Mammas and Munchkins is a playdate group that meets every Tuesday at 10 a.m. We moms take turns hosting these playdates at our homes. I joined and have been to four and am hosting for the second time soon. The group began by a mom in the military, who learned how to organize these groups in the last town her family was stationed in and started another group here.
I remember being in the throes of the newborn/fourth trimester — and honestly, even past that — thinking, “damn this is a lonely gig.” While talking with others about the dance of making mom friends in the context of me feeling uncomfortable going to or hosting playdates, I was told that I’d warm up to them and then it would become a regular thing and that I just might make friends.
It’s true — now I’m in the playdate circle. I haven’t made really tight friendships, more like acquaintances, but I guess that’s the start to friendships; doing something where you’d run into the same faces repeatedly and get more comfortable. Eventually you will hang out with each other without needing to have something “to do” or having to schedule it — you know, a friend that you can just text and meet up with and it’s less of an orchestrated thing without the framework of the playdates.
I could get a lot better at these playdates. Mostly I’m focused on my child, who clings to me the whole time, making it challenging to focus on conversations with others. I don’t always remember moms’ or their kids’ names. But I will say the energy of being in a house with more than just you and your kid is VERY different. By the time the playdate starts at 10 a.m., we’ve been awake five or six hours. The walls of my house are coming in on me with messes everywhere. I’m losing my patience orchestrating the ever-fleeting nap. My kid is melting down. The hassle of getting dressed and packed and out of the house on time is almost overwhelming, and I’m just overall losing my shit. After all that, we arrive at the playdate, and it all changes: my mental state improves, my kid forgot she was tired and is interested and watches everyone. Getting out and being around others makes a world of difference. It breaks up the day. It is something you can look forward to. One mom says it’s the only time in the week she gets to socialize with adults.
Maybe it’s just me, but hosting a playdate is incentive to make my house presentable. I take all the clutter in my house and throw it in our extra bedroom and close the door, and it looks so clean and clear, ready to be filled with moms and kids and tearing it up with toys everywhere. Oh yeah: having something yummy to eat and drink is a big draw for us moms, too. On the Facebook page you can see the number of “interested” shift to “going” when you announce there will be pumpkin spice lattes and chocolate cake. Themes seem to generate a bigger turnout, like a gingerbread play dough playdate. You know I’ve been on Pinterest getting ideas.
Back to what I touched on with making friends and being too occupied with my child to really hold a conversation — here’s what I feel I can do to make deeper connections in a playdate:
- Go talk with everyone at least once, which also models good socializing behavior for my daughter. Maybe check on the Facebook page to match names with faces ahead of time, and if I’ve seen that mom before, calling her by name is a great start compared to “hey, what’s your name again?” Try to learn about their hopes and goals for the future. That’s so much better than the basic surface stuff about how our kids sleep (or not) at night.
- When hosting, I want to use that as a chance to share something about myself with people through personal stories, and I feel this can help people feel more comfortable in my house by letting them just listen for a bit and be entertained.
So there’s my two cents on playdates: I went from “I don’t wanna, it seems awkward” to almost intermediate playdate mom — haha!