The days of having your kid’s school friends over during the summer holiday’s for beans on toast and a kick around in the garden is officially a thing of the past, according to a new study.
Researchers polled the nation’s mums and dads and discovered “playdates” have become a competitive sport with parents now expected to shell out for meals out, cinema tickets, theme parks, takeaways and expensive arts and crafts materials – all to keep SOMEONE ELSE’S children entertained.
Entertaining friends’ kids has become a competitive and expensive sport for parents[/caption]
So, it comes as no surprise the cost takes its toll, especially for the one in ten who host play dates every weekend, shelling out a staggering £2,000 over the course of a year.
And according to the research by Bella Italia, nearly a third (31 per cent) of British mums, admit they fork out the cash to impress other parents, worrying they will be judged for the quality of their playdate.
A third spend hours cleaning before children arrive, worrying other parents will judge the cleanliness of their home, while 18 per cent take the children out for food in case they have any allergies, and 16 per cent fork out on restaurant meals, in case it is reported back to parents that their cooking is terrible.
21 per cent fear the children will tell their parents the playdate was boring and the same number worry parents will think the house is too small.
The nationwide study revealed that overall, 85 per cent of British mums and dads agree that playdates have become far too competitive.
In fact, 84 perc ent say that having other people’s children round to their own house is too stressful, with nearly a quarter (24 per cent) claiming that they feel more pressure to impress than they would if they were at a job interview, while a quarter (24 per cent) say it is as taxing as doing a work presentation.
Whatever the state of their home pre-playdate, 43 per cent of parents are genuinely fearful that the children will destroy the house during the session.
Four in ten (41 per cent) admit to feeling anxious about the kids running riot, while more than a third (35 per cent) feel challenged when their kids’ friends are fussy eaters or have allergies (18 per cent).
The study found that over a quarter (27 per cent) of mums and dads have felt bad because the other parents have a bigger house, 23 per cent said they felt low because their kid came back saying they’d had the best time ever, and 17 per cent had felt gutted when their child had claimed their friend’s mum is a fantastic cook.
More than half (55 per cent) of the 2,000 parents polled admitted that they host strategic events with popular kids in the class, to boost their own offspring’s appeal.
So stressful is the modern playdate that two thirds of parents have lied to get out of hosting one, while 33 per cent admit that they’ve actually fallen out with a parent because of unequal hosting.
And with the long days of the looming summer holiday to fill, it’s no surprise that 82 per cent of parents reckon there’s even more pressure to organise activities around this time of year.
Marc Saunders, Head of Brand from Bella Italia said: “This research shows how parents are keen to find more options for playdates. Our kids’ menu is perfect for those times when you just want to outsource everything and give your kids and their friends a budget friendly treat that take the stress away, especially with our family hour offering where you can eat delicious food and play games”
No surprise then that 59 per cent of parents admit that they’ve spent more than they wanted, in order to make a good impression with other parents.
When it’s all over, the most common way exhausted parents will celebrate is with a quiet night in (34 per cent), 28 per cent will watch their favourite TV show and 27 per cent will pop open a bottle of wine with their partner.
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As many as 30 per cent of British families have their children’s friends over every month and a fifth (19 per cent) open their house every fortnight.
Regionally Cardiff is the playdate capital of the UK, where 23 per cent of parents have at least one a week, compared to Belfast where only one in fifty families invite kids round once a week or more.
Unsurprisingly London parents are the big spenders on playdates at £46, a full £13 more than parents in Glasgow (£33).
1. The children will mess up the house (43%)
2. The children will run riot (41%)
3. The friends will be fussy eaters (35%)
4. The parents will judge my house for being messy (31%)
5. The parents will judge me for my entertaining skills (or lack of) (24%)
6. The children will ask for a sleepover (22%)
7. The friends will tell their parents it was boring (21%)
8. The parents will judge my house for being small (21%)
9. The friends will have allergies (18%)
10. The friends will tell their parents my cooking was terrible (16%)
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