Planning a successful playdate can be stressful or incredibly easy, depending on how prepared you are for the inevitable chaos. Or depending on your attitude. If you dread it, it will be terrible. If you’re looking forward to it, it will be fun! Don’t get me wrong-I LOVE playdates. Socializing your children is incredibly important at every age and having people in your home or going to another person’s place is an excellent opportunity for your child to learn respect, manners, rules, sharing (oh no, not sharing) and much more.
Playdates at your house are AWESOME…as long as they don’t end badly. And we all know they can end…really, really badly. Depending on the age of your children, having friends over can actually make your life EASIER. All you have to do is create a safe environment that has yummy snacks and fun activities!
With babies, having soft toys to play with and places for them to sleep safely is important. Babies are pretty slobbery though, so disinfecting the toys afterwards can be a good idea. A tablespoon of bleach in a sink full of warm water will do. Just soak the toys for a bit. If they can go in the washing machine-even better! You don’t need your kids getting sick after playing with their friends. Although, I have to laugh. Babies “playing” with their “friends” is really just an excuse to have coffee with another adult, is it not? And there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Stay sane, new parents. Stay sane.
Toddlers. Sigh. Oh the phases of toddlerhood. My children have gone through the “not listening” phase and “attitude” phase…and the oh-so-cute “foot stomping/hands-on-hips/talk-back/NO!” phase. Mmm, I do love that one. Having a toddler playdate is really just seeing if you can discipline your child in front of others without them (openly) judging your parenting style. Fun! Be sure they are safe by baby-proofing your house. Try your best to set out the rules of your home and contain them to an area you don’t mind being trashed. Then watch as chaos ensues.
School-aged children have more experience playing with other kids their age, but that doesn’t mean they know how to share with their own toys at home or not be jerks to each other. Kids can probably be out of sight (only if you’re comfortable with that and they’re in a safe environment), but checking in every so often is never a bad thing. See what’s going on! I have a strict open-door policy at my house. Play all you want, but not behind closed doors. That will most likely carry over into teenager territory…if that’s possible. Oh who am I kidding…
Playdates don’t need to be indoors-or even at your house! On a really cold March day, I’ve rented a couple of lanes at the local bowling alley and invited everyone I know. The kids hurdle the balls down the gutters and then run around like chickens with their heads cut off. They see their friends, giggle like crazy and then come home and sleep. It’s great. Sometimes you have to get creative-especially if you just don’t have the space.
Movies are fun too-there is nothing like sticking a bunch of kids in a dark room with candy and popcorn and expecting them to sit still. Oh the challenge! Plus, children’s movies are awesome! And if you go to see them by yourself, people start to call you a “weirdo”, so take some kids and wham-you’re a good parent and you get entertained for a couple of hours. BONUS!
Overall, playdates are a great way for parents and children to connect. Try new things, or not-just get the kids together and see what happens. Roll with it. Hopefully, your kids will end up having great friends or you’ll end up connecting with other people going through the same trials and tribulations as you…y’know, parenthood.
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