How Not To Organise A Play Date


DD1 is in Year 6, so I’m no stranger to play dates. I’ve been organising and agreeing to them for almost 7 years now. But yesterday I made the most basic mistake of all when I allowed my eldest girl to go to a friend’s house after school.

DD is off to secondary school in September, with a handful of girls from her school. She’s going to have an hour’s commute there and back every day so I’m keen for her to get to know some of the other girls who she will be travelling with, a little better. When she asked if she could go to someone’s house a couple of weeks ago, I said yes, sure. She was supposed to go last week, but the mum was unwell, so it was put off until yesterday.

Of course by yesterday, I had totally forgotten about the arrangement, so the first I knew was when DD1 ran up to me after school, dumped her school bag in my direction, and said ‘I’m going to R’s, remember?’

I had the other three blethering on at me at the same time, but I shushed them for a moment and focused on DD1 and her friend.

‘Where’s your mum?’, I asked the friend. Apparently she was walking up to the school and usually met her daughter half way. Fair enough, they have almost finished year 6 now; I was okay with that.

DD didn’t have her mobile with her so I told her that when she got back to her friend’s house, she needed to ring our home phone, and give me their address and phone number. DD promised she would, and off they went.

At the time I didn’t even think about how little I knew about where she was going. I had no address, no contact details, didn’t know the girls last name- I didn’t even know if DD was staying for dinner. This was going to prove a very stupid mistake.

When I got the others home, I sat and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t until about 1/4 past 4. Then it wasn’t DD , but a friend wanting  a chat. When I got off the phone it was 1/4 to 5 and I still hadn’t heard anything. I was getting a bit cross.

I made dinner for the other kids, and the phone still didn’t ring. By 6pm I was getting anxious. I knew she would be safe, but it wasn’t fun not knowing where my firstborn was.  Eventually, around 20 past 6, DH turned up. I ‘fessed up and told him I’d lost one of our children.

Immediately he checked the phone messages. Why didn’t I think of that? There was one from DD at 22 past 4; she must have rung while I was on the phone to my friend.

However, the message wasn’t helpful. It simply said ‘ Hi Mum. If I stay here for dinner, it won’t be ready until 7pm. If you want me home earlier, can you come and pick me up? Ring me and let me know.’

See, no phone number and no address. Not helpful. We are with Virgin and they don’t save the number called from if it goes straight to voice mail. So I really had no idea of how to contact the mother, who I imagined must be thinking I was very rude.

I did some facebooking on our school’s page to see if I could identify the family, but it turned out I was barking up the wrong tree. In the end I rang a friend who is one of the school governors. Coincidentally she had a Governors meeting that night and was able to tell the head teacher what had happened. He kindly rang the other mum, explained the situation and DD1 was delivered to my doorstep within 10 minutes.

The other mum was very polite about the whole situation, especially when she asked if I hadn’t got the contact details written down by her that she had given to DD for me.  Of course DD swore blind that she had given the post it to me, whereas I am certain I’ve never seen it before but we managed not to have a full on argument about it in front of her friends…

I said Thank You several times, apologised profusely and took her contact details ‘for next time’. That sounds promising , doesn’t it?

So I had a ‘little talk’ with DD1 about the importance of supplying ALL the information asked for, to which she said she assumed that the phone would be able tell me the number she dialed from. Kids today, eh? We wouldn’t have conceived of such a thing back when I was a kid!

And I now have a check list for play dates that starts with ‘Don’t  let them go ANYWHERE if I don’t have contact details’.

It’s only common sense isn’t it?

check list




6 comments on “How Not To Organise A Play Date

  1. Things like that are so easily done since none of us, as parents, are perfect.

    Fortunately for me, my children are still at an age where, if they are going on play dates, I usually have to drop them off or pick them up and I know where the child lives.

    Thanks for sharing your experience though. It’ll make me think more carefully when my own children get to that age 🙂

    • Yes, it’s much easier when the kids are younger. I’m wondering how I’m going to deal with this issue when DD1 gets to secondary school!

  2. We live in a very small town where everyone is within walking distance. At the start of each year we get a class list with home phone numbers and home adresses! Brilliant. And by now we know everyone in the class but then again, it’s a small school. As much as I miss big city living, I have to say that this makes life so much easier. Max bikes to his friends now, they come here, go back etc… and here playdates are never with dinner. Always amazes me about the UK. Playdates here are just a few hours after school and then home for dinner. I’d have been panicking in your case… eek!

    • Our school is big- a three form entry and I don’t think this girl is in her class.
      We definitely wouldn’t be given phone numbers and addresses!
      I wasn’t too bad, as I knew she was safe. I just didn’t know WHERE she was safe!

  3. My daughters at that age now nearly 11 where she wants to be out and about herself….I am terrified when she’s out with her friends even when I know where she is…Glad everything ended ok!!

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