Q&A: How does a WOH parent help her child build friendships?

Amy writes:

"I’m employed full-time outside the home. I have one4-year-old daughter. I drop her off at preschool three days a week, but I’m
not able to pick her up (12:30 dismissal). My mom picks her up and cares for
her at our home in the afternoons. We chose a preschool – and a
neighborhood community — that mostly self-selects for families with one parent
at home, so we are definitely in the minority.

So far, my mom has been wonderful about accepting a few
playdates here and there, and has hosted once or twice. However, she’s
recently raised some concerns about noticing how the other mothers and kids are
really bonding after school. Lots of playdates and swimming pool dates, etc,
happening. Everyone loves my mom, but there are two issues: one, my mom really
doesn’t have the energy to maintain a big, active social life for her
granddaughter (nor an overwhelming desire to forge deep friendships with the “young”
moms). Two, I think the other mothers just connect with each other differently
than with a grandmother (she’s only 58, but I imagine they just don’t
feel the same about reaching out).

My daughter’s current social data points: she is
well-liked by the other kids at school, and seems to be creating some specific
friendships. Outside of school, she spends a lot of time with her (boy) cousin,
who’s a year younger –they play well, but they fight like siblings
and have pretty different interests overall. She doesn’t have a sibling
in the house, and is pretty demanding with the adults around her, wanting lots
of imaginary play all day long. She plays independently for stretches, but her
introversion seems to be veering toward extroversion these days.

Initially, we got a few invitations to play outside of
school, but as soon as the moms learned that I work, the invites stopped. When
I mention weekends, you can practically see them groaning inwardly, and I don’t
blame them – weekends are so impossibly full for us, too.

Meanwhile, I’m operating from a framework of having
grown up with three best friends – our mothers engineered our early
connection in kindergarten. To this day, we email each other every day. So, I
know that I’m struggling with wanting the “same” solid
friendships for my child. And because my friendships have been intensely strong
and lasting, I’m not sure I can accurately measure my “success”
at helping my kid develop and nurture her own relationships. The bar is set
pretty high. And I’m intensely afraid of her feeling left out or lonely,
particularly since she’s an only child.

I am entirely overwhelmed at the idea that this problem is
going to have to be tackled for *years*
to come. I can’t stop working, so …

How do I do this? What do other WOH moms do, and what to SAH
moms recommend for moms/daughters like us to connect with moms/kids like them?
Are they really all lounging around their backyards together everyday, or are
our realities more similar than I think?"

The reality that is similar, even if nothing else is, is that all moms want their kids to have friends.

Note: I'm talking about moms here because Amy's situation is very specifically about moms. Many many of the dads I know have a lot to do with playdates and friendships, so I'm not ignoring you–I'm just addressing Amy's situation specifically. Feel free to offer advice from your POV.

Now I know that there are more similarities between WOH and SAH moms, because I've been both and I was the same person, and the moms in my same "category" all had similar concerns, no matter which situation I was in. (Let me also note that maybe this is a NYC city thing, but there seem to be so many non-standard work arrangements in this city that there are always a bunch of dads and babysitters in the mix so sometimes it's hard even to know who's SAH and WOH and what that really means.)

Because your mom isn't able to just hop into the mix and hang out, you're going to have to specifically pursue friendships with kids your daughter likes. Find out from her which kids she likes the most, and ask her teachers who she likes to play with.

Another plug for preschool teachers: They can be allies for you here, as they can in all things kid while your child's in their class. They see all kinds of things you can't see.

So explain to them the situation, that you want to promote friendships but your mom's not able to just hang with the moms. Ask them if they think the moms of the couple of kids your daughter likes the most would be receptive to playdates with your mom. They'll know what the social scene is, and which moms will likely be receptive and which ones won't. (You don't really want to be friends with the ones who'd refuse a playdate with your mom anyway.)

Then, gather your courage and call or send an email: "Hi, Kelly. This is Amy, Ella's mom. Ella's been talking non-stop about Skylar, and how she wants to play with her. I was wondering if you'd be willing to have a playdate with Ella and my mom next week. We're happy to host." And then you wait to see what the response is.

If you can get a few after-school playdates, then maybe you could expand into evening playdates. When I was a SAH mom, evening was a crazymaker: I'd been on duty all day and then suddenly had to pull a rabbit out of my hat for dinner and the bath-story-bed gauntlet. If someone had invited me over to her house with my kid along (and partner) for a playdate, I would've been happy to eat pretzels and tapwater just to not have to deal. (Of course you will order pizza and have wine or at least ice cues for the tapwater.) Run the kids around together in your basement or yard while you chat with the mom about things you both have in common, and by the time they leave both your kids are exhausted and ready for bed.

I know I have readers on both "sides" of this dilemma right now. Any suggestions from WOH moms who've made friendships? Any suggestions from SAH moms on what would make you accept the playdates without hesitation?

Also, I'd like to give a big shout out to P, the awesome grandma of my kids' friends, with whom I spent many many playdate hours back when I was a SAH mom, and to the excellent nannies of my kids friends who had a lot of really funny stories to tell while we were at the playground. And a big hug to all the SAH moms and dads who have gladly accepted playdates with my babysitters and my kids' dad now that I'm a WOH mom.

36 thoughts on “Q&A: How does a WOH parent help her child build friendships?”

  1. I can speak to the OP’s comment that she is intensely afraid of her daughter being left out or lonely, as she is an only child. I am an only child. I do not recall many play-dates in my preschool years. After school, everyone just went back to their own houses and that was that. I had no same-age relatives around, either. I think I played with a few of the neighbors kids now and again.Subsequently, I have had no difficulty making or keeping friends. I have close girlfriends, some of whom I have known since grade school.
    When it comes to your child’s social life, I think you try to build the best framework you can and then it is largely up to the child. Tweak when needed, but there might not be anything that needs fixing. Good luck!

  2. I’m a SAHM. I do a lot of activities with other moms, but in general I don’t care for actual playdates at my house unless they are drop-off playdates. I just don’t have time to sit and socialize these days. I would suggest finding out from the teacher or whoever if any of the moms would be interested in a drop-off playdate arrangement. It would be socialization for your daughter and give the grownups a break (I find my son is much easier to deal with if he has a friend to play with, so even though it is basically babysitting it is easier than sitting home with my son alone.)

  3. I am A WOH mom, and I find it incredibly difficult to do playdates, but what I suspect is that the other parents, who I just see in passing when I pick my kids up from daycare, have the same problem. I’m not really worried about my kids’ social life- they are in daycare all day three days a week with lots of kids.I want playdates for me. 🙂 I have adult interaction at work, but no interaction with other moms. My SAHM friends dropped off the planet when I went to work full-time, not because they were mean, but because they didn’t want to do anything kid-related in the evenings. So what I think I need is a good way to bridge the gap between the other daycare parents and I. We only see each other in passing, but our kids know each other well.

  4. I have a lot of great mom at my daycare. We actually have hooked up and do a Mom’s night Out almost every month, which is a great way to get the scoop on the other mom’s daycare opinion – but we’ve also talked about potty training, pass around hand me downs, and life in general with moms who are going through the same things. One mom is really organized, and has this whole schedule of different parks we can meet up with her on Saturday mornings (her husband works on Saturdays so she like to get togehter with other moms).But, of course, the boys that my son loves – their parents don’t come to those outings. I just reached out to one of the mom’s this past weekend, because my son has just started asking to play with him. We asked if he would like to join us on a Sunday afternoon outing to the local beach/lake and they were really receptive. I also like your idea of suggesting that people come over right after work – you oculd totally do cheese and crackers for the parent, and pizza for the kids – easy and fun!

  5. WOHM here. I second the “evening” playdate. Now that it’s summer, we’ve been arranging lots of playdates at the local park or beach for a BBQ or picnic. Kids burn off energy, usually no cooking involved unless I can draft my husband along with the little bbq (seriously, it’s usually sandwiches, cold roast chicken, cut up fruits and veggies), and we are getting out of our too hot house. Also, not much mess to clean up. All moms I broach about this are very receptive and our summer has been filled with far more playdates than the winter was.

  6. Our situation is a little different, since our day care situation selects for families with two parents working outside the home.We’ve done some play dates, but yeah- weekends are crazy so it is hard to schedule. One thing that has worked well with our group is for a few of us to decide on an outing (for instance, the beach), and then just put out a blanket low-key invite to the entire class. No need to RSVP, just show up. Since there is a core group that will be there, there are no worries about getting your kid’s hopes up and having nothing materialize. Since it is a public place and a group outing, it feels less intense than trying to set up an in home play date. It is interesting to see who shows up, and I’ve noticed the kids are super excited to see each other even if it is not someone they usually play a lot with at day care.
    The core group formed because one mom was outgoing enough and persistent enough to get us all together. Also, she invited us to her daughter’s birthday party and we went… and things just kind of grew from there.
    So Moxie’s advice of just gathering your courage and arranging something with one of the kids you hear your daughter talk about is good, I think.
    Another thing you could try is to look for a working mom’s support group/play group in your area. Or just suggest a playground meet up with another working mom you know.
    With all that said, I also think you can give yourself a break. It doesn’t sound like your daughter is really suffering from the relative lack of play dates. She will probably make friends as she gets older and goes to school. I don’t think my parents orchestrated a darn thing in terms of friends for me as a kid, and I still had some really good friends. I am still in touch with my best friend in second grade.

  7. I’m interested to see the answers to this–I WOH also, and even though my husband is a SAHD, he is just temperamentally inclined not to go for playdates–he’ll hang with the moms/kids on the playground, but is a bit of an introvert himself so has never been the playgroup or playdate type. And I do see that the kids who seem more bonded are the ones whose SAH moms hang out together more. Now that she is in daycare 2 days/week my daughter is always asking for playdates with the other kids; since (obviously) most of those kids’ parents work too, and we don’t always know them, this is a challenge.But I would add that since the OP’s daughter is 4, this will probably *not* be a problem for “years”–I think once kids reach grade-school age, they are much more in charge of their own friendships. In a few years they will be telling *us* exactly who they want to hang out with and when. We’ll just provide the transportation. 🙂

  8. I wanted to say that it sounds like the OP’s life has set her up with really high expectations – kindergarten-based lifelong friendships, wow.I don’t have that exactly (my longest-standing friend and I met in grade 8 for me, 9 for her) but I have no complaints.
    I don’t really see it as my job as a parent to set up *lifelong* friends. I think that would be tremendous pressure on a person. I do think it’s my job as a parent to help my son learn how to make and maintain friends, but if the learning process involves changing friends it doesn’t worry me. Maybe this is an urban viewpoint since there are just so many friends available.
    On a practical level I like Moxie’s idea about the invite to the friend. Evening playdates wouldn’t work for us very well because of timing (the earliest they could start would be 5 and my son starts bedtime at 7…that whole don’t-lose-the-hour thing, and even though it’s two hours, it would be high-risk for meltdowns).

  9. I’m a WOH mom with twins (so I have built in playmates) – I tend to lean toward the inclusive/group thing and am a pretty good planned when it comes to stuff like that. When I had a random day off from work, I’d email the preschool group (from the list the school gave us) even though I didn’t really know anyone to see if they wanted to meet at the park after school for a casual picnic/park playtime. The moms were really receptive and I think just appreciated someone trying. For reference, pretty much most of the moms in my boys’ preschool were SAH moms and really seemed to try to be inclusive. The random day here or there that I dropped or picked up the boys, they’d all chat with me and ask about life, etc. It probably helped that my boys (esp one) are exceptionally social so they KNOW all the moms.We try for afternoon playdates. We have the luxury of getting home early (4ish) so we can have kids (and their parents) over earlier than most WOH families. I will always throw out the invite to have dinner too (I make dinner pretty much every night so making enough for a couple more people isn’t a big deal and now my boys LOVE when people stay for dinner). On the most part, folks are receptive to it – there will always be a family that has an earlier bedtime or isn’t up for that and I totally respect that but it doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.
    As WOH mom, we also found weekend activities – we found that many of the families in those activities either had WOH or they had the dad (who WOH) participate. We have done Sat AM music class for the last 4 years and have become pretty tight friends with the other parents in the class and our kids are pretty close too. It is easy to go straight to the park/coffee after class together and that has become the norm each week. We don’t typically see them other than Sat but the friendships are still strong.
    This summer has really shown though that even if my boys don’t see any of their pre-K friends regularly (since there is no class in the summer), the random day here or there that they do see them they still see to really enjoy each other and have a great time. The initial school bonding was what stuck and it didn’t appear that I had to keep that bond open by having them play/see each other every day/week, etc.
    What I’ve found challenging, actually, is connecting with my SAH friends (friends that I was friends with before kids) with kids (most live at least 30 minutes to an hour or so away). Their weekends book up and evenings are rough (in this sense where one of us has to commit to driving in traffic an hour or so each way). That part has been really frustrating.

  10. Our kid is in daycare all day, playing with other kids that he likes and who are mostly the children of our friends or people who could be our friends if we put in the effort.I can see that other parents seem to be Much More proactive with playdates than we are. We are happy to have social dates with our friends and their kids, which generally revolve around dinner (either weekend or weeknight) or perhaps a fun family activity, like a trip to the lake. (Anything that wears out the kiddo is good by me.)
    But, honestly, we like to spend our nonwork time together as a family. I waited a LONG time to be a mom, went through infertility and adoption, and I work 40 hours a week after an all-too-brief six-week maternity leave. I want to spend time with my kid in the evenings and weekends. I want him to have a relationship with ME, not little Joie. It’s just not our priority to have him have *more* social time with the kids he already plays with everyday.
    All that said, I do think there is a distinct difference between a friend made in kindergarten, where you are in school together, and those engineered by playdates.
    I’m sorry I’m not hitting the meta-issues here, but I guess my contribution is to say: I just don’t think preschool socializing is that big of a deal.

  11. I second Shandra and Stephanie’s comments. I don’t want to dismiss Amy’s worries– it’s very valid and normal to want your kid to have friends and a strong social network. As an only child who moved a lot, I love the idea of my son being lifelong friends with people he met in preschool. As an adult, however, I don’t feel that I lack for friends– I have very close friends I met in college and grad school and the fact that I didn’t know these folks in Kindergarten doesn’t seem to matter. And on the flip side, I’ve known many people who grow apart from childhood besties because they don’t have anything in common as adults.There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that Amy’s daughter isn’t well socialized through her interactions at pre-school, spending time with her cousin and the occasional playdate– sounds to me like she spends lots of time playing with other kids and her behavior is normal for a preschooler. Why not assume the kid is socializing just fine and has the ability to forge her own friendships over time rather than telegraphing anxiety that she’ll be a social outcast if her parents don’t organize her social life? Lowering one’s standards might help, too; having such a high standard for lifelong best friendships being formed by kindergarten (which I think is very rare) kind of sets the mom up for anxiety and the kid up for failure (as Shandra pointed out, this is an awful lot of emotional pressure).
    That being said, I know letting go of a closely held worry about something we think is really important for our kids can be hard– I struggle with this all the time and have to remind myself a lot that my child has his own journey and often my role is really just structure & support (as Stephanie said).

  12. I’ve been very concerned with this lately as well, especially since I switched my daughter’s pre-school for the summer and she’s about to start a new school in the fall. I know she is young, but I worry that she won’t really have a chance to bond with other kids because of her moving around. (Hello, projections, my old friend! Why yes, I did go to 5 different schools 5 years in a row.)An evening playdate is a great idea! Even though we have an early dinner and early bedtime routines, we still have some time to invite over that neighbor with the two kids whom I’m trying to make friends with!
    Weekends are so hard. I keep trying to set up playdates with kids I think my daughter gets along with, but then we get sick or too busy or something and it doesn’t happen.
    This is why I love kids birthday parties! They always happen on the weekends, a bunch of kids get together and parents hang out and chat. Plus cake!
    Speaking of needing mommy (and daddy) playdates, I’m trying to coordinate an adult-only get together for DC area peeps in August. If you are interested, come vote for a date/time on my blog!

  13. Goodness, this seems to be a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself and your daughter.I’m a WOHM mom of two and accepted that my life, and my kids’ lives, are just going to be different than those of SAHM families. There are certain things we simply can’t fit into the day. Not that I don’t sometimes feel guilt and there are moments when my 7 yr old doesn’t understand why he or we can’t do this or that, but I figure it falls under the category of this-is-how-life-works.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about a 4 yr old developing life-long friends at this point. I have some wonderful, rich, rewarding friendships that have developed at various ages of my life (just as some have ended), none of them starting when I was 4. Your daughter will make plenty of friends when she starts elementary school and when she starts involvement in after-school activities.

  14. I barely have memories from age four, let alone lifelong friends from that age!I have a child who is the same age as yours and I worry a bit about whether he has friends and the amount of socializing he gets to do with them. I’m a f/t student SAHM (at the moment), so we’re able to do some playdates; unfortunately, we don’t really know anyone with kids his age. We’re poor, so our son attends a subsidized preschool and most of the parents there can barely juggle work, child care, transportation, and home responsibilities, let alone a lot of extra socializing. None of the parents from last year’s class were ever responsive to suggestions of playdates; we’re hoping this year will be a bit different. So I understand where you’re coming from – I worry that my son isn’t getting the opportunities he needs to build friendships.
    However, we’re talking about 4YO kids! They do get time for socialization at preschool, so it’s not as though they’re being raised completely separately from other children before being thrown to the wolves in kindergarten. I certainly second the suggestions of making the teachers your allies and trying the evening playdates (that’s a good idea that I plan to poach!), but Amy, I suggest scaling back the expectations a bit. Your daughter will not be bereft of the ability to make long-term friendships if she doesn’t attend regular playdates at age four. Try some of the suggested variations on the attempts you’ve made, but if things don’t work out, you certainly won’t be emotionally scarring your daughter for life.

  15. I’m WOH as is my husband, and so were both my parents. I have lots of great friendships, though none of them started in kindergarten. 🙂 I think the primary reason that I didn’t have similar worries was that Mouse was in preschool 9-5:30, 5 days a week, instead of just a few hours a week. It was a wonderful learning and socializing experience, and personally I highly recommend full-time preschool to anyone who can afford it.We really let Mouse take the lead on telling us which kids she was interested in playing with, and then we’d catch up with the parents through email or at drop-off. For her friends whose parents were SAH, we’d often do an exchange where one day they’d pick Mouse up from school at 3 (before aftercare) and then we’d fetch her from their house at our “usual” pickup time; then we’d abscond with their kid on a weekend afternoon outing when they were tired or needed to run errands. Doesn’t do as much to develop relationships with adults; but then, kids she liked didn’t always correspond with adults we wanted to hang with. When that serendipity did happen for both generations, then we’d start hanging out on weekends – just hanging out and it didn’t have to be called a playdate. (Side rant: is there a more icky word in the English language than playdate? I really don’t like it.)
    Our school also had a tradition of big, but low-key b-day parties – you had to invite all 18 kids in the class and customarily siblings too, but most people just had hot dogs and cake at a park. So that was a good place to meet people and make plans.

  16. We don’t do playdates much either, but both me and my kids have built a network of ‘friends’ by going to the same parks at the same time a number of times a week. Of course, we live in a fairly small town and the kids my son’s age more than likely go to his kindergarten and so they kind of ‘know’ each other already, and that certainly helps.But it really is amazing how many pseudo- friendships I have struck up this way with my kids’ friends’ parents or grand-parents. At least I know that if I have to go to the park, there is someone there to talk to, and who knows maybe I’ll finally actually make one or two real friends too.

  17. SAHM, and I’d be willing to do playdates on the weekends if they were whole-family activities–nature walks, or family bike rides, or going to a fair together, or just getting together in the evening for dinner. I’d especially be more receptive if a working mom told me that her kid really dug my kid and she was bummed that she couldn’t get together during the week because she really wants to see a nascent friendship develop into something more.

  18. What @Stephanie said: “When it comes to your child’s social life, I think you try to build the best framework you can and then it is largely up to the child.”And what @Shandra said: “the OP’s life has set her up with really high expectations – kindergarten-based lifelong friendships, wow.”
    And ditto everyone else who echoed the same sentiments. Age 4 does not equal life! Of course Amy (the OP) already knows that, but sometimes our own childhoods get in the way. 😉 Actually, truth be told, MY own childhood is getting in the way of how I’m seeing @Amy’s query.
    I have an effed up relationship with my own mom, and I’m honestly just thinking what if my 3 BFF’s today were girls my mom picked out for me at age 4? Holy hell… And what if my mom, also a former SAHM (who BTW is NOT AT ALL supportive of my decisions to use daycare & babysitters) was a critical piece of my own current childcare arrangement? I’m guessing I would be feeling like my choice to be a WOHM might be the source of some unspoken tensions/conflicts with my own mom. Even over seemingly minor things where I sense that my kids’ aren’t getting whatever it is that I once got. I might even be feeling like my mom is judging me, even if she isn’t. I don’t know if you’re feeling that at all @Amy, but you did seem to mention your own mom a fair amount, so I thought I’d just throw it out there.
    I actually think the WOH/SAH dichotomy is bit of a red herring – not to dismiss @Amy’s concerns, which are valid, I just question the attribution. Even if she became a SAHM, that’s still no guarantee that her daughter would be able to replicate her unique, insta-BFF-filled childhood. I know plenty of SAHM’s who struggle to make real friends, and it makes me think there is a lot more to it than just the work status of the mom. Bottom line – Are YOU happy with your current work/life arrangements? If so, that’s great! The kids will make friends – or not – based on their own personality. Please don’t let this be a source of working mama guilt, seriously. 😉 Before we all know it, we’ll have zero control over the many friends our kids have chosen!

  19. My daughter is only 2 and not in school yet, but if the main issue is getting friendships for your daughter, does it have to be a playdate where the parent comes, too? Can you invite your daughter’s friends over and have your mom keep an eye on 2 kids at a time instead of just 1? I’d kill for a couple of hours of free time where another, responsible parent (or grandparent) watched my kid while they played with a friend.I also had a ton of friends in Kindergarten, but only remember a vague friendship or 2 in younger years. So the chances that things will change next year when she’s in full-time school and she will make at least one long-term (if not life-long) friend are greater.

  20. Former WOH here – I think I would have collapsed at the thought of socializing after a work-day, but I’m also an introvert. Back then a gang of us all with 2 working parents and kids from baby to preschoolers would have weekend parties, and it was great. My neighborhood playgroup on the other hand — well, somehow I got into the loop and introduced my nanny and they accepted the substitution, but I found out another WOHM was not given the same break. Why? Well, my nanny was “different”. As in white and 30. Makes me seethe to this day. Now that I am no longer a WOH (don’t quite know what I am these days) I’m maybe even more anxious about the social scene. We live in a condo now and here in DC people with kids just don’t do that. Glad we left the suburbs, but networking is going to be trickier now. I’ve gone to Bear’s preschool get-to-know-each other park play dates and must agree that teachers will be the best allies in this regard. I went to the director and said “I do not know a soul here and I am shy” and she swooped up moms of kids who will be in Bear’s class and did a beautiful job helping me integrate.

  21. I don’t have much advice, but maybe ask around to see if anyone has a spouse/partner with a non-traditional schedule. I’m married to an ER doctor, and I spend lots of evenings and weekends on my own with our kids. I love evening and weekend playdates because they break up those tough hours between nap and bed, as well as long weekend days when most other people are having “family time.” If another mom from my kids’ preschool emailed me and said, “hey, I’d love for our kids to get to know each other better. Why don’t you bring your kids over to our house so they can play and then we can order pizza?”, I’d be delighted to accept.

  22. I am a former WOHM. My schedule was such that I usually picked my son up at around 4:20. I had a SAHM friend with a kid just a few months younger than mine, and I would stop by her house after pick up a few times a month. Often, she would make an easy supper for the boys and we would chat and have snacks. That way, we could stay later and when I got home all I had to do was get my boy ready for bed. Usually on those nights my husband and I would order in and have a date night on the couch. It was a good set up: we both got some time with another mother, she got some needed distraction during the witching hours of late afternoon,kids got to play, and I didn’t have to make supper that night.I guess I just want to emphasize that with a little adjustment, SAHMs and WOHMs can play together too, and everyone benefits.

  23. Got halfway through the comments, so stop me if you’ve heard this before…I think it really depends on whether you’re trying to find friends for your daughter or if you’re trying to find friends for yourself (and your daughter.)
    As a SAHM (who never stays home!) I also cringe when a WOH mom suggests a weekend playdate, mostly because my DH takes over a lot of the childcare on the weekends so that I can go to yoga, catch my breath and catch up on household stuff that makes the kids scream in unison (computer and phone related stuff, mostly.) Not only that, but I actually like spending family time on the weekends and like when my weekends look different from my weekdays. So a solo playdate with the kids is too much like what we did on Tuesday. Oh, and I stay the hell away from parks, museums, malls, etc on the weekends – I like my weekday errands crowd of other SAHM and kindly old folks. Can’t stand the weeekenders and I’m guessing they’d rather I stay out of their way, too.
    That being said, if there was a mom I clicked with, or my son clicked with, and she seemed eager to connect, I’d be really receptive to it. Especially if she offered to feed me and my kid pizza (or for us, a non-dairy alternative) or went through the trouble of finding a fun place to meet up, like a concert in the park.
    Also, I find that initial playdates only last an hour or so before someone starts snapping under the pressure to be likable (moms and kids alike) and when reminded of that (“Hey, I was thinking about going to Lake Park for an hour or so before the dads got home – wanna join us?”) I am much more inclined to accept. Oh yeah, it’s only an hour. I can do that. I can be funny and nice and semi-awake for an hour. Ok, maybe 45 minutes.
    So snap on your bravery belt and charge forward. I’d definitely concentrate my efforts on the moms who seem cool and receptive and then relax. Remember, we live in the age of Facebook. You can only keep up with about 100 friends, so don’t try to overdue it or else then she’ll have the guilt of not having responded to so-and-so’s email from three weeks ago or liking what’s-her-face’s status update. Relax. She’ll be fine.

  24. I have a four year old and I think it’s old enough that she could have some drop-off playdates. If you find out who she really likes and is comfortable with, maybe Grandma can go along for 30 minutes, then go have coffee by herself or run an errand for 30 minutes.

  25. This playdate thing is kind of foreign to me, partly because BabyT is only 10 months, but also because we never did that as kids. I was expected to just meet friends at school or in the neighborhood, etc. or hang with my parents’ friends’ kids when they decided to get together.I do find, in general, that it’s not so much that new people don’t want to hang out, as much as they don’t want to deal with the details of actually planning it.
    Whenever I make the first “move” and suggest an outing or lunch or whatnot, it works pretty well. I think some people are just not planners, or are just as nervous about reaching out.
    So suggest something to another mom, and if that person blows you off, then try again with someone else. You can tell pretty easily when someone is really just busy and is willing to make the effort to reschedule vs. not making an effort at all.
    Good luck 🙂

  26. When my daughter was in preschool, one of the moms organized a coffee get-together regularly. There were only a few of us who were regulars, but it was great to get to know a few people. Some of those moms are, like me, there again with the younger siblings, but the ones I particularly connected with have left and the new ones are all young and wealthy (I was actually kind of a kiddo in my late 30s among the last crop!). I think a potluck party in the park would be nice, too. And if there’s a park adjacent to school, head over there as much as you can. I got to know several parents at my daughter’s school (which has no PTA or anything) that way. I’m pretty introverted, so I was really proud of myself when I had a decent amount of people to say goodbye to at the end of school event because that took WORK for someone like me!Also, if you don’t live right where her daycare is, this is a short term problem. We live in the city, everyone at the preschool lives in a nearby suburb, and most of those kids go on to kindergarten together but my kids won’t.

  27. I just wanted to comment on the making friends line.I haven’t kept in touch with anybody that I went to school with. My best friend in pre-primary was my cousin but the friendship didn’t really last past high school.
    My closest friends now are my husband, my sisters, a guy who I have known since i was two (through church of all things) and a small group of women I met through a social club at uni.
    There were many times during high school when it felt like i didn’t have many friends, but i later learned that it was because i genuinely didn’t have anything in common with the people i went to school with – we just happened to be at the same place at the same time.
    the point of all of this i think is to now stress about it too much. sure, go for your play dates (my son is nearly six and had his first only a few months ago) but don’t think of it as “make friends now or never”.

  28. Finally got a chance to post. I have to say it is hard when you WOH to juggle playdates and such. I used to run a working mom’s playgroup and it basically disbanded because it was always the same 2 other moms as scheduling was such a pain. Don’t get me wrong, one of these moms is now a very dear friend of mine and her kids and my kiddo are bestest buds but still. And ugh on the evening playdates, I guess it depends on a lot of things but that never would have been my thing.I WAH and have my son in a local preschool run by the school district that selects for one stay at home parent. I’m able to send him there because I work from home and can pick him up (we have a part-time nanny for my preschooler and 1 yr old). It was a little frustrating to get folks to understand that I couldn’t go to the park or whatnot after school just on a whim. But honestly it didn’t come up that frequently. Almost all of the kids had other siblings and the parents seemed to be juggling other stuff.
    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Do what you can and when you have a random day off (I work in banking and loved bank holidays for playdates), see about setting up a playdate. Although you might have better luck with other working parents. I get the perspective of SAHMs not being especially receptive to weekend playdates but as both my husband and I work, we have to divide and conquere. Sometimes I am solely on kid duty so he can workout, mow, whatever and sometimes he is so I do stuff.

  29. I really want to thank @Stephanie for her post. Very much.And @Shandra and the other posters too.My little girl an only child and is only 2.5 and the only group activities we attend are classes of music and gym and dance for tots without food. Allergy issue, avoiding all other groups/daycare until she’s over three.
    Anyhow, like the OP I’ve become aware that some mums who met at the same activity are setting up play-dates in small groups. Some newcomers are invited, others not. We weren’t. Big deal huh?
    Not. But it ignited my fears from my past. My late mother had mental issues. Which caused her to rage at my little friend in Kindergarten.
    He ran away at great speed and soon the word went around the class that my mother was The Wicked Witch appearing in our story hour book. That stuck all three years.
    In primary and secondary school I made a few friends, but although nobody called my mother a witch, she did make adults and children uneasy.Tumbleweed at my birthday parties after the first one.
    I’ve done just fine with the friends I’ve made as a grown-up since and am still close to a friend from secondary school. I married him.
    But even as an adult I lived in a small town for a while where nobody was friendly with incomers, any, but I assumed that it was me who put everyone off. Self esteem and all that. Moved and that fixed that.Self esteem gone up too.
    There’s no sign whatever that DD is not friend material. She holds hands and plays alongside toddlers she knows. I have friends with kiddies and without and we meet up.
    Logically I knew the reaction about the play-dates I had was unreasonable. But seeing this post and the reactions helped me feel that.

  30. What Stephanie and Shandra said, but also this:You can only facilitate the environment, not the results.
    A lot of times people ask questions like “How can I make my baby sleep?” or “How can I make my child eat (and like) X or Y food?” and…you can’t. You can set up an environment conducive to sleep and you can encourage healthy attitudes towards food, but you can’t make anybody sleep or eat, and you can’t do anything to make sure your daughter has friends.
    You can keep trying with playdates, encourage her good manners, take her to the same parks every weekend for a few months to see if the same kids show up, sign her up for a weekend swim class (or something) and generally create a supportive environment conducive to friendship, but that’s all you can do.
    Make the supportive environment your goal (and measure for success), not the friends part.

  31. My child’s preschool teacher told us not to be surprised if he had a new “best” friend every week or month or so. And that’s pretty much been the case, although I’ve noticed there are 2 girls he plays with a lot this past year. His first best friend (and they were “bests” for months) switched schools, and when we saw him out and about a few months after he left, neither boy recognized the other.We haven’t done a lot of playdates since the preschool serves a university population and most of the families live out in the ‘burbs. I don’t worry about this, especially since as an only child, I feel he needs to interact with variously-aged kids (just like he would if he had siblings). He loves to play with the 2 year old on our street, which I figure is good for both of them!

  32. @akeeuyu- your point that you can only set up the environment for X,Y,Z in child development is spot on, I think. You can’t GUARANTEE an outcome on anything, because so much is outside of your control. Accepting that- truly accepting that- has been one of the big lessons of motherhood for me.@Wilhelmina- my heart is breaking for you as a little girl. FWIW, I have no such history and it still stings a little when I find out we were excluded from a birthday party or play date or something. Rationally, I know it is going to happen and in fact SHOULD happen. But I’m not always rational!

  33. I stress out about all of the socialization stuff too. I worry a lot that my son isn’t getting enough of a chance to work his friendship muscles.But I read Amy’s situation differently. I kept thinking, “How awesome that this kid gets regular bonding time with her grandmother.” She’s got the rest of her life to work on her friendships.
    I was not really very close to any of my grandparents and both of my parents are gone, as is FIL. MIL is just crazy enough that we cannot rely on her unsupervised. So I’m just envious that Amy’s child that gets to really, really bond with her grandmother.

  34. Perhaps focus on neighborhood frendships, or those that can be cultivated at the park, library or other convenient places for your mom. She’s already making friends in her time at preschoool. I wouldn’t stress too much about missing out on further bonding in the afternoon. She gets to bond with grandma and that is great!

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