How to arrange a playdate

Although this article isn’t just about the issues stay at home dads have with arranging play dates I feel there are more difficulties for men in this regard. I was recently contacted by another stay at home dad asking if I had managed to arrange playdates for my daughters. I have managed to arrange some, but they’re mostly piggybacking on my wife’s friends from when she was on maternity leave.

The importance of playdates for toddlers

Playdates can be a very important developmental aid for toddlers. Especially those who do not go to nursery or attend toddler classes as it teaches important social skills such as sharing. It is also nice for the children to make friends they see on a regular basis. Even though it’s especially important for children who do not attend nursery and/or toddler classes I feel, it is also a good aid for children who do go to nursery and classes. This is because it teaches important social skills on a smaller scale than withing  a big group setting.

The two main issues for stay at home dads

  • The male – female dynamic: Most of the potential playdate options will be a child with their mother. It can be difficult for both the mum and the dad in this scenario to arrange a playdate. There is the potential for a request to be taken the wrong way and sometimes it just seems easier not to ask for the playdate. The mum will have plenty of other mums to ask, but the same can’t be said for the dad.
  • The delay in looking after the child: What I mean by this is that usually a stay at home dad takes over the child caring duties after his partner has finished their maternity leave. In a lot of cases this will be after a year. By this time most mums will already have made a circle of friends, so there is not really any need or incentive for them to add another person into the mix.

How to overcome these issues

  • The male – female dynamic: To avoid any confusion and embarrassment it’s a good idea to invite a group of mums at the same time. Maybe casually mention about meeting up sometime and just seeing what the reaction is. You will probably find it easier to at least arrange the first few dates in a group setting until you become more comfortable around each other. Another suggestion is to have the playdates in a public place rather than at someones house as they might feel uncomfortable with that. Soft plays are a great option for this.
  • The delay in looking after the child: This is a more difficult situation to overcome if you’ve already taken on the role. However if you’re in the planning stage I would recommend that you start piggybacking on your partners playdates. What I mean by this is arrange to go along to some playdates she has with her friends. Maybe specially arrange some playdates for the weekend  if you are working. In that case partners can come along as well. That way the mums get to know you and will accept you into their group. It also helps if their partners get to know you a little so they don’t see you as a potential threat. If you have already taken over the reins from your partner then it might be an idea to get her to arrange a weekend catch-up with some of her mummy friends so that you can meet them.


Whilst it is definitely more difficult for men to arrange playdates I feel it is worth making the effort to arrange them. I think the first time is the awkward, difficult time, but after that it should get better as the other parents realise it’s mainly about the children and not about them. Having said that whilst it is about the children it’s also important that the parents get on as well.

I’m going to try and follow my own advice and arrange a few more playdates, this is especially important once my wife goes back to work from maternity leave and I’ll be looking after two young children. It will be important for my sanity to get out of the house and have some adult conversation.

Your thoughts

I would be appreciative of any feedback and or comments about how you feel about playdates and how best to arrange them.



The Dad Network


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11 Responses

  1. martyn March 7, 2015 / 7:51 am

    Good post. It’s such an important topic to discuss.
    I have to admit now that in my 6 years being a dad I have never arranged a play date. But not through the want of trying. The male to female dynamic is the hardest and biggest hurdle. Does matter about settings and environments at times it can still be a strange position.
    I believe I have the added disadvantage. Yes I am a sahd but I’m also a single dad. This sadly makes a lot of misconceptions.

    Anyway I digress. My other suggestion is to get your partner to arrange the first one. But you attend. It might seem sneaky but your partner could say if you were going etc. Female dynamic is better. But once you’ve had the first one it would open up opportunity for others.

    Thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky
    martyn recently posted…How the Mental Health System has Failed meMy Profile

  2. Ally Messed Up Mum March 7, 2015 / 8:33 am

    @dadwhoblogs recently wrote a post about being left out from a play date and he strongly feels it’s due to him being a SAHD and not a mum. Its such a shame this would cause issues; a parent is a parent. We want to teach our kids how to get along, why not lead by example? Fab post, I love and insight to the difficulties of a SAHD, let’s hope we can get rid of these. #bigfatlinky
    Ally Messed Up Mum recently posted…We have a playroom!!My Profile

    • stayathomedad March 7, 2015 / 8:59 am

      Thanks for your comments. I will check out the dad who blogs post. I definitely think it’s more difficult for men. But it shouldn’t be. Our local toddler group asked for volunteers last year. I said I would be happy to help, but was told I wasn’t needed. Yesterday the group was cancelled due to lack of volunteers. I have a feeling it’s because I’m a dad rather than a mum.

  3. Ashley Beolens March 7, 2015 / 9:25 am

    There is always that odd situation where if a mum and dad (of different children) are seen talking on a regular basis then playground gossip starts amongst the other parents.

    I’ve never arranged play dates with my kids and others partly for that reason, although I am starting to try more with other dads (not that I’m a SAHD).
    Ashley Beolens recently posted…Daddy and his Baby GirlMy Profile

    • stayathomedad March 7, 2015 / 11:23 am

      I agree that gossip could start, but it’s a shame as it’s often the sahd and their children that miss out.

  4. Lisa (Mummascribbles) March 7, 2015 / 9:36 am

    It’s so interesting because I only have experience of one SAHM dad that came to our baby sensory class. I always thought he was very brave but didn’t think to invite him for coffee afterwards (not that I was the organiser), he’d usually slunk off before we all finished gassing! This post has definitely made me more aware and if I have the luck of being on maternity leave again in the future, I’ll be sure to consider the sahd’s too – for we all need adult talk too 🙂 #bigfatlinky
    Lisa (Mummascribbles) recently posted…Review: Sooty ABC Learn the Alphabet DVDMy Profile

    • stayathomedad March 7, 2015 / 11:21 am

      I think a lot of people don’t realise how difficult it can be. Hopefully this post will help mums understand that dad’s want to socialise too.

  5. Morna piper March 7, 2015 / 10:28 am

    My husband is a sahd and he’s done quite well with socialising. It has been tough though- partly for the reasons you mention and partly because he is quite shy. He started with the mums from baby swimming, they knew me and Helen already and he went for some group coffees after swimming. He also attented a regular play group and is now vice chairman (I’m so proud). He probably has a better social life than me now and definitely has more mummy friends- it’s taken a long time to establish.

    • stayathomedad March 7, 2015 / 11:15 am

      That’s great. It’s definitely achievable I just think it takes more effort for a sahd.

  6. Mum-in-a-nutshell March 8, 2015 / 8:41 am

    It’s great to be able to read it from a dad’s perspective. I agree with the public place thing. I live in a small village and it takes nothing to get everyone talking! #bigfatlinky

  7. al March 12, 2015 / 8:47 am

    Great post, thanks for sharing it, I know I for one would find it really difficult, so great to have some tips. Thanks for linking up #bigfatlinky

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