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.

Awkward

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?

Playdate options

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. 

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9 thoughts on “Should I care about play dates?

  • 18 April 2015 at 5:49 pm
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    Great post. We go to lots play groups and social events, but unfortunately there are very few Dad’s around. I wouldn’t mind at all having a play date with a Dad, but I can understand where the stigma comes from. I hope you get around this problem, and I’m pretty sure Tilly isn’t missing out! 🙂 #bigfatlinky

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  • 18 April 2015 at 6:00 pm
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    My husband is a bit of a social butterfly and used to do a fair number of play dates. He used to meet up with mums from baby swimming and from one of Sally’s play groups. Admittedly I think he waited to be approached rather than doing the asking but I don’t think any mums had a problem with him. I also think at Tilly’s age the play tends to be more parallel anyway and waiting for nursery isn’t going to do her any harm. I think play dates are more for the parents benefit than the child! #bigfatlinky

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    • 22 April 2015 at 9:09 pm
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      Thanks, it’s good to know other dads and managed and as you say perhaps it’s not so crucial at present although I’d like her to play regularly with peers over the summer to avoid returning to her possessive ways!

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  • 18 April 2015 at 8:01 pm
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    I’ve read similar posts from other SAHD’s and I totally get it. If i were at home I’d feel the same things. Are you in our dads FB group? We often discuss this in there. Might help? Thanks for linking up #bigfatlinky

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  • 23 April 2015 at 3:55 pm
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    That’s a very interesting point that I never considered! I never went on play dates with my kids, except to meet up with my own friends and their kids. But if you don’t have friends with little kids I guess it’s different. Maybe if you enroll her in a parent/child class over the summer you will get to know some parents better and it might be easier to try to get together for play dates then. #bigfatlinky

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    • 23 April 2015 at 3:57 pm
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      Great suggestion. I hadn’t considered summer classes but there’ll probably be something for her age

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  • 23 April 2015 at 10:36 pm
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    Do you know what – somehow we end up having playdates with dads (or Mums) in the park more. I’ve no idea why but it works really well. We say something like ‘we’ll be coming back here on Thursday morning if you’re around?’ and that gets the ball rolling. Actually I do know why we don’t have playdates at home so much with parents. It’s because they go something like this….http://internationalelfservice.co.uk/christmas-letters/playdates/

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  • 24 April 2015 at 10:14 am
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    I was in a very similar position to you. We moved to our shire when daughter was 21m, and didn’t know anyone. But I haven’t had any real issues getting to know mums, and arranging playdates. I get a sense that you’re worrying about the gender difference too much. There are definitely groups of mums that like it ladies only, but just leave them to it. You say you don’t know many people in town? Your child is a great way too get to know people. You see a mum at playgroup or playground with a similar aged child? You can talk to her, guilt free, without her thinking you’re on the pull. I’ve arranged plenty of playdates with just one mum & child and it’s not been awkward in the slightest, and I’ve made lots of friendships with other mums via my (now 3yo) daughter. I know more women in the town than my wife!

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    • 26 April 2015 at 11:55 am
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      Hi Simon. Glad to hear it’s working out for you. I speak regularly to parents at playgroups (if briefly due to my rampaging daughter) but haven’t as yet arranged anything outside of groups. Others had given me the impression that it would be difficult or impossible but perhaps in reality that’s not the case. Will keep chatting and see what comes of it.

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