The Only Child Play Date Finder

Will someone please build this product for me? When you have an only child, you can endlessly set up play dates, but you will still inevitably find yourself on a Saturday afternoon, having exhausted your tolerance for playing Vampire Bunnies for the 35th time, and wishing your kid had someone to play with while you prepped dinner. I would like to be able to go to a browser and/or mobile device and set my status to “looking for play date now” and look at a list of other parents in my network who are in the same boat. The service should sort by proximity, age of kid, and/or other factors I choose. I would of course approve everyone in my network so we’re talking about people we already know here; it could just be a Facebook app even, but it needs a mobile interface. It could also ask for proposed length of play date, and match you up the way you find which cars are available on Zipcar. The service should offer the option that of receiving text messages or other alerts when a family in your network sets their status to “looking.” The “invite for play date now” function should be like a poke on Facebook, or even a meeting request in Outlook, in that it should save you the social overhead of having to call and politely ask how the other parent is doing, etc. You can always pick up the phone and chat if you want to, but sometimes you just need to make the date and execute.

Obviously, this doesn’t need to be limited to only children. Kids with siblings sometimes need impromptu dates with kids their own age. Also, I’m sure there are other applications of this same basic mechanic, though I can’t actually think of any.

Oh, but it should also have “going to Ikea” and “going to Target” as two of the status options, and allow you to text your friends the couple of things they could pick up for you while they’re there. And you earn some kind of points for saving your friends trips to the store.

12 responses to “The Only Child Play Date Finder

  1. I haven’t read it yet but the NYT Magazine article this coming Sunday might have something germane:

    I’m sorry not to be able to comment at length (well, actually, at all) because your blog has been fabulous lately. Thanks, though, for the Kiva and DonorsChose links. I share your queasiness about the whole Republican, individual initiative aspect but also the feeling that, what the hell, if the government isn’t doing what it should, someone ought to be.

  2. Oh, I meant the above for your previous post.

  3. I think you’re talking about BrightKite.

  4. That’s funny, I have a brightkite account but never used it because I didn’t know what it was for. I guess I’ll try it.

  5. I haven’t thought of using Brightkite for this yet, but it could work.

    As a parent of an easily board 7 year old, I’m always interested in finding better ways to manage her time. The challenge I have is that a lot of her classmates parents are not as technology savvy. I guess I will have to go out and evangelize the benefits of everyone using a service like brightkite or even a shared online calendar.

  6. Attention all mothers… your wishes will soon be answered… My name is Barry and I recently started an online social networking venture to do just this (facilitate the identification and coordination of playdates among mothers in specific regions), among many other services very applicable for Moms. The site is called, and I am hoping to have a Beta version completed very soon. If you would like more information, or to participate in an online survey or focus groups to help us refine our features and service offerings, please do feel free to contact me at

    Thanks, and stay tuned…

  7. Well, I don’t have an only-child play date finder, though I think it’s brilliant and I could certainly use one myself! I DO have a social network and magazine for moms who care about health and sustainability, and wonder if you would be so inspired as to help me make some connections in the Web 2.0/Investment world…

    Rhythm of Life, LLC is seeking angel investors to fund the growth of Mindful Mama website and magazine. Mindful Mama™ is the first parenting magazine to incorporate a robust online social- network, offering a multi-dimensional community experience that targets LOHAS consumers.

    Given that moms make 4 out of 5 purchase decisions and that 30% of moms are considered LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), Mindful Mama is positioned to become one of the top social-networks in the country.

    Both of our current angel investors are women entrepreneurs- Libby Cook, co-founder of Wild Oats Markets and Seana Lowe, founder of the Transformative Leadership Institute.

    Given your experience with Web 2.0, I would like to hear your thoughts on tactical ways to develop the Mindful Mama brand, in addition to talking about investment.

    If you are so inspired, I can be reached at I can send you a full presentation/summary via e-mail.

  8. Hey, Jen. We have this functionality — usually cued by my saying, “[kid name], go outside and find someone to play with.”

    Of course, here in Michigan this only works 6 months out of the year. Sigh.

    take care, Victoria

  9. Hi Jen,

    I came across this posting and although we may be a few years too late for you, you should check out – it’s a site where parents can find playgroups and plan playdates with other parents.


  10. Combined with some good activities for them to take part in this could be a winner. The kids would benefits from scaled down versions of team building activities; a lot of fun and development benefits.

  11. Did you even find what you were looking for .Because I’m looking for the same thing at the moment

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