Updated: Aug 3, 2021
"Sorry, the house is a mess."
"Maybe next week we can get the kids together."
"I'd love to have the kids over to play, but I have to clean the house."
Sound familiar? The embarrassment of a messy home can stop people from having playdates, and everyone suffers from this. The kids don't get their social time and the parents don't get their much-needed adult time. Why not tackle several issues in one go?
Once I bring up the issue of cleaning during a play date, more and more moms love the idea. I'm not talking scrubbing floors and bathrooms while your kids play. I'm talking about getting a hold of those messes that are strictly made by having kids. I've helped organize kid spaces with other mothers who didn’t know where to begin.
This is nothing to be embarrassed about. We're all overwhelmed at times and cleaning toys isn't high on the list of things we want to do at the end of the day. But with an understanding friend by your side, it can seem less daunting.
While the kids play in the next room, you can have your adult time while getting things in order. You don't even need that much time! So, for those "the house is a mess" and "I have no time" people, this is the perfect solution.
You can still catch up and talk while being productive. It takes that added pressure off when you don't have to worry about the kids for a while. When they are out of the way (there is no nice way to say this), it's a lot easier to organize their messes. You won't have to contend with, "I was just playing with that!" or having them dump everything out that you just put away.
There are important conversations that parents aren't having; that being about the state of our homes and minds. It’s okay not to have everything in order. It’s actually expected. We are tired, we aren't motivated some days, our houses are a mess.
But what if, instead of staying quiet, we spoke up and helped each other out? How great would it be, if the next time your children had a playdate, you finally got to tackle that closet or that box of toys that has been sitting in your living room for months (years, let's be honest)?
Can we start normalizing the ugly and unruly parts of parenthood? I love seeing the relief on another mom's face, when I don't bat an eye at the mountain of toys on her kitchen table, but instead offer to help her clear it off.
We bond over the absurdity of how having children has changed us (and destroyed our once-neat homes). We laugh that it has taken us weeks to move that game piece off the top of the toilet, or how we no longer notice that creepy doll that has become a fixture on the couch.
The fact is, we can become better parents just by letting some of that stress go. We can begin to reach out to our friends, not just for emotional support but for productivity as well. Just be sure to take turns at each other’s homes, or you will become that one friend that becomes known as "the cleaner" (guilty as charged).
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What are your thoughts about cleaning playdates?
Do you think you would give this a try?