Recently, my kids have been having playdates that consist of me dropping them off at a friend’s house and leaving them there for the rest of the afternoon. These drop-off dates are usually set up by the other parent, who insists that I leave my child, go about my day, and pick them up later.
Hmmm. How do I put this?
BEST. AFTERNOON. EVER.
Seriously, how great is that?
Drop-off playdates are like free babysitting on a snow day. The stars align to give you a rare, unplanned chunk of free time without the guilt or nagging worry about the wellbeing of your children. The kids are safe and happy. And you, my fellow parent, get to exhale and rejoice in the silence for a few hours. Repeat after me: ahhhhhhh.
This drop-off playdate is a new phenomenon for me. For years playdates were either meetings in a public place or going over to a friend’s house and staying with them. This format was fine, I certainly didn’t mind it in any way, shape, or form. I may have even enjoyed it on occasion.
But now that I’ve gotten a taste of the drop-off playdate – a taste of freedom – I can’t go back. At this point if I can’t set up a drop-off playdate for either of my kids, they’re not having a playdate at all. (I’m kidding. Sort of. Maybe. I’m not sure.)
In case you think I’m exaggerating, here is a list of everything I got done during a recent drop-off playdate:
1. A workout that wasn’t rushed.
2. Lunch with my wife at a place that pointedly did not have a kids’ menu.
3. A stop-off for a cup of tea that included a chocolate chip cookie that I didn’t have to share because it’s my cookie, dangit!
4. Errands. Glorious, glorious errands without two kids letting me know repeatedly how boring errands are. (I know how boring they are. I don’t need the heads up.)
The drop-off playdate-induced chunk of free time has become precious to me. I don’t take lightly. Freedom should never be taken lightly – especially when it’s freedom from your children. To honor and, more importantly, protect the free time I have been given, I live by a simple rule: When it comes to drop-off dates, you have to reciprocate. (Please don’t rap that. No one likes a parent who raps.)
Don’t be that person who always drops off their kids but never offers to have the other kids over. It has to be a two-way street. Firstly, it’s just rude not to offer. Secondly, and most importantly, if you don’t offer to have another parent’s kids over after multiple drop-off dates, you will find yourself cut off from these afternoons of leisure you have come to cherish and enjoy. You will officially be put in parenting jail with no get-out-free-card. Do not pass go. And then you know where you’ll be? Spending more time with your kids. And no one wants that.
I’ll admit, originally I felt a little guilty about the drop-off playdate. I felt like maybe I should hang around at the other family’s house and do my part. Even though the other parent was always like, “No! Go ahead and go! Enjoy your day. We’ll be fine here,” I figured they were just being polite but secretly beseeching me not to abandon them with multiple children.
But here’s what I have found: The other parent doesn’t want you around. It’s just one more person they have to entertain. It is actually easier for them to watch your kid than it is to have you there, basically just getting in the way. They ask me to go … I’m gone. So if you think about it, I am actually doing them a service by leaving. By embracing my freedom, I am making the afternoon easier for them, which is all that they want.
Or maybe other parents just really hate me. Either way – I’m good.More On