Play dates are a part of life when you’ve got children. It’s a chance for your child to interact with other children and have fun. But there’re some little tricks that can make them much easier. With these tips you’ll soon be hosting play dates like a pro.
1. Have a Begin and End Time
It’s always best to have a begin and end time for the play dates you host. It doesn’t leave room for question. You and the other parent(s) know exactly what times are planned for drop off and pick up. It also helps you to prepare your children for when the play date will be over. How long you host a play date should depend upon your schedule and the age of the children. Generally, the younger the children, the shorter the play date should be.
2. Plan Activities
You’re asking for trouble if you expect the children to completely entertain themselves. They can do that to a certain degree but it’s always best to have some activities planned for at least a portion of the play date. You can get creative here. You can help with some art projects, have a special movie planned or let them enjoy outdoor activities. The main thing is that you’ve got activities planned to keep their attention.
3. Respect Naptime
If your child is still at the age where they take naps then you want to respect that. You don’t want to plan a play date when it’s naptime. That’s likely to end up being a disaster. Plan a play date when your child is fresh and well-rested. Usually early morning or right after naptime are the best time slots.
4. Serve Fun and Healthy Snacks
Snacks are an important part of play dates. You don’t have to serve elaborate snacks that take tons of time to prep. The goal is to serve something healthy that the kids will actually eat. String cheese and crackers, Cuties, or pudding cups are good choices. You should always check with the other parent about food allergies before the play date.
5. Be Open to Meeting Somewhere
It’s possible that the other parent may want to meet somewhere for the play date. They may want to be along for it and that’s okay. This is a good idea if either of you aren’t comfortable leaving your child in the other parent’s care yet. Parks, kid-friendly restaurants and other kid-friendly locations make good choices for play dates. The good thing about this option is that it offers you the opportunity to get to know the other parent better.
6. Be Friendly to the Other Parent
You always want to be friendly to the other parent. After all, if your children are friends then you’re more than likely going to be working with this other parent for years to come. It’s also possible that you could become friends yourselves. You have the same stage of parenting in common to help you relate to each other. Be open to the possibility of friendship by making an effort to always be friendly.
7. Supervise but Don’t Hover
If the children are in your care then it’s important to supervise them. You want to make sure they’re safe and playing well together. But you want to be careful not to go cross the line from supervising into hovering. Give the kids a little space. Let them try to work some things out on their own before you intervene.
These are 7 tips for mastering the art of play dates for parents. Which of these tips are helpful to you? I’d love to hear your ideas, too.