The Do’s and Don’t s of Playdates

I never thought that play date etiquette needed to be defined, but after having a few of my own and talking to other moms it has become increasingly apparent that it does.

So, here goes.

The Do’s and Don’t s of Play Dates.

As defined my moi.

DO reciprocate.  If someone has your child over to play, have their child over to play next.

DON’T take advantage of moms that are willing to host the play dates by allowing them to host all the play dates or leave your child there for too long.

For example, my sister has gotten into a rut of always having the play dates at her house for her children’s school friends, which would be OK if she didn’t mind, but she does.   It bothers her that when play dates are planned they always end up at her house.

DO initiate play dates.

DON’T always wait for an invitation.  It might not ever come.

I’m lazy and have to make an effort to extend invitations, but, I do.

DO be precise about the time and date.

DON’T leave the plans open ended.  Pick a specific date to have the playdate and a concise time frame.

I always say something like, “Emma would love to have Chloe over to play on Wednesday after school.”  If the mom says that date will work for her I say, “How about if I bring her home with us from school and you can pick her up at 4:30?”

DO pick up your own child from play dates.

DON’T expect the host to be the chauffeur.

Somehow my sister also ends up being taxi for play dates.  If you don’t like doing so, don’t offer on a regular basis.  I’m not suggesting that if there are special circumstances you shouldn’t give the child a ride home, BUT, in general, if the parent is able, have them do it.  It IS their child, after all.

DO feed the children a healthy snack.

DON’T feed children anything that you think might be iffy.  If you are not sure about serving, say, a caffeinated beverage, err on the safe side and don’t do it.  No one likes to pick up a child that has ONLY been fed junk all afternoon.

DO monitor their play, and get them outside if possible.

DON’T let them watch TV or play electronics.

We have a no TV policy during play dates for a few reasons.  1.  The whole purpose of the date is to play, not vegetate, and 2. you never know what kind of boundaries or limitations others put on what their children watch.  Same goes for video games, computers, etc.

DO have play dates when you have time to be responsible for extra children.

DON’T try to squeeze in play dates when not appropriate.

And lastly,

DO be nice to the child that has been invited over.

DO tell their parents if they act in an inappropriate manner.

DON’T punish your own child in front of their friend.

Remember, play dates are supposed to be fun………not work.  If they are not working for you, don’t have them!

Wanna see what others are saying? Head on over to Mama Kat’s place to see.

About Angie

Angie is a CRAFT dabbling, recipe making, WORD loving, sunshine hording, book DEVOURING, Mama to a lot! She's kind of in love with Instagram right now, so if you want her attention, go find here there. {smiling}


  1. Terrific list. I did this ‘dos and don’ts’ list too but for people embarking on a mixed marriage. I thought you list was great. I was always very particular to pick up my kids on time and to have the other kid over too. It’s very important.

  2. Great list! I especially like “Do be nice to the child that has been invited over.” LOL!!
    *visiting from mama kat**

  3. That is a great list! So funny that you posted this my daughter (4.5 years old) just got invited to her friends house for her first w/o me playdate. I think that I will let her go and then reciprocate to get to know the family better. How did you come to trust the families? I mentioned the idea to a friend of mine and she said no how no way would she ever let her preschooler do this. I only know the mama from school but I would follow Piper to the house. What is your opinion on my situation 🙂

    • If I don’t know the family well then I always have the play date at my house first or say something like, “I’m super protective of my kids. Do you mind if I come in for a few minutes to make sure he/she feels comfortable?” I also keep first play dates VERY short on purpose. Like an hour. That way you can stay if you don’t feel comfortable and your child isn’t there very long if they report back that they didn’t feel comfortable, etc. I think you can get a sense for who you should say yes to. There are some parents that I feel uncomfortable around and I just flat out say no, how about their child come to my house?

  4. Since I rarely do any of the do’s and find myself often on the don’ts side of things these must be really good ideas! I’m horrible at play dates, but I used to be better. Somehow, though as #1 has gotten older it seems he’s gained a number of friends who don’t have younger siblings. This means that they have no idea how to behave with younger children (always trying to exclude #2, playing roughly w/#3, etc.) and they are a pain to have over. Lucky for me, #1 is such an easy person to be around most of the parents around here actually want to have him over. If their kid asks to have a friend over many of them suggest mine because they know he’ll eat what they offer, he won’t be noisy, he’ll follow their directions, and he won’t complain or ask for one little thing. He’s perfect like that.

    • My #1 is the same way. Parents love to have her over. You’re just plain lucky that you don’t have to recriprocate.

  5. ooh good list! I find it esp. hard if I am not fond of th parents- it makes it awkward.

  6. I completely agree about the playdate etiquette and it is a learned behavior. It is a big responsibility to have other kids over to your house.

    My biggest playdate pet peeve is moms who ALWAYS cancel at the last minute. These are the moms who are trying to squeeze it in. Like you said, if it isn’t a convenient time, don’t invite.

    • Oh. I hate last minute cancellations too. It’s a sacrifice for me to have play dates so when I plan my schedule around one and it gets canceled it really annoys me.

  7. I just started play dates. The children are two and their Moms come so it is a chat time for the Mom’s it is nice.. Have a great day. My Round Robin is Friday if you want to share or join in.

  8. Stopping by from Mama Kat’s. Good list. Can we insert this in mommy manuals everywhere?


  9. Great list.
    Now all I have to do is meet people with kids! So what is the dos and don’ts of drinking with the moms on said play dates?

  10. I think my own social life would improve if I followed a few of these rules. 😉

  11. VERY good list. I have been to some odd playdates.

  12. i’m such a novice — i’m filing this away for future play dates.

  13. Love the list! We aren’t big on playdates, but this is a good thing to have on hand for when we have them in the future 🙂

    (found you from MK)

  14. Sigh…I’m not the fan of the playdate. Maybe because I can be shy in initiating the invitation.

  15. really good rules. we don’t really do ‘play dates’ though. it’s more like, Kate sticks her head in the door and says, “Mom! Can Eric come in and play?” and then when I’m sick of them, I tell them to go back outside or over to Eric’s house.
    If I have to get in the car to take kids somewhere, it usually doesn’t happen. Good thing there are lots of kids on our street, or within walking alone distance.

    • It’s so nice when there are kids in the neighborhood to play with. We don’t have ANY. NOt one.

  16. We’ve NEVER had a play date. For real. Both kids go to daycare and it has just never come up. I know that Baby Girl would love for her friends to come over and I’ve asked a couple of time, but none of the other moms seem to be into it. Oh well.

  17. Those are great tips. I remember my poor Mom always got stuck with my dad’s co-workers kids–he would tell them just to drop them off with my mom. They were always brats too!

  18. EXCELLENT list Angie! Perfect for those moms who don’t know they’re guilty of the “don’ts” 😉

  19. I love this list of playdate rules. I love when children can play together. I think it makes life so much better and more fun : )

  20. These are great dos and don’ts. We don’t do playdates yet… what happened to the days when we didn’t need dates to play? We just went outside to see who else was around…

    • I know. We don’t have any kids in the neighborhood for my kids to play with. It’s kind of sad.

  21. Great rules! We don’t do “real” playdates yet. It’s either my friends and their kids or family and their kids and I’m there too or the other parent is here. BUT a little girl in Jack’s class recently asked for our phone number so that she could give it to her mom so she could come play.
    I guess that means it’s time for me to do some inviting. 🙂

  22. Great rules!

  23. Grace's Mom says

    I already know this is going to be really hard for me. I’m going to end up like your sister! And not because I’m particularly nice or anything, but I will have a really hard time sending Grace to someone else’s house, so I will always want to host, and because I am always hosting and asking parents to bring their kids to my house, I will be reluctant to lay down the law!

    I’ve got 2 years to get it figured out, give or take.

    Thanks for the heads up!

  24. Great list! I don’t do playdates ever because I never seem to find children I want my son to play with and if I do…I’m not sure I want to have a play date with their parents. 🙂

  25. Don’tcha just HATE those selfish folks who take advantage of your good nature? When my kids were little, I always seemed to be the host…

  26. Very nice! I think this should be posted and handed out at all play dates.

  27. I wish every mom in America got a copy of these rules!!! Excellent and helpful post! And your sister needs to speak up!

  28. I love hosting playdates but do not like it when parents bring sick kids… isn’t this an unwritten rule!

  29. These are fabulous. We have only had a few playdates with kids other than neighborhood kids. Luckily we have great neighbors, that is one huge reason I don’t wanna move.

  30. Hmph. I’ll never understand this whole “play date” thing. In our house, you want to play that day, you call your friend. I don’t do make-ahead schedules.. it’s just not my thing.

    And I think I’m very guilty of I think it was #2.

    Justine 😮 )

    • As long as what you are doing works for you………..:) I only wrote this because SO many moms complain to me about misunderstandings, conflicts with time, etc.

  31. Oh – I like this! My daughter is 4 and I think she would LOVE to have her little church friends over. I need to print these out and look over them! But I really like what you said at the end – don’t do them if they are too stressful, because honestly, at this point with a 6 mo old, having extra kids to watch PLUS her, kinda stresses me out just thinking about it!


  32. LOVE this list!
    I’m one that also feels playdates should be reciprocated and my feathers are always a little ruffled when they aren’t.
    Awesome blog!

  33. Great list! We have recently embarked upon the world of playdates, and luckily most of this stuff is common sense… or common courtesy. Most of my sons friends are the children of MY friends, which makes it easier too.