When the twins were younger, playdates were a fantastic idea. It involved grabbing the babies, filling a bag with everything from nappies to Calpol and throwing myself into a coffee shop where I could gossip with friends whilst our children slept, drank or gurgled on a knee.
The only stress came if a child dared to cry and ruin our Lattes, but usually a brisk stroll in a buggy or a large nipple solved all problems.
Because then the buggers grew up, and with each stage of development the experience of the play date has evolved.
The Toddler Playdate.
This stage of playdates involves another mother coming to your house and staying whilst your toddlers either ignore each other profoundly, or scream blue bloody murder if the newcomer dares to even glance at one of their toys.
To add to this hell, you have to clean the toilet and spray pledge into every room to convince the other parent you are fully functioning and share genes with superwoman. Normally cooking is considered polite, as is not removing the visiting toddler from his high chair and dumping him in the garden when he wipes some funky, smelling organic gloop on your favourite sweater during the feeding process.
It is not so much a play date but an endurance test, where no adult conversation is muttered and you spend most of the time hoping they will feck off so you can try and get your kids to sleep and catch up on last nights Eastenders.
The pre-schooler playtime
Pre schoolers, they want to be independent and come without a parent, but truth is, when they do, they often spend the session in a whole state of shock.
We had a friend round to play when the twins were little who spent the whole time staring at me with eyes filled with unrestricted terror. No words were spoken except “Mummy” and it was like having a human doll glaring at you.
The plus about pre school playdates is they are often cut short through fear. In our case it was when the poor child wet herself because we had forgotten she was still here and she didn’t dare ask where the loo was.
Like most things in evolutionary terms it gets worse and becomes embedded in technology. Playdates are no different.
The school age playdate all want to disappear into a futuristic world and build houses online rather than from lego. Fine if you have a tablet per child, argumentative if you only have one.
The other kick in the nuts is, the playdates get longer. Gone are the drop off for an hour or so of preschool days. School day playdates are serious, they arrive post school ( after you play who gets to not sit on the car seat because you forgot the spare again) and they don’t leave until every chicken nugget in the house has gone and it is dark outside.
And brace yourself..
Sometimes they sleep over.
Yes, I mean stay all night.
Sleep being a confusing term because they actually spend the night launching from room to room not even trying to be sleuth like.
They talk, laugh like hyenas, steal food from the fridge and simply ignore when you lose your cool and issue the threat of separation.
Nothing shows you how little impression you make as a parent until you are ignored by a multitude of other peoples kids.
Then the next day you have to endure the hangover of the playdate. Your own (obviously, from the emergency gin stock), plus teary eyed little monsters who can’t exist on less than ten hours kip, so subsequently spend the day over reacting and emotionally broken.
The only upside to sleepovers is sometimes; someone else gets your kids! You still get their hangovers but you don’t have to break up the party – someone else gets to be ignored!
I know this whole process is going to continue to evolve, but if you could do me a favour and lie to me that would be great – tell me it gets better!
I am so excited to be shortlisted in the Mad Blog Awards 2014 in two categories,
thanks to everyone who voted in the first stage
Best Writer and Most Entertaining,
if you would like Northernmum to win, please take a moment to vote here