No Pressure Playdates

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At baseline, before having a baby, I was not a social person.  I liked staying home.  I liked spending my free time with my husband or alone.  I was, and still am a homebody.  I’ve always had a handful of good friends.  I like to believe the best kinds of friends are those who won’t discard you if you haven’t talked in 6 months…or won’t get their panties in a wad when you forget to text them back for 72 hours…or two weeks.  These are my people.  People who understand that we all have a life, and appreciate the occasional overlap with friends.  No pressure friends.  Friends who will be there when shit hits the fan, and won’t hold it against you that you flaked on lunch 3 months ago.  Because, that’s the kind of friend I am.

After having a baby, I’ve actually made a concerted effort to be social for my daughters sake.  Reaching out to other women with kids the same age as my little human because socialization at a young age is important for emotional and physical development.  It feels bizarre to me….to go out TRYING to make friends.  All my tried and true homies became such organically.  The universe put us in the same place at the same time and brought experiences that bound us.  I’ve definitely not felt that energy while trying to make mom friends.  It’s been an effort.   But I’ve found those I have clicked the easiest with have been those on board with the NPPD (no pressure play date).

So what is the NPPD?  I think back to the 80’s when one of the neighbors “dropped by” for a cup of tea.  Having tea was equivalent to the modern day NPPD…..minus the entirely unsupervised children and cigarette chain smoking.  Today, it’s the random text at 2pm, “Hey!  What are you and little human up to?  We need to get out of the house.  Feeling up for a visit?”.  Had I gotten such a text a year ago, I’d be thinking, “Oh gawd,the house is a mess, I haven’t showered in 2 days, my kid has had banana’s caked on her body since 7am and her knees and hands are black from crawling thru my dirty house…there’s no way I can have company right now”.  But since I’m now an advocate of the NPPD, I say, “Fuck it!  Sure, come on over!”.  Because frankly, I need that visit as much as my mom friend needs to get out.  I’ve actually felt a release of pressure from my friends when they walk thru  my front door and find me, my toddler and my home in the same condition as their own.  My house is like Planet Fitness….it’s the judgement free zone.

My two favorite mom friends have been 100% on board with the NPPD.  I knew for sure when one of them came over on a particularly snowy day wearing baggy leggings, fuzzy socks a big top knot, and her baby was in pajamas that were a smidge too small.  We got a glorious 2 hour gab session in, all while sitting on the playroom floor in my messy house.  Had I tried to clean the house, had we chosen to get ourselves showered and changed the babies into “going out clothes” and “having company clothes”….I can guarantee that visit would have either not happened at all or been shaved down to 30 minutes….which makes it a lot of work for very little reward.

My other favorite mom friend totally supports the “skip a shower days” and basically lives in leggings and sweatshirts.  Our kids nap schedules completely conflict, but we love “dinner play dates”.  They involve ordering take out and feeding ourselves and the kids while getting in a visit.  After dinner, we capitalize on that hour before bedtime to let the toddlers tire each other out.  It’s a great way to speed up the longest hours of the day, especially when both our husbands are out of town, or working long hours.   We have an excuse to not make dinner, we’re there to help each other with the kids through the meal and bedtime comes upon us in warp speed.  It’s win win all around.

I’ve been promoting the NPPD for about 6 months now.  It’s really just about making socialization with other moms and other kids as easy as humanly possible.  We don’t need to plan organized activities.  We don’t need to plan two weeks in advance.  We don’t need to have appetizers or drinks to offer.  We don’t need to clean our houses, our kids or ourselves.  We don’t need to be remotely presentable.  We do need to stop giving a shit about our images and worrying over how other people perceive us.  We do need to develop whats really important in this life….relationships with other people.  In the end, the best friends we make won’t care about that superficial stuff anyway.  So why keep putting so much effort in for people who do?

I can tell you this….your toddler or infant does not know the difference between a play date at the aquarium or a play date at home.  They’re not bummed out because you chose the option where you could actually sit and talk with your girlfriend.  They do not care that you didn’t change them or yourself out of pajamas.  Or that you didn’t entertain them.  In fact, the more we do just that, the more likely they’ll come to expect it later in life.  Tiny humans do not need structured, organized entertainment.  They need the opportunity to interact with kids their own age.  They need the opportunity to play without adult involvement.  They need to observe and listen to adult conversations.  All these things they need, they do not get from the seat of a stroller.  Nor do we, as mom’s, get to enjoy our time with another mom, when we’re chasing our kids in different directions through the zoo, or fighting our toddlers to stay in a high chair in a restaurant.   Socializing is just as important for our well being as it is for our kids.  If we’re lonely, miserable, exhausted zombies…how are we supposed to engage with our babies in a healthy way?

We as mothers need to start supporting and encouraging each other to be real.  Real with ourselves and real with our friends.  If we keep spending our entire lives trying to maintain a certain image, we’re going to waste a lot of time and energy on crap that doesn’t matter.  So I say this; put your time with your people and stop worrying over what others think about you.  I’ve learned that maintaining a friendship should not be complicated or pressured or difficult.  It should be easy.  Easy friendships are the ones that last.  And you won’t develop those kinds of friendships unless you’re willing to set that example!

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