Working Mom Redemption (aka, The Cookie Playdate)

When I was an editor at Real Simple a few years ago, and then later at Cookie, I won the lottery. The working mom’s lottery. After years of fist-pounding and squeaky-wheeling, I was granted a four-day work week. Not four days in the office, then one working from home. That fifth day — Wednesday, then later Friday — was off. Mine. I could drop off and pick up the girls from school. I could go to the dry-cleaner. I could go to Trader Joe’s during off hours!

But best of all, I could host playdates.

I could’ve invited kids over on Saturdays or Sundays, of course, but since the family was together so rarely during the week, we generally tried our hardest to place a moratorium on structured weekend plans. As a result, I met their classmates at drop-off and I saw them at birthday parties, but I was rarely able to witness how my daughters interacted, one-on-one, with their pals. And it killed me. I would say on my personal working mom’s guilt-o-meter* it was one of the things that registered the highest. And so on those Fridays off, I tried to schedule playdates as often as I could. And as often as I could on those playdates, I tried my hardest to be Fun Mom. Which of course, meant homemade cookies. (Sorry, Mme. Secretary of State.)

The level of kid involvement evolved as they got older, but as early as two, the girls were mesmerized by the simple act of pushing a few M&Ms into spooned cookie dough rounds. And since the recipe for Tollhouse Cookies has been tattooed on my brain from so many years of making them with my mom, that’s usually the cookie dough of choice.

*I’ll show you mine if you show me yours…?

Working Mom M&M Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips or M&Ms or both

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate, reserving a little pile of M&Ms for each kid helping. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Have the kids push their M&Ms into rounds.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

No, Iris. Down.

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I am a working mom who can’t host playdates either, and I love this idea. I’m bookmarking this for when I get to be a Fun Mom like you!


jessie – i know a mom who hosts a cookie baking playdate every few months on saturday morning (usually timing it with valentine’s day or christmas so she can break out the fun stuff). she invites three or four kids over at once. i love that.


I know what you mean byt the Mama guilt. I have summers off and I cram in WAAAY to much fun due to the Mama guilt.
Love the cookies. For playdate treats I also like to make the frozen chocolate bananas. My tot like to pick out the toppings to roll them in. I think I got this idea from Cookie!


I also have Fridays off and I always – without fail – try to run a few errands with kids in tow on those days. And I hate it. I need to start doing fun things like this again. When my son was really little we had weekly Friday playdates with his baby group. Now that he is older, those dates have faded away with everyone in preschool. I need to recapture that old playdate feeling, invite a friend or two over and make cookies, or play in the backyard in the pool and have lemonade. I think I know what I am doing now this coming Friday. Thanks for the inspiration.


Still mourning the loss of Cookie. What a delightful magazine.

And you are right…having a playdate once in awhile is the best. My girls are busy with a friend outside as I type. Maybe later we’ll make some cookies!