The Anti-Playdate: Let the Day (and the Kids’ Plans) Unfold


In our over-scheduled lives, it can be daunting for a parent to face a day spread out before you with no plans.  So daunting, in fact, that it rarely happens.  Weekends are filled with errands, organized sports and knocking things off to-do lists.  Breaks from school are packed with museum trips, camps and vacations.  My first reaction to a day with nowhere we need to be is panic: what are we going to DO?  Earlier this week Lisa found herself in that situation.  Her kids had a day off from school due to … not snow, but … wait for it … a manhunt.  What follows is her story of what happens when you simply let the day unfold.  The anti-playdate, if you will.  And it is awesome.



We didn’t have school yesterday and the weather was nice so we planned to spend the afternoon at the park. I was too lazy to cook so we pit stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch. How is this a risky activity? I am glad that you asked.


Thomas ate 32 chicken nuggets.


This beats Elena’s current record of 21 chicken nuggets.

We got a text message from my friend, Heather, inviting us over to play so we rerouted and headed to her home.


Lucky for Benjamin, we had packed the hammock.


Emily was the slack line princess.


Heather’s kids had already built forts.




You know you want to say it … “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

The kids all got to shoot a real Red Ryder BB gun. It was the first time for my kids and they loved it. We wore safety glasses and shot at a milk jug hanging from a tree. I was surprised at how quickly the kids got the hang of it and how accurate they were.


The adults even got to chill in the hammock.

I lost count of how many kids played yesterday.  We brought 3 adults and 6 kids. The neighborhood kids must have received some sort of bat signal because they showed up in bulk.

There were no tears, no fights, no questions about when we were going to leave, no pleas for technology, no snacks and no trips to the ER.  We had a yard full of activities ranging from the pure joy and solitude of hanging in a hammock  to grabbing a Nerf gun or a sword and defending your territory. Kids played on the slack line and gained  balance and confidence.   They shot a BB gun and were remarkably accurate.

None of these activities were particularly risky, although Michelle might disagree – Thomas rode in her car after eating all the chicken. This was good fun just like we did every day when we were kids. But yesterday was special. It was unexpected and the kids played. I mean really played.  I left feeling renewed and proud of all the kids. They made new friends and proved that getting back to the good old outdoors can be fun.


Next time you have a day without plans, round up some friends for an anti-playdate.  No schedule, no set activities, just throw out a few things and let the kids figure out what to do.  Even riskier?  Cancel your plans and free up a day just because you can!