How to Play Safe: What Are the Questions to Ask Before a Drop Off Playdate?


You really level up as a parent when you hit the drop off playdate stage. 

My kids are five and seven and we are just entering that golden domain. A few hours alone in my house that ends with picking up very happy and tired kids? Yes, please! It’s almost like when us eighties kids used to “go outside to play.” Just now it’s with more supervision and less getting kidnapped by drivers of windowless vans. But before hightailing it out of there while your kid runs screaming through someone else’s house for a while, can we normalize talking about safety with other families? Do you even know what questions to ask before a drop off playdate?

A woman relaxing on the couch with her arms behind her head. What questions to ask before a drop off playdate?
Straight chilling while my kids destroy…I mean, play at someone else’s house for awhile

Before you race away to enjoy these amazing moments of newfound freedom, what are the questions to ask before a drop off playdate?

As much as I love avoiding the awkward small talk that comes with pretending to be friends with the parents of your child’s new best friend, I think it is a rite of passage to host and attend playdates. Or meet up in a playground or children’s center or library craft time.

You are required by law to make these “fun” get-togethers happen even if they are your worst nightmare.

And trust me, they are a nightmare sometimes. Especially if having to make small talk with virtual strangers while being interrupted fifty million times by screaming kids isn’t your jam. (News flash, it’s no one’s jam.) 

Then there are the unicorn friends’ playdates. Those unicorn families are ones where you really do like the parents and your kids really like the kids. If you find these magical unicorn families, you have reached Nirvana, my friend. Enjoy it! With those families, talking about drop-off playdates is pretty easy because we’ve spent roughly eight million hours together and have spilled all the tea. Our parenting stars are aligned. 

Without these awkward foundational playdates or knowing the family well, how do you know if a drop off playdate is for you? 

A triangular safety sign with a white background and red border. Inside it has a drawing of a child kicking a ball and a child jumping rope. What are the questions to ask before a drop off playdate?
Looks like the sign of a safe play date

A list of questions to ask before a drop off playdate can be helpful. Without them, drop-off playdates feel like I’m dropping my kids into a vat of spiders. It could be a mostly fuzzy and soft landing, or they could get bitten by something poisonous. So, let’s normalize talking about safety without making it weird. Or go ahead, make it weird. 

If you don’t know where to start when thinking about what questions to ask before a drop off playdate, here are some handy, dandy questions to consider:

1. Do you have guns in your home and are they locked up? 

This is the number one question to ask. It is estimated that nearly 1,300 children die each year from gunshot wounds. We can’t let our nervousness around offending someone get in the way of a potentially deadly accident. Ask if they have guns and if they are locked away safely. I also make sure that my kids know about gun safety because I don’t want them to get caught by surprise in a potentially unsafe situation.

2. Who are the adults (and older children/teenagers) that will be in your home during the playdate? Alternately: What is your level of supervision during a playdate? 

You might be super friendly with the mom and dad of this family and feel totally safe with them.

But what about Uncle Ron who is crashing on their couch? Or the teenage brother’s friend who’s always hanging around? Maybe it’s overprotective to want to know who is around my kids, but I’m okay with being overprotective if it keeps them safer. 

I also want to know if the parents will actually be at home the whole time.

I don’t need them to be glued to my kids’ side, but at least keep them out of traffic. And maybe don’t leave them alone with Uncle Ron while he’s watching Night Of The Living Dead. I’ve heard some pretty wild stories of parents stepping out during a playdate and leaving a teenage sibling in charge. And guess what? Total chaos ensued. Who would’ve thought that leaving a bunch of random kids with a teenager alone might end up with something not as cool as the Goonies adventure? 

3. Are prescription drugs and medications stored out of reach? 

Look, I don’t need to know all your business or what meds you take. All I need to know is that your fun-colored purple cough medicine isn’t sitting on the bathroom counter where my curious daughter might want to take a sip. Or your THC Gummies aren’t looking oh-so-delicious on the counter next to the cookie jar.

Since my kids will be going to the bathroom alone, where most meds are stored, it’s good to know that there isn’t anything dicey left in reach. I teach my kids not to do that, but hey, I also teach them how to throw out their cheese stick wrappers and they still don’t seem to make it in the garbage can so what do I know? My kids have also licked public bathroom door handles so they seem to be ready and willing to ingest all sorts of gross stuff.

Having questions to ask before a drop-off playdate makes me feel both nervous and prepared. Like an anxious Girl Scout. Which pretty much sums up a good chunk of my parenting personality. 

I do so much to keep my kids safe at home, and I want to normalize making them safe in other homes too. I mean, isn’t it even weirder to think parents wouldn’t care about their kids’ safety out in the world?! Especially this world. Sheesh. If we all ask these kinds of questions before dropping our kids off, maybe there would be less side-eye and more side-arm hugs in parenting solidarity. Let’s normalize these questions to ask before a drop off playdate. 

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How to Play Safe: What Are the Questions to Ask Before a Drop Off Playdate?

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