The town is abuzz with mums meeting for lunches and other child-based social activities. Being fairly new to the town and a dad I exist completely outside of this social sphere. The question I’ve been repeated running through my head is should I be bothered and moreover is my daughter missing out?
Two-year-old Tilly is still a bit young to play properly with other children but she has enjoyed having children of friends visit and going to see them, although none are local. During term time we go to playgroups most days, which offers valuable practice in sharing and other skills, however I can see the summer holidays looming with long periods of little contact with other children her age. I fear progress with come to an abrupt halt.
This all gives me the feeling that Tilly might enjoy play dates with local friends. However with only relatively new playgroup acquaintances to go on, this feels like a tall order.
In an ideal world it shouldn’t be a problem but let’s call out the elephant in the room right now: being a man makes the whole play date thing a more awkward arrangement then if it were all mums. It’s laughable in a sense given that most parents exist in a non-stop state of caffeine-fuelled, sleep-deprived, toddler wrangling. At least that’s how that I roll. I am utterly committed to my partner and daughter as I expect are most parents but yet it seems a level of unspoken mistrust exists between the sexes.
I ran a quick survey of some other stay-at-home dads online and as I’d expected most said that play date arrangements have typically been made through their wife’s social circle and NCT groups, neither of which are available in my case as we moved area.
Do men even do play dates? We don’t generally excel at establishing and managing a social calendar. Yet one dad did say he did make the step of arranging play dates with mums at playgroup. It can be done, in theory. So what next?
I reckon there are three options available:
1. Ask playgroup mums. It was suggested by other dads that arranging something with several mums would help to remove any issues as would arranging something on a weekend with my wife, although this is trickier given how most people have full weekends.
2. Ask a playgroup dad. Substantially thinner on the ground than mums but perhaps soon to be removed from the endangered list, there is the odd dad around I could try to track down to arrange play dates with. Not that this comes without awkwardness – I’m completely at sea at the first mention of football in a conversation – but it might be more straightforward otherwise.
3. Bide my time. Tilly will start pre-school in around a year’s time. I could let her develop her own friendships and get to know parents through the inevitable nursery fetes and birthday parties that follow. In the meantime we could try to call in all our friends with children over the holidays.
What are your experiences? Are you a mum that’s had a play date with a dad or would you if asked? Dads – have you arranged play dates yourself? Please leave a comment.