Baby playdates suck the joy out of parenting. So why do we keep on having them?

If there’s one thing that makes Millennials shy away from procreating, it’s the unpleasant social aspect of it. It’s the moment when you realise that a once interesting arty, wine-sipping persona has morphed into a sleep deprived mommy whose only adult interaction is baby playdates.

Baby playdates are the perfect example to why parenting today is stressful, boring, and feels like a never-ending chore. Like round the clock breastfeeding or early mental stimulation to guarantee a place at an Ivy League university, their purpose is to offer babies “socialisation” so they don’t grow into loony loner losers that resent society.

It’s not that playdates do not have a social purpose, since often parents depend on them to get some adult interaction. But it’s the fact that we have turned into a generation of neurotic control freaks that need to map out our baby’s whole life in order to feel like good-enough parents. We were raised by selfish baby boomers after all, who made us secretly swear never to be that crappy as parents. Somewhere and somehow, in our effort to be better than that we’ve lost the sense of balance.

Now we regularly drag along our month-old crying babies and screaming, tantrum-ridden toddlers to coffee shops, shopping malls, or, worse, to other people’s houses (God forbid if you haven’t read the e-mail with their playdate rules) and pretend that we’re getting some quality time when in reality we get two hours of high stress where we have to play traffic cop to our babies’ reluctance to share toys or play together. Interacting with another adult is like trying to deliver a banquet speech on a rocking boat that’s about to sink underwater any moment. Of course not all babies have meltdowns every time they’re out with a parent. But even if you manage to have an uninterrupted conversation, expect to mainly talk about sleep routines, bowel movements and developmental milestones.

Let’s face it, babies under three years old need mom and dad’s love above everything else. There’s no real benefit in peer socialisation at this young age. They learn from everything we say and do, even the smallest and most ordinary things. If, however you notice that your baby needs more social interaction, take her to a busy playground and let her look for it. And when YOU need socialisation, take time off the baby, and enjoy some quality adult time.

Finally, let me just add, there’s plenty of time ahead for encouraging your child’s social skills, and plenty of opportunity to help them grow into happy and outgoing individuals. For the time being, take a deep breath and take it easy. 

Photo credit: Creative Commons

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