Back in August last year, I toyed with the idea of writing some posts about motherhood, especially the challenge of balancing it all with work, exercise, blogging, etc. I guess the busyness of living that and striving for balance got the better of my intentions, didn't it. I've got the week off, so I'm going to share some working mumma thoughts.
For this post, I'm going to be brutally honest about playdates. The truth is I hate them. I don't mean that I don't want my kiddos to have friends to hangout with, no. I like that they have friends. What I despise is the whole organizing and arranging of playdates. There's so much fuss involved. Playdates are like actual adult dates, it's ridiculous. Gone are our childhood days of running around the neighbourhood or calling in on friends. These days everything is so structured and organized. Schedules are booked tight with activities and kids don't just have down time. The hubby and I make sure not to book our kids into everything so they can have hang time, but we're in the minority of parenting practices, especially here in Hong Kong.
So here's how organizing a playdate actually works. First, it starts with one of my kids saying that so and so wants to have a playdate with them. I always try to put the ball back in the kids court to organize, so I'll usually ask them to find out what days their friend is free and tell their friend what days they are open. Then the next step is usually an email exchange to arrive at a mutually beneficial time and place. I think that this process may be unique for me because I'm a working mum.
Since I am rarely able to volunteer in the kids' classes or go along on field trips or hangout at parent coffees, my kiddos miss out on a lot of playdate opportunities. That would be okay except that these days it's a huge part of how kids actually socialize outside of school. I don't spend a lot of time trying to keep up with all the organizing of my kids' social calendar as I like to think about friendships and play happening more organically, but that can make my children social pariahs. That's the part that gets me frustrated. It's another reason to pile on guilt to an already large dose of motherhood guilt.
That part along with the fact that nowadays playdates also happen to be such to dos. Whatever happened to going over to someone's house and playing games, watching a movie, playing outside, etc. Why does it have to be like going on a date? Playdates, at least here in Hong Kong, have turned into major social outings. Movies, trampoline parks, amusement parts, etc. What's a working mumma to do? How can we possibly keep up? Come on mummas, can we keep things simple?
I've read a lot lately about how kids need to have opportunities to be bored to help develop their imaginations. They're so programmed and scheduled and entertained (don't get me started about birthday parties), that they rarely have down time to make up games and stories and figure out for themselves ways to pass time and have fun.
So what do I do? I compromise. We're fortunate enough to have a healthy population of kids in our neighourhood where friendships and play can happen without much fuss, but I do recognise that I'd like my kids to develop friendships with classmates, too. Every so often, I will organize a time for the kids to hangout with their other friends (my big teenage boy does this on his own now, so that's a bonus). I don't make playdates a big deal at our house as I'm the first to say go outside and play! So far it keeps my kiddos happy and their friends, too. Not too many people are able to say that here in Hong Kong, so our house is an appealing location for playdates, at least for now. And when they do come up to me and say I'm bored, I just send them back outside and tell them to go figure it out. They usually do.
**Pictures by Michelle Proctor Photography for my Sassy That Mama post. Read it here.