Viral TikTok ignites debate about charging ‘expenses’ to fellow parents after playdates

two girls having playdate and using art supplies - charging expenses for playdate

Parenting is expensive. There’s simply no two ways about it. Managing expenses for your own kids is tricky for the vast majority of parents, so of course adding other kids into the mix makes things even costlier.

In a since-deleted TikTok, one mom went viral for wondering aloud if fellow parents can “normalize sending the other family money after playdates.” In the clip, she explained that she’d sent another mom a $15 charge for “expenses” after their daughters had played together, and people have strong feelings about her proposed practice.

She shared the text exchange between herself and the other mom, first sharing a photo of the two girls playing with chalk on the porch outside, looking like they were having a blast.

“Thanks for letting Jamie play today,” she wrote, adding, “please help out with your share of the expenses for the playdate totaling $15 via Venmo! Let’s do it again soon!”

“Expenses?” the other mom asked.

“Yes she used supplies and food while she was here,” she explained, “and this way we can do this more often without a monetary obligation on just one party.”

When asked “what supplies?” she responded with a detailed list of various charges, including $1 for sidewalk chalk, $5 for snacks and drinks, $3 for three trips to the bathroom, $5 for a broken LOL Surprise doll, and a $1 for charge for “wear and tear” from sitting on the family’s couch. “What do you think?” she asked followers.

The other mom did not respond, but did send $15 as requested. Others on TikTok were baffled by the exchange, with many believing the approach—i.e. asking for the funds after the fact instead of before the playdate—is the main issue here.

“Make this clear before the kid gets dropped off,” one dad said in response. “‘Hey, by the way, I’m wondering if we can share expenses. It’ll probably be $10 or $15 for your kid to play for the day. Are you cool with that? It helps me; my expenses are a little cray cray.’”

Most commenters agreed that if the playdate had included a trip out, say to an amusement park or something else with a cost of admission, the request would have come across more reasonably. But a playdate at the home, with minimal expenses, would seemingly not require any sort of payment in exchange.

“No way,” one mom commented. “If your kid is coming over to play, they’re my kid too and I’ve got it covered.”

Of course, every person’s financial situation and comfort level is different, so there’s no right or wrong answer here. While this viral incident has sparked debate, it opens up a broader conversation about the economics of modern parenting and social expectations in an era of rising costs. But ultimately, the goal should be to create an environment where children can form meaningful friendships and parents can build supportive communities—without financial considerations becoming a barrier to social interaction.