Chances are your toddler’s diary is more packed and exciting than yours right now. There’s nothing like a whirl of playdates to help develop his social skills (and get you both out of the house). But the art of the perfect meet-up isn’t just about how he behaves – there’s parent etiquette, too. Here's what's OK… and what's not.
Don't… Wear your favourite outfit
You can't escape mum duties with the kids running around – and you may have to stop your toddler jumping on her bed every half hour. So, as much as you’d love to finally reintroduce your favourite silk top or those white jeans to your wardrobe today, this probably ain’t the time. Image: Corbis
Do… Turn up on time
Chances are your host has plans for later, too, even if it is catching up on Game of Thrones when the kids are in bed. Image: Corbis
Don't… Suggest messy play
When it's not your house, and not to the kids before the other parent. Yes, it’s a brilliant creative outlet, etc, etc, but if your host's cream carpet’s just been cleaned or her toddler has his best outfit on, she may not be as enthusiastic about getting the paint out. Image: Corbis
Don’t… Assume siblings are invited
You wouldn’t bring friends to a birthday dinner without asking if there’s enough food or space, so check first to see if your other kids can come along, too. Image: Corbis
Do… Be discreet
Be careful about having a nursery run rant or a moan about that mum who keeps cancelling catch-ups. The whole six degrees of separation thing magically turns into two degrees when you’re a parent, and you never know who knows who. Image: Corbis
Do… Tell her about his allergies
Forgetting to let your host know about your child’s dairy intolerance? Not good when she unwittingly offers up that chocolate milkshake… Image: Corbis
Don't… Let your child go wild
Just because the house isn’t yours (although we admit, it's tempting). Chances are crayons on the floor and muddy shoes on the sofa are a no-no here, too. Image: Corbis
Do… Keep a change of clothes in the car
For baby, that is. Handy in case there’s a juice or toilet incident. Image: Corbis
Don't… Make things awks
You might not usually have TV time but if your host wants to round the playdate up with half an hour of CBeebies, then bite your tongue and go with it. No one likes an weird erm-that’s-not-how-we-do-things moment. Image: Corbis
Do… Help tidy up
Your kid’s been party to the whole whirlwind look the living has right now – so you can’t just breeze out the door without at least offering to help clear up (Well, you could – but you might not get another invite!) Image: Corbis
Do… Take it outside
If she has a garden (and the weather’s OK…), get your toddlers running around outdoors, perhaps with water, ball games or a tea party. Image: Corbis
Don’t… Compare too much
OK, so she bakes a cake and buys organic tea every time (and you don't!), but this isn’t how everyone sees playdates – some mums will go for games over food, while others will keep everything really relaxed. Image: Corbis
Don’t… Get an inferiority complex
On the same note, kids are a great leveller. So, while your host’s house may be dripping in Orla Keily and Heal’s, remember, she too has been covered in puree and wiped nappy explosions off the wall.
Don't… Overstay your welcome
The mum has asked if you’d like to stay for tea, but does she really want you to after five hours in the garden? Hmm, tricky – but perhaps a case of thinking what you’d want at that stage. Gauge the body language and adapt. Image: Corbis
Do… Think outside the (location) box
Take the pressure off and go somewhere neutral like the nearest park or soft play centre. You can both pitch in with food and there’s less clearing up. Image: Corbis
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