Why We Have To Schedule Playdates

“Daddy, can I have a playdate with Ryan*,” Charlie asked as we walked home from school, his toque bouncing as he dodged the ice on the pathway.

“You should tell mama,” I said. Noting that it is my wife who negotiates playdates for the boys. And then I thought of Chris Bernholdt and how he went viral for declaring he wanted to Banish The Playdate! He thinks kids playing should just happen and scheduled playdates are killing childhood.

This playdate garbage is ruining our kids. I shudder every time someone asks me if our kids can have a playdate together. That word is almost as bad as Mr. Mom. Almost.

This idea that two kids playing together has to be an event is altering the spontaneity of our children. It has become too formal with set dates and times and has rendered my son incapable of calling his friends because he feels awkward asking, especially when a grown up answers. [via DadNCharge]

And then I became “that dad,” face in my phone, typing out a draft of this article as the boys debated Minecraft strategies from a new book Zacharie took out of his school library.

Decades ago, most families had one working parent, and we all went to the same school within walking distance. We all had similar schedules. No longer.

In my community there are no public schools. There’s a private school, but all the kids who go to public school take the bus. There are more than a dozen schools kids in my neighbourhood could attend. Each with a different schedule for dismissals and days off.

The kids my kids play with at school, their besties, live all over town, not down the street.

Then toss in working parents and the myriad of schedules and responsibility that demand time on a family, and there is no longer a chance for kids to knock on a neighbour’s door until they find a playmate.

Kids are in soccer, dance, swimming, art, etc. Only Thursdays do we have a free pass between school and bed. Every other night I’m chauffeuring one of my children somewhere.

So when Charlie asks for a playdate with Ryan, my immediate answer isn’t “sure.” It’s “we’ll try” or “we will see” or “get your mother to plan one.”

I don’t like it much, I wish there was more spontaneous play in my children’s life, but the truth is we now live in a world of scheduled playdates. We just do.

*not his real name

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1 Comment

  1. Simon (Man vs. Pink) February 26, 2016 at 12:25 am

    When my kid is older, then I hope they’ll be able to ‘be spontaneous’ about it, but now we’re all busy – as you say, different schedules for kids and adults. I don’t get the anti-playdate thing at all (sorry Chris). Whatever works is good.

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