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Thread: Are there/should there be rules and ettiquite for scheduling and canceling informal playdates? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-12-2012 05:46 AM
LitMom

I just realized the OP asked about canceling because a younger sibling is cranky. Perhaps its the age of my kids, but if the kid who is cranky isn't the one "going for the playdate," I'd just call and ask if it was okay to drop off the playdate child for a bit sans cranky sibling.

08-11-2012 11:13 PM
Honey693
Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

Not to hijack, but I'm curious... Those of you who have/would cancel at the last minute due to a child's "bad day" -- do you say that's the reason for canceling or do you make something up?

 

I'm asking b/c I am the only one of my friends who has openly said, "Sorry, we're just not able to cooperate today, we'll have to try again another time." One of my close friends has a very spirited child but she doesn't cancel, she just struggles. Then sometimes cuts things short and is hugely embarrassed that her kid couldn't make it through the playdate nicely like all the other kids. She has accepted (on some levels, anyway) that this is just her child's way but she also relates stories of outings to me where the "end" is catastrophic (complete with screaming bloody murder, violence towards other kids/mom, some other embarrassing occurrence) so that she is completely mortified and certain that she'll never be invited to a playdate again. And it seems these things happen nearly every time they go out. So of course that'd be a lot of last minute cancellations, but she never would say that's the reason, b/c she's already embarrassed about it.

 

So it's like she's trying to pretend like her kid doesn't have bad days like that. And now this thread is making me realize that most other moms I know don't really admit to that, either. I know their kids, and the kids on the whole are amazing little things but really, they ARE human. They must be terrors SOMETIME, right? Am I throwing my son under the bus by calling it like it is?

I do.  Bad days are bad days and happen to everyone so I'm going to make my kid feel like they're worth lying about.  I would much rather have someone cancel on us last minute b/c it's a bad day and it's just not going to work, than to try and have a play date where at least one kid is in a bad mood or tantruming.  It's hard enough to have 2+ kids play nicely together for any length of time when they're all having good days, much less when they're not.  I have bad days and I hate going out, but I'm an adult and can work through that.  I don't expect a kid to be able to do the same.

08-11-2012 11:09 PM
Honey693

I've had to cancel on really short notice before.  If my kids flip out as we're putting shoes or buckling up and on there's a screaming, , throwing things, hitting people tantrum there is no way I'm subjecting anyone else to that or take my kid out of the house for a few hours.  It used to take my oldest at least 30 minutes to work through a tantrum, and that was if it was mild.  Thankfully when it happened it was usually a one on one play date with a friend who has a kid who's the same way.

08-11-2012 10:21 PM
dogretro

Hmm. As the parent of an easy-to-flip-out kid, I say it would depend. Helpful, right? If my child had problems every single time, I would plan v short playdates. Like, one or two hours, max. I would let the other mom(s) know that ahead of time and tell them that dd could not handle anything longer. Nothing I could really do to change dd's temperament or attitude, kwim? So, two hours at the play place, and we go home. That was lots of fun, see you next time! Then, even if things were trying, everyone knows we're only at your house for an hour & I wouldn't have to beat myself up trying to corral an aggrivating kiddo. A lot of short playdates, sure, but a lot less cancellations. 

 

My kids would have to be acting REALLY bad for us to cancel. Mostly b/c they are happy once we get there and they see friends. Illness is always an acceptable excuse. You don't always know they are sick until they wake up & in our house we wake up between 8 & 9, so that would be a kind of last minute cancel for a 10am playdate. 

08-11-2012 08:48 PM
mamazee I would say that's the reason, though now I'm worried that maybe other moms judged me and thought it wasn't a good enough reason. But I was just being honest, and I didn't want to set her up for failure. There wasn't any point in taking her on a playdate just for her to be moody and difficult and not really play right up until she blew up and flipped out. I don't see how that would have helped the other mom or kid.
08-11-2012 07:53 PM
swd12422

Not to hijack, but I'm curious... Those of you who have/would cancel at the last minute due to a child's "bad day" -- do you say that's the reason for canceling or do you make something up?

 

I'm asking b/c I am the only one of my friends who has openly said, "Sorry, we're just not able to cooperate today, we'll have to try again another time." One of my close friends has a very spirited child but she doesn't cancel, she just struggles. Then sometimes cuts things short and is hugely embarrassed that her kid couldn't make it through the playdate nicely like all the other kids. She has accepted (on some levels, anyway) that this is just her child's way but she also relates stories of outings to me where the "end" is catastrophic (complete with screaming bloody murder, violence towards other kids/mom, some other embarrassing occurrence) so that she is completely mortified and certain that she'll never be invited to a playdate again. And it seems these things happen nearly every time they go out. So of course that'd be a lot of last minute cancellations, but she never would say that's the reason, b/c she's already embarrassed about it.

 

So it's like she's trying to pretend like her kid doesn't have bad days like that. And now this thread is making me realize that most other moms I know don't really admit to that, either. I know their kids, and the kids on the whole are amazing little things but really, they ARE human. They must be terrors SOMETIME, right? Am I throwing my son under the bus by calling it like it is?

08-11-2012 07:40 PM
mamazee I have so many thoughts about this.

First, there was a time when someone asked me if I was planning to go to a play area the next day, and I said truthfully, "So far that's my plan, but it depends on a few other things." She interpreted that as us setting up a playdate, when I interepreted it as her wondering if I would be there the next day and me saying I wasn't sure. I wasn't there the next day and I was publicly scolded over that. So I'm a bit sensitive, though this happened a long time ago. But the point is, make sure you are both on the same page and are communicating the same thing.

Second, when I do actually schedule a play date, I do everything I can to be there. One of my kids is pretty much happy all the time and so if i schedule something with her, it's easy to feel pretty certain I'll make it. The other one OTOH was much more high needs and was and still is very moody. If she was having a bad day, the play date would turn horrible and I would absolutely cancel it if things weren't going well. I wouldn't just not show up - I would call as soon as it was obvious what was going on, but I hope that other parents trusted me to be the best person to judge whether she could handle a playdate. (She's older now so this is all in the past.)

So I do think there are valid non-illness reasons to cancel, and I think we should as much as we can give each other the benefit of the doubt that we're doing the best we can. OTOH if you've tried giving the other person the benefit of hte doubt and depsite trying to understand as much as you can it becomes obvious the person is flaking out on you, then just stop making playdates with them.
08-11-2012 07:30 PM
crunchy_mommy This kind of thing drives me nuts. I haven't run into it as often with 1-on-1 playdates (mostly because I rarely invite people over -- I tend to go to others' homes) but definitely with small group playdates. What often would happen is 7 people would agree to go and then 5 of them would back out and I'd be stuck with someone I didn't know well or didn't mesh well with (because I didn't want to cancel too!) Or DS and I would be the ONLY ones to show up and he'd be heartbroken! Finally I gave up and started cancelling too if I wasn't in the mood or all my good friends backed out. Then I stopped making informal playdates like that with anyone but our closest friends. Sometimes people still back out for what I would consider to be less than "good" reasons, but for the most part it's not so intolerable. The only real trouble I run into is when we make tentative plans, sometimes it's hard to gauge just how tentative those plans are, and I'm scrambling in the morning to try to get in touch with the other mom.

Anyway, I don't think it's ever appropriate to cancel on such short notice (unless mom or kids are sick or flat tire or some other emergency). I usually try to give 24 hours' notice if I need to cancel or a head's up well in advance if I think DS might be coming down with something & we might have to cancel. I find it incredibly rude to cancel the same day, even moreso AFTER the time they were supposed to arrive, and certainly not for 'shopping'!! I don't cancel for cranky, DS is always cranky & we'd never go anywhere if I cancelled every time! Plus often a change of scenery snaps him out of his (and my!) misery.

I also want to say that I do tell DS about playdates in advance, even if there's a chance they might get cancelled. He is only 3 and sure, he is really really disappointed, but I think it's important for him to get used to smaller disappointments so the bigger ones won't be such a shock. I also think it helps him learn compassion, thinking of others, etc. if I can tell him Jenny is sick or Tommy's car has a flat. Not sure what he could possibly learn from, "Sorry, they decided they'd rather go shopping," though. greensad.gif
08-10-2012 03:15 PM
LitMom

I try not to cancel once things are scheduled, but I have cancelled for both sick and cranky children. I don't cancel because we just feel like doing something else though. It's rare that I cancel for cranky... maybe once-twice a year I'd say... but it happens. For most of our friends, I'd say that's similar, and my kids understand if a friend who nearly never cancels is sick or is "having a bad bad day and needs to rest." 

 

Things that aren't scheduled, but just "we're usually in x area on x afternoon, so give me a call if you want to meet up at the playground" I don't consider scheduled playdates though. Just tentative plans. 

 

We do know people who cancel or just don't show or are very very late randomly without warning though. I don't tell the kids when we have something set up with them until I know they're actually en route so we won't have to go through the repeated cancellations. I try to look at all plans with them as tentative.

08-10-2012 02:51 PM
contactmaya

Im a woman of my word, with my kids, with other parents. If there is a reason i cant make it to the playdate, i would let the person know. No excuse for being inconsiderate to other people. Just because i birthed a baby doesnt mean i get to treat others with disrespect.

08-06-2012 08:01 PM
dogretro

For us, when a playdate is scheduled, it's set. A group date, that's different, could come or go, but one-on-one is a date. I am often a bit late, but people know this and lots of others do it, too, so it's no biggie. I would not cancel last minute unless I couldn't start the car. If I were running terribly late, like 30 mins, I would call to let them know, but I would still go. I cannot tell DD1 that a friend might be coming until right before they come b/c she does not handle things being canceled very well. I know the other things in my schedule such as trips or birthday parties. I make sure I'm prepared for them b/c the playdate is also important. Even the loosest parents I know are still reliable about showing up. I do have one friend (not a mom friend, a neighbor) who is quite unreliable and I learned to stop making plans w/ her a long time ago. I still like her, but it pisses me off & does prevent us from becoming closer b/c I think it is super rude.

07-28-2012 07:04 PM
chenchen Everything I wrote above notwithstanding, if I cancel very shortly before we're due to arrive, then it can be assumed that I am at a feverpitch for one reason or another. This means my change of plans would have been unexpected even to me!
07-28-2012 06:59 PM
chenchen
Quote:
Some of this probably depends on the personalities involved.

I agree with this. Some people do as you do: rearrange their schedules to make time for the playdate, clean the house, prepare food, etc. Other people are more fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants types.

I fall more into the second category. I am not going out of my way to make my house immaculate for a playdate. It is generally clean, but it will look lived in. I am probably serving light snacks, but short of making sure my fridge is not running on empty, I'm not doing any major prepwork here. I'll put out some fruit, which may or may not get cut while I sit at the kitchen island with the other mom talking over a cup of tea. There's always cheese in the larder, pretzels in the pantry, carrots and hummus in the fridge. But none of that requires any work on my part. My schedule is flexible and not planned out, so if someone were to cancel on me, I haven't really lost much. Yes my child may be disappointed, but we have playdates all.the.time, so a little disappointment now and then won't kill her, and we can then generally fill that unexpected time with something fun and unexpected, so general, no harm, no foul.

As to when I would cancel: certainly in the event of sickness, even when the other party would brush it off as just the sniffles; if my child were in particularly bad humor; if I had an upcoming event that I was ill-prepared for (going out of town, haven't packed; no gift for bday party that afternoon, etc). If it was a playdate that a great many people were attending, and I felt that our presence would not be greatly missed, I might cancel for lesser reasons (need to grocery shop, etc).

That said, I have learned over the years that there are people who fall into the first category, who are planners and schedulers and who do better with plans not subject to change. I have even lost a friendship over it. I have learned that this can be a sticking point, and so when making plans and indeed when making new friends, I am open about who I am, generally saying something like, "I'm generally always late. I'm terrible about returning phone calls. I'm scatter-brained and spontaneous. If you can handle all of that and take none of it personally, let's set it up."

Are those behaviors rude? Some people would say so. Personally, I feel that it goes to intent, if something is done with malicious intent, then yes it's rude. Speaking of myself, I don't feel rude. I have character flaws, these are some of them. Some people can handle them, other people can't. They can certainly be confounding. The thing is, I am more than that too, of course. I am a very good listener; a problem solver; a person who will always step up when a friend needs me; a very loving and engaged mother who attends to the children of friends with all the love and dignity I give my own child; and a person generally well connected in the community (not in a name-dropping way) so that I can generally always connect people with someone else who can fill a need for them.

The bottom line is that we have to learn who we are as parents and as people and find people who are compatible.
07-27-2012 08:29 AM
mammal_mama
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemygirl View Post

 

I'm very rarely surprised but I have to say I'm OMG shocked at the above. Does anyone other than narcissists and lunatics really go through this line of thinking when dealing with people? 

I never saw any of this as a popularity thing. Are the majority of the mothers really doing that sort of thing? I mean these are adults with jobs and kids and responsibilities and yet they are still worrying about who is likable and if other people are willing to hang out with so and so? I don't know .. I guess I'm being naive or maybe have too much faith in people but I just can't see a bunch of grown women playing little girl games like this. 

My statement was in response to the poster who said that her husband would rather have people think he really wanted to come but something just prevented him from coming at the last minute, than just make his excuses as soon as he knew he wouldn't be going.

 

I don't know if the people who do this really think all that much about it -- at least consciously. I honestly suspect that they don't really put themselves in the other person's shoes to the extent where they can realize, "Hey, if I'm not going, the sooner they know it the better because they'd probably like to invite someone else." But I do think anyone who honestly believes that the other person would be better off believing they were coming until something came up at the last minute, must be carrying some unconscious assumption that everyone else perceives the other person/family in the same way that they do -- meaning, no one else would want to get together with them anyway.

07-27-2012 07:59 AM
swd12422

To answer the original question, "my" rules are the same as for my own social engagements. One time can forgiven as an anomaly; after that it becomes a pattern I don't care to repeat. I don't appreciate having my time wasted, and even though there are other things I can go and do, it's still a waste of time to set a date and prepare for something that doesn't happen. I don't continue to make playdates with people who have set that pattern -- we either do it in a group or we don't do it at all. Maybe that will have to change when DS gets older and he chooses his friends more without me knowing the parents, but for now I am fortunate that most of his friends have moms that are my friends, and those moms are all on the same page as I am. There is one exception, a very close family friend, who is not altogether reliable. But b/c I know this, I can work around their unpredictability b/c most of the time they are exactly 40 minutes late but they always show.

07-26-2012 05:31 PM
Skippy918 I hate when play dates get cancelled. Last weekend, we got the excuse that the other family's errands took longer than expected. When we had talked in the morning, we had scheduled a play date for 1 pm. 1pm arrives, I get a call and was told that they needed another 2 hours. So I took DS to the pool, got back about 3, tried to call and got no answer. Hubby was home so he would have told me if they called. Didn't get a call back till after 4 and by then everything was out the window.
DS loves play dates and he's so bummed when they get cancelled. Luckily we had another one lined up for Sunday with another friend and he had a good time.
07-26-2012 06:47 AM
Amys1st

I never told my daughters about scheduled playdates when we did them. For the main reason, kids can wake up with fevers that morning, or things happen when the playdate dosent happen.

I agree, parents who cancel 15 mins before mainly because someone is cranky or she forgot etc is not someone I want to hang out with in the future. In my mom days I remember one particular mom who would wig out on 75% of organized activities or be late 100% of the time for whatever reason. We always included her in all the emails inviting for the playdate, park day whatever but didnt hold off on anything knowing she would arrive 1/2 way thru because of a nap/phone call/fever/whatever you can fill in this area would keep her. She was also not someone I would do one on one things with because of this unless I would already be there for whatever reason. Such as I went to the mall and was going to walk it in the winter. I need the excercise so I went . If she showed up, great I had company.

 

 

We have known couples like this over the years as well. Schedule a dinner out on Saturday night to get a phone call literally a few minutes before the meeting time to tell us they woke up with the flu- you could call this morning???? Once, heck it happens, twice- sorry no longer want to schedule nights out with you.

07-25-2012 08:44 PM
MamaMunchkin

I think it's rude too.  If someone cancels 15mins before/after a scheduled playdate, they'll never get invited again.  I don't mind the time wasted preparing etc, but my DC would've been very disappointed if that happens.  I find it inconsiderate to both the host parent and child.

07-25-2012 10:47 AM
ilovemygirl
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post

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'm very rarely surprised but I have to say I'm OMG shocked at the above. Does anyone other than narcissists and lunatics really go through this line of thinking when dealing with people? 

I never saw any of this as a popularity thing. Are the majority of the mothers really doing that sort of thing? I mean these are adults with jobs and kids and responsibilities and yet they are still worrying about who is likable and if other people are willing to hang out with so and so? I don't know .. I guess I'm being naive or maybe have too much faith in people but I just can't see a bunch of grown women playing little girl games like this.

 

As far as the rest of it goes... I agree that children should be able to change their minds about an uncomfortable situation or really that anyone should be able to change their minds about anything but I can't help thinking it's rude and inconsiderate to not keep the other people you have made a commitment to in mind as well. And yes, I feel like an adult should be able to handle telling someone no and saying what they mean and should be honest about what they will and will not be able to commit to. I guess my whole point is, if someone doesn't want to spend time with us that's fine but have the decency to tell me that and move along instead of inconveniencing me. 

07-25-2012 07:48 AM
Adaline'sMama I seldomly ever schedule playdates in advance of more than a day or so. If someone wants me to come over "next monday at 4" I tell them, "We would love to, let me text you closer to that day just to confirm that DD isnt sick/ in a funk/ ect.". I try to look at playdates more as time hanging out with the mom, so I wouldnt cancel for no reason any more than I'd cancel on a new friend for a beer somewhere. Sometimes we have to cancel, mostly if DD is sicky or if she has just been throwing an absolute fit for days. I always send a text or call at the beginning of the day when i know that we arent going to make it.

I've had a couple of people no show on me for playdates, but they never solidly confirmed that they were coming. IMO, if someone says they are coming its super rude to cancel last minute without a good reason. And just not showing up? I'd not invite them again. I cant schedule my life around people who dont even bother to let me know they arent coming.
07-25-2012 06:07 AM
chel
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.
07-25-2012 05:49 AM
mammal_mama
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.

07-24-2012 06:35 PM
leighi123

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).  

07-24-2012 02:21 PM
mammal_mama

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. :)

07-24-2012 01:25 PM
JudiAU

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.

07-24-2012 01:00 PM
mkksmom 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.
07-24-2012 12:54 PM
ilovemygirl

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?

07-24-2012 12:52 PM
mkksmom 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.
07-24-2012 12:36 PM
One_Girl 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.
07-24-2012 12:26 PM
mammal_mama
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?

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