It's a term every stay-at-home mom or dad knows well. Play date. It usually goes something like this: One mom says to another mom, "Do you want to have a play date?" Which sounds like she wants the moms to get together and play but she means getting together at a pre-determined time with the kids. The other mom knows this and does not think the first mom is a weirdo who wants to play with her. Other mom says, "Sure, sounds great." And then the two moms pull out their iPhones, check calendars and schedule a play date for 3 p.m. on a Friday two weeks from now.
Is all this play date scheduling hampering spontaneity for our kids? One dad blogger thinks so and suggests we banish the play date.
Plus, said Chris Bernholdt, the stay-at-home dad behind the blog DadNCharge, the whole idea of a play "date" seems contrived. And the truth is, because stay-at-home parenting can be isolating at times, play dates are often as much for the adults as they are for the kids.
"It's a lot of pressure on the host," Bernholdt said. "What do they expect? How long are they going to stay? And is this for the kids or is it because they want to get to know you and develop a friendship?"
But the long-term implications may be worse than just having to spend extra time cleaning up and making elaborate snacks to make a good impression prior to the play date.
On his blog post titled Banish the Playdate, he wrote, "This playdate garbage is ruining our kids. I shudder every time someone asks me if our kids can have a playdate together. That word is almost as bad as Mr. Mom. Almost."
Kids are losing their ability to just play independently, he maintains. "Play is handed to them on a silver platter," he wrote. "We are dumbing down their ability to be independent thinkers with scheduled activity and feeling like we are to blame when they have "nothing to do." Isn't it ridiculous that I feel like I am a cruise director in charge of keeping everyone occupied?"
Bernholdt told ABC News that while he thinks it's great for two parents who truly connect to hang out on the couch and chat while the kids play nearby, sometimes the interaction between the adults is just "awkward." Instead of hanging around with an adult you wouldn't otherwise be friendly with, why not use that time to go to the grocery store instead?
"The way I look at it," he said, "If I drop my kids off and they have a good time, they will tell me a if they had fun or not. They will report back to me. They should have a say in who they are developing friendships with."