My kids are 6 and 8 years old. My eldest has been in school for 4 years (including preschool), and my youngest has been in school for two years. In these busy years, we have become totally immersed in our community and with the families in our neighborhood. Before the kids were in school, we just had to hope the kids would “find friends” at the playground or other places we visited. I never really knew about or embraced the many parent/playdate groups that Portland has to offer. These groups are such a great idea for kids who aren’t in school, parents who would like to meet other families, and especially for sole caregivers/parents who would like some support and camaraderie. Although some of the groups seem to create friendships between parents, the parents must meet for their kids to meet, so it is a domino effect. Here are some suggestions for parenting groups who also may provide playdate opportunities.
Meetup is a popular website that facilitates get-togethers for all kinds of groups, and playdates are one of them. There is a page specifically for Portland playdates with a large variety of sub-groups such as adventure babies for wander women, young moms of two boys looking for playdates, Portland active moms and their partners, PDX dads group, and so on. To explore further, here is the link: https://www.meetup.com/topics/playgroup/us/or/portland/
I suggest Facebook for two reasons. First, Facebook provides a section on their website for “groups.” When I entered the term “playdates” into the search bar, a few groups came up. One that caught my eye is called “The Wild Ones Adventures-PNW play dates and ideas.” There are 219 members, and you must request to join. The group founder posts YouTube videos of fun places around the Pacific Northwest and then organizes playdates at the chosen spots. Here is a link to the group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/338099127972412.
The second reason I mention Facebook is that “Messenger Kids” is a good way for kiddos to facetime and have virtual playdates. Letting my 8-year-old join Messenger Kids was our baby step toward letting her use some form of communicative technology. She can request to get calls and call friends, but only with our approval and the other parent’s approval. I can also see her messages, and I will get warnings about anything that seems inappropriate on either end of any of her phone calls. Not only can she video call with her friends, but they can also use filters and play a variety of games during their interaction. Messenger Kids has been beneficial during the pandemic when we were home a lot of the time. She could stay connected and even find more buddies through mutual friends of hers and connect to a few of my friends’ kiddos. This has been a great tool for her to see and talk to her buddies from school and our family and family friends. Here is a link for info on Messenger Kids: https://www.facebook.com/help/messenger-app/213724335832452/.
I have never heard of this app until today. This app has a lot to offer. There are two options: download the app for free or get a “premium membership” for $4.99 a month. Some of the things you can do on this app are – find local verified families for playdates, offer to host a playdate, send a playdate request to see if a nearby family would host your kiddo/s for a playdate, discover playdate ideas, or even earn cash for hosting playdates. I love this idea. My husband and I always always feel bad ever asking anyone to babysit. But the idea of sending out a request seems so much easier! I know if I saw a request from one of our kids’ friend’s parents, I would gladly accept it to give them a night out. I really like this approach. It certainly “takes a village,” as they say. On the ideas section of the website, there are some fun-looking experiments to entertain the kids. The about section explains that Keedo is like a babysitting co-op. What a great idea! Here is the link for more info: https://keedoo.app/.
This one is not specifically for playdates but involves moms meeting other moms with similar interests. But as I said before, kids who aren’t in school can’t meet and become friends if their parents don’t meet, amirite? The focus of the app is to connect women regarding fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood. I adore the idea of this. I have found that sometimes, it’s easier to connect with people I don’t know than my own friends I’ve known for twenty years if I and said stranger is going through something similar. I noticed this when I joined a book club through Facebook. The book club has over 60,000 members. I have had some very deep conversations about life, love, and books with people I don’t even know in the last couple of months! There is something to be said for “groups” and camaraderie. Peanut would be a good place for women who have a child/children and are looking to set up a local playdate with a mom they feel comfortable with. The founder, Michelle Kennedy, states that she designed the website a little over ten years ago due to one reason: the isolation of being a new mom. There are many discussion forums on the site about varied topics. The goal of the website is to “meet, learn, and chat with like-minded women.” Here is the link for more info: https://www.peanut-app.io/.
This app is also new to me. The website, like Peanut, states the goal as “finding like-minded parents.” The ultimate goal is finding playdates for your kiddos. I like their approach. The instructions include entering your child’s gender and age and then letting MomieGo know about YOU: do you consider yourself fun, fashionable, quiet, quirky, and so on. The website aims to pair you with similar personalities to build “friendships you and your kiddo won’t grow out of.” I could not love their motto anymore, “connecting parent squads & kid pods one right swipe at a time,” ha-ha! Here is the link to the app: https://momiegoapp.com/. They also have an Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/momiegoapp/?hl=en.
Aside from these organized groups, I have always leaned on the calendar on the “PDX Parent” kids’ calendar. Every week, they refresh the daily activities in Portland for kids and families. They tell about what activity is where on what day and time. It had saved us many times when we were sitting at home, bored. Even better, they display free activities as well as activities that are available for a cost. We have often attended events to find many other families, and my kiddos have made good buddies. Here is the link to the calendar: https://pdxparent.com/events-calendar/.
As one of the websites I researched earlier read, “parenting does not come with a manual.” If a parent doesn’t have family, friends, nearby community, or colleagues: it can feel impossible to find friends for their kiddo/s. I am so grateful for the people who put these playdate/parenting groups together to help other parents beat isolation and gain a sense of camaraderie. Kids need to find opportunities to play with their fellow peers before preschool/kindergarten. Best of luck to you all in finding playdates for your kiddos and maybe even a parent buddy for yourself!
Stephanie McCoy was born and raised in Portland, Oregon-where she still lives. She recently graduated with a Master’s in Education degree from Concordia University. In her free time: she likes to read and write, get outdoors, embrace her kiddos and husband, and watch travel documentaries.