It's school holidays and another parent offers to take your child to the movies. Do you send money? And would you take it if the situation was reversed?
Whether you're a working parent or the stay-at-home variety, school holidays can be a chore at times. But ask any working parent what the biggest struggle is when it comes to the summer school holidays, and they will most likely tell you it's child care.
Most people get by with a combination of annual leave, family and vacation care. But a play date with a friend can be a great option all round - it's low cost and you know the kids will have a ball.
But who pays for activities?
Money matters and friendship can be an awkward pairing, so we asked five Aussie mums what they do when it comes to friends having their kids for a day during the holidays and vice versa.
Activity play dates
The general consensus when it comes to play dates where activities are involved is that you send money with your child. A trip to the movies or bowling, or even a Happy Meal for lunch can start to add up, and let's face it - if you're getting free child care, the least you can do is cover your child's costs. This point was unanimous.
"I would always send money if I knew my child was going out to the movies or a play centre," said Bonnie from Perth. "If they were just staying at the house with their friend I would often send them with food to share like fruit or some muffins, etc."
Now there's an idea!
Amy from Melbourne added, "I always send money too if I know they are going to a specific place. Or if the parent has told me they will pay for the movies I send extra for popcorn or treats."
Leah from Sydney said she always offers because "it's always nice to offer and I feel bad... they're already providing free childcare, the least I can do is cover costs."
I personally always send money because free child care is very hard to come by and it's just the right thing to do, and Paige from the Gold Coast agreed, adding, "I've always sent my son with money to cover costs."
Generally, everyone sends money with their kids when they know the activity is going to require it, but what about when the tables are turned?
Do you accept money?
As a parent, caring for someone else's child, do you accept the money from other parents when offered? This too can be a little awkward, but the trend leans towards no.
"If I offer to have someone's kid and I decide to go somewhere I don't expect the other parent to give me money," said Paige, adding, "I'd stick around the $20 mark like going bowling and McDonald's or to a movie."
Bonnie's response was similar: "I would always refuse if someone tried to give me money as I know it’s my choice to take them to these places."
Amy says she has taken money in the past but only when it was pushed upon her, but she never takes from her single mum friends because "it just feels wrong and I love to treat my friends where I can."
Leah said she always offers, but is currently in a situation where a much-valued friend is having her son on multiple days and going on multiple activities, but refusing all offers of cash.
"I really want to cover his costs, but my friend won't take it," Leah said, adding she will likely show her appreciation with a gift afterwards.
There seemed to be an overall theme with all parents to attempt to cover their kids' costs when a friend is helping out. But they would never expect the gesture back in return. But those friends (and family) that go above and beyond, they're certainly worth a bottle of wine at the end of the day or week, don't you think?