Dear Father-Hood: Nursery playdates – is a dad asking a mum a bit weird or completely normal?

There comes a time in almost every parent’s life, when they have to quit moaning about never seeing their old mates, and start making a real effort to find a support network of new friends. For early adopters of this mindset, antenatal groups like the National Childcare Trust (NCT) provide a ready-made group of soon-to-be parents to buddy up with. For later adopters, nursery playdates are the perfect opportunity to find the parents and children who you and your kid(s) are going to spend a significant proportion of the rest of your life with (no pressure).

Although my wife and I met a number of nice couples at NCT, we don’t see any of them very often. As a result of this, we are still on the hunt for acquaintances. And a result of this, we’re attempting to infiltrate the nursery playdate circuit.

The problem

The good news is it’s going okay so far – we have a second (play)date with a couple and their daughter this Sunday – but the bad news is I feel like it would be going even better if I was doing less of the drop offs and pick ups (my wife works in town and I work from home).

Is this because my wife is more smiley and social than me? No, it’s because, like the vast majority of parents who I see dropping my son’s classmates off at nursery, she is a woman.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa – am I saying that nursery mums have something against nursery dads? No, I’m not. I’m simply saying that the reaction (or lack of reaction) I have been getting from the nursery mums when I say “hello”, introduce myself or hold the gate open leads me to believe that they would find the idea of me asking them for a playdate a little bit weird, and thus would be less likely to say “yes” than they would be if my wife popped the question.

Ask the internet

My wife was inclined to agree, so I did what all self-respecting modern parent would do in this scenario – i.e. I typed “Is it weird for a dad to ask a mum on a playdate?” into my go-to search engine. The results were something of a mixed bag. I found a good piece on Fatherly, an interesting thread on Mumsnet and a somewhat sinister article from the Daily Mail titled “Beware the playdate predator: Relationship special” (note: I’ve intentionally not linked to it, because, well, you know).

And so I did what all self-respecting modern parent would do in this scenario –  i.e. I ran a Twitter poll that queried whether a nursery dad asking a nursery mum for a playdate was a) totally normal or b) a little bit weird?

The Twitter verdict

The poll received 76 votes, with a whopping 83% of respondents believing that a nursery dad asking a nursery mum for a playdate is totally normal. Better still, there were comments from dads who had been there and done the asking.

“It is totally normal, we’re all parents and I’ve done it before,” replied the UK’s No.2 dad blogger, The DADventurer. “I can see why some would class it as weird. But as a sahd {stay at home dad}, I need to do what I do for my daughter. If I hid away or didn’t speak to mums as I’m ‘different’, then she’d miss out.”

“Well, there’s what it should be and what it can be,” commented John Adams of the award-winning Dad Blog UK. “Some mums are totally fine with it and would think it weird not to ask. Others seem to consider it bizarre beyond belief.”

The conclusion

So what does it all mean? It means:

  1. That my wife and I aren’t the first, and won’t be the last, couple to worry about the possibility that a nursery mum might find a nursery dad asking her for a playdate a little bit weird.
  2. That there is actually no reason for us, or any other mums and dads, to fret, as only 13% of people actually believe it would be weird.
  3. That for the good of my son, I need to listen to Twitter, get over myself and start asking the nursery mums if they and their kid want to hang out with me and my kid some time (or, you know, leaving a note on their son or daughter’s clothes peg).

Got all that? Fantastic. Then all that remains to be said is: until next time, ladies and gentleman.

Oh, and, as ever, I’d love to hear what you think about this article. So if you have a comment, question or story to tell please leave it below.



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