guy is invited I ask for times and if it is around meal time I ask if I can bring a snack or food or if I should plan to feed him before or after the visit, etc. Most of our playdates are with both moms and kids together though, my son is only 3 though.



answers from Pittsburgh on

It's really up to the mom at the house where the kids will be. My son is older now (7), but it was frustrating when he was younger--people coming later than agreed, staying longer, etc. Still at 7, I try to give an end time. Especially for impromptu things--like "I know dinnertime is soon, can Joe come over for an hour and half & I'll have him home by 5?" I agree with the PP. ALWAYS give an idea of an endtime--you can always call & extend it if it's convenient for you--I think when kids are pre-school age 2-3 hours is about when they start getting bored.



answers from Seattle on

To me, playdates should last 2-3 hours unless otherwise planned like for an outing or something.



answers from Anchorage on

She should not have assumed you planned on keeping her kids all afternoon unless it was arranged that way before hand. When I drop my children off for a play date I ask at that time what time they would like me to return for pick up. If they say they do not care, I return in 2 - 3 hours to at least help supervise even if the children are not ready for the play date to end. 9-12 was a very reasonable play date, the fact that she was late was her fault, and she should not have acted like your pick up time somehow got in the way of her plans, she should not have made plans until she knew the pick up time.


answers from Portland on

My answer to your question about how long should a play date be? In most cases I'd say 2 to 3 hours max.

Answer to question 2: I don't believe you should assume it's ok to leave your child all day at another persons house. Some people need it spelled out for them though. I have had the same experience with a few families in the past. I would say, we would love to have "Sammy" play at our house today starting at 9:30, but he must be picked up by 12 because I've made other plans for the afternoon. Just because your a mom doesn't mean you time isn't valuable and this person isn't respecting your time.
Some parents feel a play date is for them to run errands or have their child babysat for free, but its about the kids having some time together. If that parent needs more time she needs to hire a babysitter or ask you to watch her child.
Oh I wanted to say that it was very manipulative of that mother to try and guilt trip you by telling you that you needed to disappoint her child by telling that the play date wouldn't be as long, give me a break!


answers from Los Angeles on

1.5 to 2 hours is standard playdate time from what I've been told and what I've read. And no, it was not ok for her to assume that he was going to stay at your house all day. How ridiculous!! :)



answers from Washington DC on

If I was having a kid over for a playdate (and the mom was not staying) I would want it to last 2-3 hrs. In reverse if my kids were going for a playdate I would make sure to ask what time to drop off and pick up , she was wrong to assume that he could stay most of the day , but length of playdates are down to the individuals. Some people are happy to have kids over to play all day , you just need to arrange this with the parent beforehand.



answers from Denver on

I agree roughly 2 hours for a playdate at your house. If it's a trip to the museum or pool or something, maybe longer. I have an issue with a parent that likes to just send their kid over for hours n hours too, so I have to be very clear about when she will be home.

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