by JP, Sidekickdad | JP or Sidekick Dad, is a husband and new dad (a girl dad to be specific). He is a college student, switching careers from the financial field to be a future teacher. He also writes a blog called Sidekick Dad and, most importantly, he is a sidekick to his amazing daughter. You can follow Sidekick Dad via Instagram @sidekickdad and visit his blog www.sidekickdad.com
How, as a stay-at-home dad, do you set up playdates? This is a question I wondered the moment I became a stay-at-home dad, and knew it was going to be tough. Here is my experience thus far.
First a little background on me. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for the past year and a half, since my daughter was born. It’s been absolutely fantastic! We go on adventures every day, such as weekly outdoor story times at the library or trips to the beach.
Pretty much every day, we are out in the world doing an outdoor activity. However, now that my daughter is getting bigger and more active, I have been trying to set up playdates for my daughter to interact with children her own age.
A recent swim lesson allowed us to meet a few moms and their kids. One lucky day, we happened to be walking at the park heading to a playground when we saw a group of ladies and kids in the pavilion exercising. My daughter stopped, looked over and waved as she often does when she sees other kids. One of the women recognized us from the swim lesson! She called my name and invited us over. It turns out she was part of a moms’ fitness group that meets once a week to exercise and have playdates with their kids.
At first, they asked me to share the group’s information with my wife, to see if she would be interested in joining their group. I shared with them that my wife works full time, and I am the stay-at-home parent. After that, I ended up on the biggest interview I had ever been on. They asked me questions about my wife working and life as a stay-at-home dad. At the end of happily responding to their questions, they invited my daughter and I back the following week, for the next playdate. I knew this would be fantastic for my daughter to play with other kids. The following week, the playdate was a huge success! I was so thrilled for my daughter, as she just ran and played the moment we arrived.
It was sheer luck running into that mom fitness group that day. One of the biggest challenges that I have been facing lately is meeting other new parents and finding safe opportunities for my daughter to play with other kids in a pandemic world. This group meets outdoors at a park which is amazingly, one of my daughter’s favorite places to visit. Now she can meet other children and get to interact and socialize with them.
The other challenge I have been facing is that when I do meet other parents out at the park or at other activities, we usually just exchange small talk. I had no idea how to ask if they want to meet again for other playdates. Part of it is the pandemic, part of it is because I would feel more comfortable if I was able to meet both parents before committing to meeting someone else. The reality of asking for someone’s phone number, who I just met, is awkward enough.
What I have found that works and may benefit other stay-at-home parents, is to ask when their family is free for a group play date. That means our kids can play together, while the moms and dads get to know each other. Sometimes it turns into a friendship; like the one we now have with another couple, who recently invited us to their house. Other times it is just a, “Hey we’re heading to the pool at this time. If you’re free, meet us there.” Both are viable options. We just remind ourselves that we may not get to connect with everyone we meet, but that is okay, too!
I would love to hear from all of you, on what suggestions you may have for meeting other new parents and what safe activities and playdates you’ve planned during the pandemic!