As my twins enter toddlerhood, I am discovering the importance of “play-dating”. Much like regular dating, it can be awkward at first, but if the match is right it could last a lifetime.
One benefit of twins is that I can be lazy and tell myself they have all the social interaction they need with one another. But to avoid fostering a duopoly, I also participate in mummy match-making.
Recent experience has taught me there are several unspoken rules to play-dating which prompted me to put together the following guide for other First Time Mums (or FTMs).
1. The search. Finding a play-mate can be daunting if you’re fresh to the scene. Be open to meeting someone in unexpected places including the supermarket checkout, while waiting for takeaway coffee or in elevators. After all, I did marry the guy I chatted up at a bar 6 years ago… no one predicted that would lead to marriage and two kids!
2. The intention. Finding a suitable partner involves selecting someone with similar intentions. Are you looking for a one night stand or a marriage? Find a mum looking for equal commitment to play-dating to avoid a one-sided relationship.
3. Physical suitability. Age is an appropriate starting point, but don’t forget height, weight* and energy levels. If you put David and Goliath together it will probably end in tears (mostly for David). *I’m referring to the kids in case you’re confused.
4. Complementary beliefs. Strong relationships are built on shared views. Finding another mum with a compatible parenting philosophy is equally important. The last thing you want is an argument about the merits of co-sleeping with 4 year olds.
5. The chemistry. Despite our very best intentions, it all comes down to the kids’ chemistry. Don’t force an arranged marriage – if the kids don’t get along, suck it up and find another friend. Save the argument for which vegetables they will eat for dinner instead like I do most nights with broccoli.
Play-dating is an important part of socialisation for kids, but also for mums. Singing “the wheels on the bus go round and round…” on repeat for 12 hours is a form of torture. Finding play-mates can literally save your brain from turning to mummy mush. Plus, who else can you talk to about sleep regression, wonder weeks, teething and nappy rash while enjoying a glass of bubbles on a Friday afternoon!