First Date Jitters, Mommy Style


I was never really any good at dating. First dates stressed me out immensely. I never really knew what to wear, whether to have him pick me up or meet somewhere, what subjects to talk about, or which ones to avoid. And, to top it all off, there was always an awkward wallet grab at the end when the check came. Frankly, after I started dating (then marrying) my husband, I was pretty excited to never go on another first date again.

But, then kids happened, and I was thrust into a whole new world of dating–the play date. The first-time play date can be just as awkwardly intimidating as any first date (and, sometimes worse). What do you wear (your yoga-inspired mom uniform or your go-to stylish mom-uniform)? What subjects are okay to talk about, and which ones should you avoid? What should you bring? What should you definitely NOT bring? What if your child(ren) decide to recreate a melt down comparable to Chernobyl?

After some very good play dates (that have turned into great friendships) and some very bad ones (that have left me internally begging to just be watching another episode of Dora at home), I’ve come up with some general guidelines to first play dates:

Where to Meet.

Usually on a first play date, you don’t know her well enough to know what her exact financial situation looks like. So, it’s a fairly good idea to meet somewhere that is easy on the pocketbook. Luckily, in Fort Worth and the surrounding areas, there are tons of free and cheap places to visit!

Length of Play Dates.

The two-hour play date scheduled around nap time seems to bring the least amount of tantrums or breakdowns.


If other people are invited, let everyone know. Generally, no one minds the presence of another mommy/child duo. But, it is nice for it not to be a surprise, especially if you are meeting up with an introvert who has already had to psych herself up for the outing.


Until very recently, I didn’t realize how much more smoothly play dates ran if snacks were discussed beforehand. It avoids anyone being the mommy who feels guilty that she left the snacks at home (I’ve been there on more than one occasion), and it also avoids you bringing something that a child with a food allergy could get her hands on (since toddlers frequently share, or swipe, each other’s food).

Cell Phones.

Obviously you can’t completely check your cell phone at the front door. But, you also don’t want to be on your cell phone the entire time. Non-emergency calls and texts can wait. Facebook and Instagram can wait. Building relationships is already hard enough when sentences are consistently interrupted by the need to remind toddlers that dirt isn’t for eating and toys aren’t for hitting.

Topics to Avoid.

Some people might want to avoid talking about personal subjects, while others might want to put it all out in the open. And, honestly, neither method really annoys me, as long as social cues are followed and respect is given by each party. But, there is one topic that should never, ever come up on a first play date (or, really, any subsequent play date): perceived “flaws” in another mommy’s child. Please don’t put someone else’s child down.


Kids are cute, and it is so hard not to want to catch every single moment of their cute lives on camera. However, unless you know the other mommy well (which is not the norm for a first-time play date), you can’t really gauge how she feels about having her child’s picture taken or her stance on posting those pictures to social media. You can always ask her policy on picture taking and posting, but I’ve found that it just works better to avoid pictures for the first play-date.

Making Plans for the Next Play Date.

Congratulations! This means that the first play date was a success, and that you might be headed toward sweet, sweet mommy friendship. Luckily, there is no awkward three-day rule to follow. In fact, it’s better to go ahead and make plans; many a friendships are never born because of the phrase, “We should totally get together again sometime!” was not uttered.

The most important rule of thumb is this: When in doubt, just compliment my child. It all comes down to our children anyways, doesn’t it?

Rachel loves a good fairytale, so it’s no surprise that, after moving to Fort Worth from Washington, D.C., she kissed a frog and fell in love. She is the mother of two perfect children—Lillian, an adventurous toddler, and Lucas, a handsome cuddle-bug who is speeding through infant-hood too fast. She loves pearls, books, coffee, talking about books over coffee, writing, listening to others’ life stories, and spending time with her family. When she is not busy practicing law or changing diapers, you will find her exploring the amazing culinary and cultural delights that Fort Worth has to offer or blogging at Honeycomb and Pearls.



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