Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Grown-up Play Dates

Why don’t grown-ups have play dates? My daughter is having one right now. They chat and giggle, in matching princess costumes, moving seamlessly from one activity to another. I miss that kind of hanging out time with friends.

Adult gatherings are different. We have a destination, a babysitter, an agenda. We exchange pleasantries or drop some quick bomb about what’s new in our life. “Oh, I’m fine. My husband has been in Uganda for the past month so things are a big tough.” Then we’re off to the next activity. But as we go our separate ways, toddlers in tow, I want to yell “hey, bring back your minivan. I don’t want to go home yet. Ask your mom if you can stay longer.”

Every person I talk to about this issue agrees, but nothing changes. “I know, I know” they say, “I really should go out more, or have people over more, but…”

Something is wrong here. We all believe that friendships are more important than those activities and errands. We know this. We moan about this. We just can’t apply it.

My mom and I see each other at least four times/week but sometimes notice that logistics -put her down by 2:00, don’t forget to pick up chicken for dinner, don’t forget to call your brother and wish him happy birthday-take the place of actual conversation.

So periodically we make a play date. We bond. And boy, do we appreciate it. Not a play date goes by that we don’t mutually boast, wow, we got in a whole cup of tea and actually talked about things outside of the family calendar. That was great. Catch ya’ next month. Oh, and I forgot to ask, are you busy next Wednesday or can you pick up….

With busy lives, even a short respite can be fulfilling. Women know this. Give us thirty uninterrupted minutes on a treadmill and we’ll have the entire life story of the person next to us. That almost counts as a play date. Maybe that’s the trick; forget about the luxurious afternoon to relax with a friend and reconnect, aim for a good, rejuvenating half hour. Give it a try this week. Grown-ups don’t even need matching princess costumes.

—Debbie

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