To Playdate or Not To Playdate, That is the Question

May 11, 2020  |  Published by

Last week, as the announcement came for a slow re-opening of the state, parents of some of my daughter’s friends have started to text asking which families are comfortable allowing the kids to see each other, play and hang out. My first response was, ‘H*** yes!’ These kids need social interaction, and even more so now that it’s getting hot and the recharging benefits of outdoor play is limited. Plus, the opportunity to have them go somewhere else for a few hours, or even have a friend here that cancels out their need to continuously need me—or get on each other’s nerves, seemed like a dream.

Then immediately following was a flood of anxiety. How would their Dad (my co-parent) feel? How would my current significant other (S.O.) feel, given he and his daughter are the only people we have been hunkering down with during the pandemic? What if I allowed it, and then one of the families contract the virus, or worse, what if I allow it and one of us contracts the virus—how would I deal with the guilt? And did I have a plan to notify everyone they came in contact with? What were the other family’s plans to notify? Should the kids wear masks? But they want to swim—it’s flippin’ hot out. And they eat, they constantly eat, so they would be taking it on and off. This can’t go on forever, we have to begin to allow kids to play again (and adults for that matter), right? Am I being ridiculous and over-thinking like I usually do? I mean, I am not saying let them go off to a public place with tons of people and go crazy. I don’t even allow them to come with me to the grocery store. We are talking about one to one play time, or small group of 3 of 4 kids.

Crap! Is this our new world, before we can even think about allowing our kids to play (essential for their well-being, and OURS), we have to run through a laundry list of “what-ifs”, that ultimately have no clear data to make educated decisions. And to top it off, if you have a similar blended family, like ours, we have to take into consideration that it’s not just our decision alone. Once I have an opinion, I have to allow my co-parent and my S.O. and his co-parent to form their own opinions, and if we differ, we will have to have an agreed upon process to reconcile. Oh, and all while the kids are eagerly waiting our decision, salivating at the idea to simply play with a friend.

I took a deep breath and said, ok, it’s easy I just need some decision making steps and start an open dialogue with the S.O and all respective co-parents. I also decided to include the kids in the process so they had some voice, but maybe more importantly they would get to witness the adult’s process of decision making, all the concerns for their well-being and ultimately have to be part of owning the final collective decision, along with all of us adults. They grumbled, and whined (BIG TIME), not wanting to delay their sense of urgency, and possibly innate biological behavior to be social.

The decision in the end was the right one for our family, so I will save you on the minutia, but what I will tell you is there was not complete agreement among the blended families. There were surprises on which adults were actually ok with it at this point in time (they were the ones who started this pandemic off as the most conservative) and who was a little hesitant. Ultimately we landed on a blended approach— honoring all perspectives giving respect and space to how everyone felt. One side of the blended family did not allow their children to play externally quite yet and the other agreed to allow their kids to play with a single family who they knew well and trusted. Next step is to continue this dialogue between two sets of co-parents, three sets of circles of friends. And, an acceptance of this constant hovering waves of anxiety if any of us really made the best decision for our kids, and on the one thing we all know to be the healthiest for kids... PLAY.

Trish and her children
Trish and her children

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