Would You Make a Playdate With a Stranger?
New parents explain why they're open to using online tools to organize get-togethers with parents and children they don't know
You’ve never met him or her before. The only things you know you have in common are that you have kids and you live in the same neighborhood or city. Is that enough to warrant a playdate with a stranger?
For many parents across the country, the answer is yes.
Check out message boards on various online forums targeting moms and dads. There you’ll find parents announcing to whoever’s reading that they’re on the hunt for fellow parents interested in meet-ups.
“I would… love getting some moms together. I don’t have ANY friends with children,” reads a note on a forum for Oklahoma City parents.
The idea of meeting up with a stranger doesn’t seem so, well, strange when that person is a fellow parent, says Lauren Schneider, a New York City mom with a 2-year-old son. Schneider said she moved to New York when she was still pregnant and immediately began searching online for parent support groups.
“As a new mom, you always want to meet up with other new moms out there,” she said. “I was definitely in the market to meet strangers.”
Parents of young kids, in particular, say that finding playmates for their children without online help can be a challenge. New parents may find that their existing social circles don’t include fellow parents or, if they do, the children are far apart enough in age to make get-togethers less than ideal.
“My 9-month-old isn’t going to play with my friend’s 2-year-old,” said Adrienne Eisenstein, 33, also of New York. “It’s beneficial to meet moms who are going through the same thing so your kids can have friends.”
Schneider and Eisenstein’s online tool of choice is Kidsy, a user-friendly “kids activity hub” which tested a “public playdate” option earlier this year to help parents organize get-togethers at kids’ events with those they don’t know. The site plans on reintroducing the public playdate feature in the near future.
Kidsy co-founder Michael Tai said that he’s heard from first-time parents about how hard it can be to meet fellow moms and dads they can relate to. “We were trying to take an offline problem and create an online solution for it,” he said.
There are limits to how far some are willing to go to connect with strangers.
Schneider said that she wouldn’t want to have a playdate at the home of someone she’d never met before. But getting to know them at an event at The Children’s Museum of Manhattan or at Central Park is a different story.
“If I met you out at the park, I wouldn’t consider you a stranger—I’d consider you another new mom,” she said. And, perhaps, another new friend.
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