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Are there/should there be rules and ettiquite for scheduling and canceling informal playdates?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

First, I'm not talking about REAL emergencies like someone is hurt or sick, etc. 

What I'm wondering about is how everyone handles play dates with people who are not quite great friends but not acquaintances either. The kids we are trying to get together are preschool/kindy age if that matters. 

Several times now I have had someone call fifteen minutes after they are supposed to be here saying they aren't going to make it today because the baby was cranky or they want to go shopping. 

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you do this? 

It very much affects me and my kids when someone says they will do something and then they don't - especially with very little or no notice. My kid is expecting to play with a friend. I have scheduled my chores and errands to accommodate that someone is going to be at my home for a few hours. 

These are not sisters or best friends that are open to just coming by anytime. These are actual scheduled play dates with friends from around town and moms groups. They go like this ... 

Would you like to get the kids together at my place on X day at X time? and the mom replying Yes, we would love to and will be there at x day and x time. 

 

Is it just me or this is really rude? Am I wrong to assume that if you are not at least decently sure you can be somewhere that you should let the other person know? 

 

So, how do you handle play dates .. both scheduling them and when people cancel?

post #2 of 40

I would not cancel because I want to go shopping.

 

If I cancelled because my child was "cranky", it would have been way beyond the average bad mood.  Either I was convinced that she was getting sick, or she was having a terrible horrible no-good day and a playdate would not have been fun for anyone involved.  It's unfortunate, but I don't think it was rude.

post #3 of 40
Thread Starter 

Just to be clear, while younger siblings are invited and/or it's assumed they will be coming along, the play date is for the older kids. Do most moms routinely tell their older kids that the baby being in a bad mood means that they have to miss time with their friends? Seems to me that would cause a lot of unnecessary resentment from the older to younger child. 

 

Also, while I'm in a bad mood because this just happened ... It is not one instance or one particular person. It seems there is a general leisurely kind of attitude of anything goes when it comes to this in my area and I'm trying to figure out if I'm expecting too much or if most people feel it's appropriate behavior.

To me, if someone has been kind enough to invite me to their home and I have accepted the invitation, it is good manners and my responsibility to do what needs to be done to keep to this obligation and if that's not possible to cancel in a reasonable amount of time. Again, I don't believe a few minutes before/after you are scheduled to be somewhere is the time to tell someone you are not going to be there. This isn't a group thing where there absence won't be noticed. They know I am expecting them and isn't it implied I have invested time to prepare for that? Like having food and drinks ready, tidying up and possibly having to move things around in my schedule to accommodate for the time I'll be spending with them.

I feel like this is a double edged sword because if I tell my child that their friend is coming and they don't come she is obviously disappointed and if I don't tell her she'll never know what to expect. It puts me in a pretty lousy position. 

So from that point .. what does everyone tell their children?

post #4 of 40

I got actually got to a point for a while where I did not tell my girls we were supposed to have a playdate because the chances of the other people actually showing up were slim. So no, it isn't just you. I've run into this a lot over the years. I finally came to the conclusion that it is just a different way of life. You might see it as concrete plans barring a child puking the middle of the night of course, another person might look at it as well, if nothing better comes along, then we'll go or if all the stars aline then we'll go. I'm more with you, I make plans and I stick to them unless there is a real, valid reason why i can not attend.  

post #5 of 40
Quote:

Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

 

They know I am expecting them and isn't it implied I have invested time to prepare for that? Like having food and drinks ready, tidying up and possibly having to move things around in my schedule to accommodate for the time I'll be spending with them.

 

Some of this probably depends on the personalities involved. I very rarely cancel once i've made plans, although I am a bit punctuality challenged (getting my kids out the door - even for something they want to do - can be an absolute nightmare). If I cancel, it's almost certainly because someone is sick. But, I don't really do a lot of preparation if people are coming here for playdates, and most of my circle are the same way. I'll make sure I have something to offer for food, but I generally only offer water, coffee or herbal tea (which I always have on hand, anyway) to drink. Most of us aren't "tidy up before a playdate" people - just not our style. I'd be very surprised to know that someone had done that when we were coming over, and I probably wouldn't think to factor it into my decisions.


That said, I can't imagine canceling because I wanted to go shopping! I might cancel if the baby were cranky, but that's only because a seriously cranky baby (I mean, enough so that I'd cancel) is almost always a sign that the baby is getting sick.

 

I really don't like it when people cancel at the last minute, though. It's annoying, and it's really, really hard to deal with ds2 when it happens. Fortunately, it's also very rare, and usually it's the other mom having car trouble or losing her keys or something. I don't usually tell my kids about playdates here, anyway - ds2 gets too wound up when he knows a friend is coming over, and it's easier to just let it be a surprise.

post #6 of 40

I think it is often a case of the other mom not realizing that small children can really look forward to things just as they themselves can. Maybe they never bother to talk to their own children about what the plans are, or maybe they really don't care about disappointing their child or the other mom's child. I've met some moms who will use the playdate as a sort of "carrot" to dangle in front of them as something they can achieve by "good behavior" such as cleaning their room, not throwing tantrums, etcetera -- and then will just snatch it away as a punishment, with no regard for how it hurts their own child or the other child.

 

I have one child who has always really looked forward to getting together with friends and, even from a young age, has always spent the days leading up to a playdate arranging her room and planning all the activities, so I would indeed have been depriving her of a lot of pleasure if I'd kept her in the dark about what was planned. For us, the best approach was to tell her about the plans but prepare her for the possibility that the other family might not come through. My other daughter looks forward to playdates, too, but doesn't seem to plan to the extent that her big sister does.

 

In dealing with a mom like the ones you've described, sometimes it's a case of determining whether my child enjoys being with the other child enough to make it worth dealing with a mom who's very inconsiderate and totally lacking in empathy when it comes to children. That's honestly the only way I can make sense of the behavior of any mom who continually cancels playdates at the last minute; I think she must not understand that kids are people, too.

post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

 I very rarely cancel once i've made plans, although I am a bit punctuality challenged (getting my kids out the door - even for something they want to do - can be an absolute nightmare). If I cancel, it's almost certainly because someone is sick.

This is me, too. Getting out the door on time was especially difficult when my girls were younger.

post #8 of 40
Might be time for kids only playdates.
Could be the real reason was too personal.

I manage a neighborhood playgroup and it's pretty hit or miss. Could be a large group or very tiny.
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by chel View Post

Might be time for kids only playdates.
Could be the real reason was too personal.

I manage a neighborhood playgroup and it's pretty hit or miss. Could be a large group or very tiny.

The OP has made it pretty clear that it's not just one particular parent who does this, or just one isolated incident, and also that it's not a playgroup -- but an actual one-on-one playdate for which canceling means essentially no playdate at all for the other child.

 

I see your point about parents being hit or miss about group playdates where they might feel like their not showing up won't create a major disappointment for anyone, but I do think it's mean not to show up to a one-on-one playdate when you've said you would.

 

About kids only playdates - the OP mentioned that these arrangements are with people who are more than aquantances but not really good friends yet, and she also mentioned that we're talking about preschool aged children. However, I suppose that if the other mom is comfortable about dropping her small child off for a few hours while she goes shopping or goes back home with her cranky baby, this could be a solution in many cases. Shopping is generally easier without a small child along -- but you'd probably want to be prepared that someone who doesn't seem very time-oriented might not be too careful about picking her child back up at the agreed-upon time, either. 

 

Still, if your child has a lot of fun with the other child, having what was supposed to be a three-hour afternoon playdate continue on well into the night might not be such a bad deal.

post #10 of 40
Oh, yes, I agree playgroups are different.
Was thinking more along the lines that maybe the other parents aren't that excited to attend, nothing evil, just maybe don't know the op well or another millions issues us parents might having going to someones house. Going back to my playgroups, that I was thinking but didn't post, the more "popular the mom/kid the more attended the playdate".
I think that if op offered to just host the kids, she might get fewer no-shows. As a more moderate mdc mom, I don't think that is too extreme to host a 4-5yr old without the parent.
post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by chel View Post

Going back to my playgroups, that I was thinking but didn't post, the more "popular the mom/kid the more attended the playdate".

Ouch. Just out of curiousity, why did you decide to post it this time?

post #12 of 40
I ran into a lot of that when my dd was younger but once we started doing kids only playdates that stopped. I thing some of it does have to do with motivation to be around another mom. My desire to socialize was hit and miss when my dd was preschool age for a variety of reasons, especially for certain moms. I suggest starting to invite only the older children. Playdates without parents start around four to five in our area.
post #13 of 40
I think it's very rude. Now, that my dd is older, we plan play dates as the kids get off the bus, and plans aren't set in stone. In that situation, it's not a big deal.

I stopped telling my dd about possible plans if I felt like they might not pan out. It didn't seem ideal, but it was better than having her so heartbroken when things didn't work out. I had the opposite issue too... parents who came over even though their kids were clearly sick because they didn't want their kids to be upset.

I wonder if it would help to kind of test the waters and see how interested they are. Like mention you'd love to get the kids together some time and not mention when. Put the ball in the other mom's court and see if she takes the initiative to bring it up again and try to make definite plans.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 

The kids only play date seems like a can of worms I don't want to open. I would never send my dd without me unless it was the home of a really close friend or family member until she is way older. So, it doesn't seem wise to ask for people to do something I won't do. Does that make sense? 

As far as the popularity goes .. I could give a crap if someone likes me or not. I'm not trying to impress anyone here. But if that's the case and I'm just unlikeable, why say yes to coming over anyway? Why not just make your excuse when I ask?

post #15 of 40
I think maybe some people just can't say no. My dh can be like that with some people. He'd rather have you think that he wanted to and changed his mind than think he didn't want to at all.
post #16 of 40

I would be really annoyed. A playdate means that my house is actually clean and that I had to clean it. Casual cancellations for "shopping" would cause me to never invite someone back. I can *maybe* see cranky depending on the age but it would have to be Exorcist level to cancel.

post #17 of 40

I agree that it gets better as kids get older and parents feel more comfortable with kids only playdates.

 

What is sometimes hard now when dealing with moms of dd1's friends (dd1 is 12), is that she really likes to have definite plans that, for example, one of her friends willl be coming to spend the night on a particular day, and some moms don't feel they can give a definite answer until that day or the day before.

 

This still seems to be an age where the moms talk and firm up the plans, although it's usually been initiated by the kids first. And, of course, I do understand that, especially with bigger families, moms don't always know, right off the top of their heads, what other activities their child or family might already be committed to. And I have one friend who says she needs to check with her husband to see what he's got planned for the weekend, and then I'll touch base a couple of days later because dd is really wanting to find out one way or the other whether she can plan for it -- as I've already mentioned, she's really into planning this stuff and sometimes she'll talk on the phone with her friends working out all the details of what they'll be doing -- and my friend will say, "He was so tired from work, I didn't ask him...I'll have to get back with you later..."

 

And then there is the mom who needs to wait 'til the last minute to make sure her child has ticked off all the boxes on the weekly to-do list. It's rough because I've discovered through experience that it usually works much better for our family, for a variety of reasons, to just have one friend over at a time. So if we're waiting and waiting on an answer from one friend's mom, it may end up being too late to make arrangements with someone else if she says "no."

 

I guess we are still really weird in that my family is hardly ever so busy that I can't remember all our commitments in my head. Oh, and we hardly ever have enough money for me to be thinking that my dh might have a big night out on the town planned for us at the same time that one of dds friends would like to see her. :)

post #18 of 40

in the moms group I'm a part of, playdates are generally "group invites" so everyone in the group is invited.  If 1-2 people don't show up, its no big deal, there are other kids that will be there.  Sometimes they end up being one on one, sometimes a small group, and for more 'organized' playdates, even more kids (usually those are at a park or something, and the kids will divide out to play with whoever they want).  

post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkksmom View Post

I think maybe some people just can't say no. My dh can be like that with some people. He'd rather have you think that he wanted to and changed his mind than think he didn't want to at all.

I suppose that there are a lot of people who feel this way -- and their tendency to say yes and then cancel at the last minute may be rooted in their belief that if they don't really want to hang out with the other family, nobody else really wants to either. So it doesn't occur to them that if they could make their excuse in a timely manner, this would give the other family time to arrange a fun get-together with someone else. They feel like they're doing the other family a kindness by allowing them to cherish the thought that "so-and-so really wanted to come see us but had something come up at the last minute."

 

I did have a situation recently where dd1 had agreed to attend a friend's birthday sleepover, but as the time drew closer, she realized that she didn't feel comfortable sleeping in the same house with this friend's older brother, and I'm sure getting her period also factored into her uncomfortable feelings. We still attended the party and dd just explained to her friend that she was cramping (which was true) and just wanted to sleep at home.

 

I am actually quite sympathetic about kids having second thoughts about a sleepover, and feel this is one area where everyone needs to be prepared that a child might decide that she doesn't want to stay for the duration. But when it's my own child having the second thoughts, we still do what we can to come through for the other child.

post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post

Ouch. Just out of curiousity, why did you decide to post it this time?

Lots going on in my house, sometimes it takes awhile to post and I leave things out.

Not the intention to imply op was not liked or anythine else negative, but that she even said, wasn't great friends with the other parent. As a pp said, sometimes people have a hard time just getting to do stuff with their good friends and to do stuff with the next tier of friends, no matter how wonderful they are, is even more difficult.
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