It can be so hard to make new friends as adults. With our busy schedules and established friends from the past, oftentimes there simply isn’t room for new people in our lives. Besides, where are we supposed to meet these potential new friends anyways? For me, it was always a struggle to meet new people – until I had children of my own.
Becoming a parent opens a whole new social world. I always felt the pressure would be off once I had kids. And to an extent, it was. There are always commonalities between me and the other moms – things to talk about, social events to attend together without even having to try. But now I have come across a new problem – whether our children will be compatible. I thought finding fellow couples to hang out with would be difficult. Try pairing up with another mom and her moody toddler.
Moodiness and unpredictability are a give-in with toddlers, sure. But some kids just seem to click. And then there are those that don’t. My son is mild-mannered and not at all aggressive. If the other kid wants his toy, he (usually) hands it over. Never mind that sharing goes both ways and each child needs to learn that lesson, from both sides of the situation. I certainly don’t want my son being the push-over kid. Yet, whenever we have a playdate, he is the one making the compromises. And I seem to be the one watching someone else’s child get disciplined. I always feel a little awkward when this happens, as if I should be directing my child in some way at the same time. But more often than not, I just sit there, or try to softly advocate for my child.
And you know what, I have found that disaster is avoided when I pair him with certain children. There are kids he just meshes better with than others. I only hope that those are the kids whose moms I can tolerate. After all, when they are young, your kids are basically attached to you. Where you go, they go. Playdates require us both and sometimes, so do my own social outings. Do I need to ensure it’s a great fit for us both? Not necessarily. It is good for my son to learn how to interact in a variety of situations, including the ones where the other child pushes or shoves him. Or the ones which cause him to act out in a similar manner. But seriously, sometimes that just gets so exhausting. Sometimes, I just want to know that he is going to get along well with the other kid while I have a bit of social time. And maybe that means I compromise some, too. Maybe that means I learn to find commonalities with a mom I might not otherwise be friends with. And you know what, that is ok. It seems we all have something to learn.
Tips for Finding Play Date Partners
1. Join online mommy groups and engage in discussions. You will learn what parenting philosophies other moms live by, and discover which moms (and kids) may be compatible with your own. I usually hang out with other moms who are or have been working moms – I just find we have more in common and can relate to each other.
2. Give it a try, just once. You never know until you try whether a potential new friend will be a match made in heaven. At one mommy group event I held, a mom I had never met showed up (via an online mommy group invite). She seemed nice enough, but never came to another event I held again. That’s ok, too. Everybody has their own priorities and she may have found that she didn’t click with the other mommies, and thus moved on. To each his (or her) own!
3. Don’t force a friendship. This goes for both you and your child(ren). If it isn’t meant to be, don’t force interactions just because you get along with a particular parent. If the kids don’t mesh, it may be better to have socializing with that friend without the kids (if possible). Alternatively, some kids will do their own thing at a play date, avoiding each other deliberately. Sometimes, this is ok.
How do you find your perfect playdate mates? Share your suggestions below!