So It’s been 14 years since I’ve been single and yet here I am in my early 30’s dating again, who would have guessed? Since right before my daughter started Kindergarten,I’ve entered the new phase in both our lives known as Play-dating. It can be just as tricky navigating the playdating world as was when you were trying to find your mate. Sometimes you’ll meet a family where you love the parents, but the kids don’t get along or the kids are thick aS theives but you find yourself watching the clock because you have nothing in common with the parents. But one day the stars align and you meet the perfect playdate family. This happened to me on Hannah’s first day of Kindergarten when I inadvertently met our family’s playdate match in heaven while interviewing a woman for an article for Hudson Valley Parent at Hannah’s Kindergarten open house.

Besides our kids being the same age, in the same class, living just around the corner from us and having sons roughly the same age, my husband and I really get along with the parents as well. So being the Discount Diva I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t identify the top seven ways playdating saves you money.

1. Your House or Mine? Either answer means that you can skip the trip to Jumpin Jakes or Chuck E. Cheese or the plethora of other kiddie entertainment venues that are ripe with sick kids. So you save money by not going out and the money you would have spent on cold medicine and doctor’s visits.

2. Less Travel means less gas. Hopefully your child is friends with someone who lives fairly close by. If your super lucky like me, they might even live within walking distance eliminating both the money needed for gas and the need to strap your kids into the car.

3. Snacks are cheap or free. You can save a ton of money both on hosting or attending playdates. You can buy cheap snacks at Aldi or your choice of grocery store or you can get out your cookbook and enlist your little chefs to help you whip up a yummy treat for your guests for very little money. You can bring snacks to your playdates or just reciprocate by hosting next time.

4. New toys!!!
Often my kids just aren’t interested in playing with their toys, but invite some friends over and it’s like Christmas day all over agin. They take new interest in their toys and while at their friend’s house they get to play with toys they don’t have at home. New toys, games, and activities that’ll keep your kiddo’s busy for hours are usually just a phone call away.

5. Mom-dates. Just as you save money by not having to take the kiddos out for some entertainment, especially on these cold winter days you also don’t have to go out to dinner or shopping to have some great adult entertainment. If you get along with your child’s friend’s parents you can have great adult conversation while the kids are playing and in our case end up getting invited to parties as well.

6. Baby-sitting swaps. If your kids get along really well and if you’ve built up trust in the parents over time you could take it to the next level in your “play-dating” relationship and agree to swap babysitting services, saving both parents money on babysitting and giving each family a parenting night off.

7. Mom-networking – priceless! You never know what great new knowledge, experience or even goodies can be gained when moms get together. You want to know if that latest and greatest toy lives up to the hype, need someone to watch your child in case of a 2-hour delay from school, or don’t want to spend good money on halloween costumes next year – playdates provide great networking opportunities to share. You can swap toys, clothes or shoes. You can carpool to the town pool or playground. You’re only limited by your imagination. And if you’re really lucky maybe a playdate can turn into lifelong friendships between families.

What’s your experience with playdates? Feel free to share.