Ah play dates! Those oh, so important times for mommas and babies. Part excuse for mom to get out of the house and part excuse to expose our little ones to new faces and new friends, play dates are a rite of passage in motherhood.
You probably remember me talking about craving friendships a few months back. Or perhaps you remember the Instagram post where I literally read a book about making mom friends. Ever since having Brody, building friendships with others in the same stage of life has been on my mind.
Before I even gave birth, I joined a meetup.com group for moms with little ones in our area. I had made it to occasional events and play dates and we always had a great time. After months of joining in on other moms' events, I wanted to repay the favor and host a play date at our house. Every excuse went through my mind--our house is too small, we don't have a ton of toys, what if no one shows up, I'll be awkward as usual etc etc.
Long story, short, I finally put those fears aside and emailed the group organizer to add the play date to the calendar---granted, 2 months in advance. Once it was on the calendar, I was committed and had not choice but to put the fears aside.
Last Thursday was the big day, and it was worth every minute of planning, cleaning, and panic. Another reminder of the importance of friendships in motherhood.
Here are a few things I learned from hosting our first play date.
Pick A Theme
Tea Time. This simple theme worked perfectly for a play date. After our trip to London and experiencing our first Afternoon Tea, I thought it would be so fun to recreate this special time of day back at home. And let's be real, themes also make for really cute pictures.
It's Just As Much About the moms as it is about the babies
Here's the truth--play dates at this stage are more like mom dates with baby wrangling woven in. Our tea time theme gave us all an excuse to get dressed up. We got to throw on a dress, put on a bit of lipstick, and even dust off those heels from our glory days. If mom is having fun, baby is having fun.
Keep it simple
Peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches, pre-made chicken salad from the grocery store deli, and a box of bagged tea--nothing fancy, but tasty and easy. Finger sandwiches are great because you can eat them in two bites and, that's about as many bites as we can usually take before having to set it down and chase our little one across the room. Since the babies in our group range from newbies to over a year old, having foods that work for both moms and babies is best. One momma came with a tray full of roasted veggies--which Brody and I both enjoyed snacking on!
Screw the baseboards
Maybe it's just me, but anytime someone is coming over I panic. And when ten people are coming over, I double panic. The blinds that haven't been dusted since Brody was born, the mix-matched pillows that we've been meaning to replace, and those pesky baseboards that could really use a dusting--the little things stress me out. But I'm starting to learn that most people are not going to ever notice if your baseboards have a little extra dust, or if your pillows need to be recovered. Good conversation, snacks, and a little fun cover up all the pesky things we stress about. I'm vowing to never let a messy house hold me back from socializing again.
Don't worry about the toys
Toys are great, but I learned that little ones are just as into a fuzzy pillow, the legs of a chair, or empty water bottles, as they are toys. I worried that there wouldn't be enough toys to keep each of the babies entertained, but I learned that they are pretty good at entertaining themselves. The Oball Activity Center I borrowed from my mom's house? At one point, six of the babies were all playing with it at the same time. I even had my husband go buy 500 ball pit balls the morning of the play date as I worried there wouldn't be enough toys for entertainment. And what were the babies more into? Pushing the Tupperware container we had them in around the room. You don't need a room full of toys to have a fun afternoon.
The Rule of Thirds
One thing I've learned from going to play dates and now hosting one, you can usually count on at least 1/3rd of the RSVP's not coming. Babies get sick, naps run into the start time, people forget---as moms, there are a million excuses. Keep this in mind when you are figuring out who to invite. If you have room in your home for 10, invite 15.
A few days later and I am still thinking about how much fun it was to laugh with other moms and hang out with their babies. I'm already planning on having a round #2...now time to think of a fun new theme!
Have you hosted a play group? Have you ever used meetup.com to find new friends? What are your tips for making mom friends?