Can we have a playdate? Want to play with me, oh and my kid?

Moms that are on mat leave having to make friends, change friends, and find a new identity as a mom!

by Lauren Millman
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Having a kid is a roller coaster of change you literally find yourself on one day. Saturday it’s you and your significant other, and then Sunday, you’re suddenly a group of 3. Now that you have a baby, it’s playtime! And so begins another new stage in your life. Playdates. And not just for baby or toddler. For Mom and Dad too! The big question is, where the heck will you meet these other Moms and Dads, and how.

The answer is… you have to go out.  YEs, that means leave the house. Hassle, I know, I remember thinking oh gosh, now I have to shower, put some make-up on, and actually get dressed. Many a day though, you’d find me at #Starbucks or #TheGap, in my #Lululemons, with my hair in a ponytail, looking exhausted and certainly not ready for the red carpet. But, seek and you shall find. I remember when I had my first. I now have 3, ages 13 1/2, 12, and 10 going on 40, which would put me having her at the tender old age of 9! I was so excited to get out and show off my gorgeous new baby. And so, I did. I had my list already made…you know, the list. The list of all the activities we were going to go to together. I had us signed up for every single baby and toddler class you could imagine, like I didm;t learn my lesson during the baby stage, until I took a good look at my schedule, and realized I had over-done it by about 5 or 6 classes. There weren’t enough hours in the day, and I didn’t have enough energy. Here are a few guidelines to make it a bit easier for you.

Don’t over-schedule. That’s my first rule. It’s exciting, but donut over-do it. You’ll regret it and you may end up loosing money over it. Choose your classes wisely. Start with one or two. You have plenty of time. Leave enough time to get yourself ready, traffic, a meltdown, ( yours and theirs), and a mishap or two. Oh, and traffic. With all these things in mind, one or two classes a week is enough. Classes and baby bonding groups are great because your baby or toddler has the opportunity to not only hear other children, but interact with them. It’s great for you too because you get to see how other moms and babies act and interact, and you can learn from others.

Meet for coffee. Classes are great, but social interaction for Moms and Dads is limited at most of these classes, and afterwards, the great rush is on to get the dirty diapers and hungry tummies home. Yours included. But coffee serves a multitude of purposes: It’s social. It’s a quick outing without being finically committed. You can get out quick. I really enjoyed going out for coffee because I always new people, and there was always a handful of other moms and dads there where I could very easily include myself in their conversation with a smile. We already had the little ones in common, so it was only a matter of time before we would strike up a conversation.

Ask the Ask. You gotta make the ask. This is always the scariest. We’re afraid to ask for a playdate because we we’re fearful the other Mom or Dad doesn’t or won’t like us, or won’t or doesn’t like out child. I promise, you’ll find all this stuff out later, and believe me, the other person is sitting there staring at you with the same fearful eyes, thinking the same things. Ask. If he or she isn’t your cup of tea after the first “date”, you don’t have to spend time one-on-one with them again. But I always encourage my clients to ask, because, you-just-never-know.  And if it doesn’t work out, remember to bow out gracefully and don’t burn any bridges–things may change with that person once hormones and the overall exhaustion and overwhelment of being a new parent settles down.

Egos not allowed. You don’t like that childs’ mother. Or father. “My kid isn’t going to have a playdate with that kid”. Heard this before? Ever said this to someone? This is common. I get it, but I don’t agree with it, unless the parent isn’t the role model you agree with for your child to be around. Here’s the message…So, you don’t like them. You just don’t jibe, for whatever reason. But your kids do, and it seems like they really enjoy playing together. Let them play. Give the parent or parents a chance, because you just don’t know what goes on for people. They may be going through a rough personal or professional time, or they may be having a challenging time adjusting to family life. Yes, we tend to gravitate towards people we are attracted to, for one reason or another. At the end of the day, if you can put your personal feelings aside for the benefit of your child, you will be doing a very good thing for your kid, and you may learn more about the other parent the longer you stick around, and be pleasantly surprised. Or not. I’m saying, give it a chance. If it’s not a good fit, there are many other fish in the sea.

Date night. Play-date for Mom and Dad, or with your significant other. If you can, set aside a night every week or two to re-connect. If you can;t find a sitter, plan a date night at home. Pretend you’re getting to go out, and go outside to the backyard (weather permitting), or to the living room, or even, dare I say it….ok, I won’t, but feel free to go there too. These playdates are just as important because it’s a busy, hectic, emotional time. Even if it’s only for an hour, set some time aside to check-in, get cozy, and connect. It’s not time to bring up the bad stuff or the complaints. It’s time to just be. To be together. Have a coffee or glass of wine, watch a show or movie, look at photographs together, take a walk…as long as it’s together and you’re doing something the both of you enjoy. Without the little one.

Remember, you were you before kids, you’re still you after. Enjoy!

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