Wednesday, 1 December 2010

16. Slummy not Yummy

The Tank (centre) entertains her mini-hosts
Good, bad or ugly.  A playdate can be any of these.  I went to one this week that really worked, despite an inauspicious beginning when

1.  It was pouring with rain

2.  Magpie was screaming her head off (I thought she was cold, but later discovered she hates the top button of her coat being done up)

2.  I couldn't remember my host's house number

3.  My host wasn't answering her mobile

4.  I didn't have her landline number

So a miracle, really.  Oh and both the host and I have twins.  I have come to the conclusion that there is a recipe for a stress-free playdate, which has nothing to do with the quantity of toddlers present.

You and your host share the same attitude towards order (or lack thereof)

You and your host share the same standards of hygeine (or lack thereof)

You and your host share the same attidude towards water beaker/spoon-sharing (see above) 

You and your host share the same sense of humour when your child bashes one of hers, or vice versa

Let me explain. 

When you have a puppy, for those of you who haven't brought up both man and beast, you give them a rubber Kong (like a rugby ball with a small hole at either end), stuff an unretrievable treat inside and get hours of peace while they lick the thing to death.

At the playdate, My host and I worked out the toddler equivalent (see fig 1. below).  And it's important that I say 'we' worked it out.  As sometimes a host and guest might not be in sync on the game itself or the manner in which it's played (by that I mean the social acceptability of a game which involves scattering snacks on the kitchen floor).  The game is very simple.  All you need is:

A railed room divider (ideal) or a stairgate will do.

High-saliency snacks - saliency is used in dog training, in simple terms it means a delicious treat for which the subject salivates and thereby works hard to retrieve.

Toddlers.  The more, the merrier, creating a competitive edge.

Fig 1.Hours (ok, minutes) of toddler fun.  Magpie and The Tank are bookended by their little hosts; the snacks are just discernable, looking like faded yellow maggots

And that's it.  Now the rules of the game are simply put toddlers on one side of the room divider, and put the snacks on the other side, scattered liberally, but just out of reach.

Fig 2. the snacks are slighter more discernable at the bottom of the photo
Haven't finished preparing lunch?  Now you've bought yourself another ten minutes before feeding time at the zoo really begins.  See what I mean about host and guest having to be in sync, hygeine-wise?  No Howard Hughes types allowed!

Having bonded over the snack retreival game, the two sets of twins behaved impeccably (except for the Tank bashing one of her mini-hosts with a vintage handbag) and the rest of the playdate was a breeze.  Even lunch itself around the table was civilised, when the most adventurous thing the children did was to check out how water tasted in somebody else's beaker......


  1. Very innovative! Will keep this one in mind when little T becomes more agile/mobile! x

  2. Thx L, working so hard have been lax with blog! Will email you! Love the photos of T on FB! xxx

  3. Genius. And I am loving your slothfull approach to motherhood. I alway use that old chestnut - 'but babies need germs to build there immune system' - makes being a bad housewife so much easier...

  4. Lol, you are right you do have to be in sync. I have two good twin mummy friends and luckily we all work from the same page! Mich x

  5. That is absolutely my kind of play date. Not everyone's though, which can be very trying! I think we need to get our girls together. Will email soon, have been really poorly!

  6. Kate, Michelle and B on a B, thanks for your great comments. Glad that I have soulmates on this issue (if you have time to visit my second ever post on July 9, 'Feeding Time at the Zoo' you will understand what I mean when 'playdates go bad'....x