These days lots of parents set their kids up with play dates with the children of their friends, so the kids can have friends and the moms can visit while the kids play. It is a common practice, and sets the kids up in their first friendships. It’s rather a new practice, and not a bad one. Kids need friends, and stay at home moms need time to relate to other adults. The play date is a good answer. Nevertheless, the play date is a fairly new event.
When I was a child, we didn’t have play dates. Most moms didn’t work outside the home, but they didn’t do play dates either. They simply told us to go outside and play. And usually there were lots of other kids, right on our own block, whose moms had just told them the same thing. Times were different then, of course, and it was safer for kids to play outside, even after dark…not that we got to do that very often, especially on a school night. When I was a kid, we always had a bunch of kids on our block, and we all played together. I guess ours was more like a block party that a play date.
There were times when the cousins came over for a visit, and while the parents visited, the kids were told to go outside and play. That was ok with us, because really, who wants to listen to all that grown up talk anyway…boring!!! Besides, when the cousins came over, and you mixed them with the rest of the kids on the block, you had the makings of a great time. Of course, there could also be the normal fights when someone didn’t want to share you with your cousins, or vice versa, but those usually were resolved pretty quickly and the fun when on.
I understand why parents today want to have play dates for their kids, and I suppose we had them to, but it certainly didn’t involve parental planning, other than telling us to go outside. I guess either way works, and it’s hard to have the block party kind of play date without first letting your child get to know other kids, but when a play date is with a friend’s child, and the friend doesn’t live on your block, they still don’t get to meet the neighborhood kids. I suppose this is a bit safer, but I like the way I grew up, where kids weren’t worried about making friends with the neighborhood kids. Too bad we can’t still be living in those times.