As your kids get older and you get involved in more activities, you’re sure to meet lots of new people and tons of families with all types of values. It’s my experience that not all of the children who your kids befriend are from a family who has adopted a natural lifestyle. While this can pose challenges, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for the friendships. I like to think of it like politics or religion—all of your friends may not have the same political views or religious convictions as you do, but you are still friends. It’s important to find ways to respect one another’s choices (even if you do not agree with them). If you find you cannot respect someone’s choices or they cannot respect yours, then it may be time to cut your losses.
When setting up play dates, it can be tricky—especially if your “date” doesn’t eat the types of food you would like your children to eat. If you’ve been invited to someone’s home who probably has cabinets full of junk food packed full of refined sugar, then why not do the proper thing as a guest and bring snacks? If you aren’t sure what to bring, ask the mom whose house you’re going to. I like to ask what her children like by offering a few suggestions. Asking this as an open-ended question is not a good idea, because then you’ve just lost control of snack time.
If the play date is at your house, then you have a whole other issue to consider—what if the visiting mom brings something you don’t want your kids to have. Most moms will ask before bringing a snack because of the potential for allergies, but if a mom brings a food that you prefer your child not eat, make sure you are both tactful and thoughtful in your response. Look at what the food is, and consider if it’s something you could let slide this one time. You could also put out two snacks when it’s time for the kids to graze explaining that you picked something up, too. No one ever questions a choice of snacks.
Snack time is not the only worry. My biggest thing with play dates is getting the kids outside. There’s nothing worse than having a beautiful day outside and the kids being corralled in the house. Whenever we have friends over to play, I try to keep everyone outside. The fresh air is great for them, and as an added bonus, your house doesn’t get destroyed. At your own home, this is an easy thing to control. If you’re going to someone else’s home, this is a pretty easy thing to do too. I simply suggest we go outside so it will be easier for the other mom for all the reasons I prefer to be outside. I also throw in that my son sleeps far better at night when he’s had lots of fresh air.
Playing with other kids and other families does not have to be a source of stress. It should be a fun time for your kids to get some exercise and for moms to get some much-needed adult stimulation. While talking with the other mom, use the opportunity to explain why you’ve chosen to adopt a natural lifestyle and what kind of benefits your family has seen. Make sure you don’t sound like you’re trying to force something on her, but rather entice her with how much your own crew has benefited. You may just convert another family to a more natural lifestyle.