Playdates: Navigating Them Without Being Embarrassed By Your Small Space

The kids in playdate mode… wall bunks away and toys out. Felt Boards by  Collage Collage , Car Mat from H+M

The kids in playdate mode… wall bunks away and toys out. Felt Boards by Collage Collage, Car Mat from H+M

Recently the subject of playdates, new friends and new schools came up, in particular about how to deal with nervousness over introducing your small space to new friends or strangers. I’ve been there! And as Theo has recently entered Kindergarten and is making new friends everyday, I know the topic of playdates is going to come up shortly. And I’ve experienced this in the past with preschool friends where I hardly know the parents and having them over can feel intimidating. I don’t know if they live in a 3 storey single family home in the neighborhood or in a tiny apartment like us.

Even though I share here on the blog about our small space it doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of shyness about our living situation. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I was jealous (at times) of some of my friend’s beautiful modern homes. But here’s what I do when jealousy tries to stop me from feeling good about myself or my life choices. I remember that living small is a choice for us. It may not always feel that way but it is! We could choose to move to another city or town where mortgages and rents are cheaper. We choose to stay here. We love our home and it is filled with love (and some pretty things too!).

And if someone is going to judge us for our small space without trying to understand us or why we choose it then they aren’t people I want in my life. So judge away! Now if they judge me because my snacks aren’t always the best, then that is totally fair. I do need to up my snack game for playdates!!

Here are a few tactics and thoughts I have used in the past to overcome nervousness at having new kids over for playdates…

1) Be Honest - Often if a new kid or parent are coming over, I give them a heads up about our space. Something along the lines of, our space is really small but there’s still toys and fun stuff for the kids to do. It will be cozy but we’d love to have you over.

2) Remember Kids Don’t Care - kids don’t care how big your space is. I have had a couple of kids innocently mention that our house is small but I just say, sure is! Check out the bunk beds!

3) Let Them Play - I set up a few areas of play around the house. I put out a road map rug and cars, set up the play tent with pillows and stuffies inside or line up dinosaurs in a certain spot. Sometimes (depending on the crowd) I set up a drawing station or a simple (easy to clean up) craft at the kitchen table.

4) Accept the Chaos - In a larger house it may be possible to accomplish other things during a playdate with small children but not in 600 square feet. So I find it better to embrace the madness and don’t expect to get anything off my list.

5) Lego - Lego is always a good idea. It seems to instantly calm my kids and rarely involves fighting.

6) Clean up - It seems like a simple concept but I am most happy and calm in my home when it is clean and uncluttered. If my home is the best it can be, then I am a better host. I can’t make my space bigger, or fancier but I can make it clean, calm and inviting for guests (and myself).

7) Brunch - if it’s a playdate with the kid’s parents, we have picked up bagels and cream cheese at the bagel shop across the street. It’s easy and doesn’t involve more cooking and cleaning and who doesn’t love bagels?

8) Meet Outside - Or forget the whole thing and meet up outside. If the weather is good we can meet at a park or the beach. If the weather is bad, Science World is a go-to. I am always on the hunt for other neutral meet-up spots to host a playdate that are not my house (it’s not easy! our city needs more options!).