Having playdates for your children and their classmates or neighbors is a great way to help foster a number of social and developmental skills, as well as to give you a chance to catch up with other parents and get some socializing in without having to hire a sitter. Or alternatively, playdates can be a great way for multiple parents to trade off responsibilities of looking after the kids and getting some time away without having to pay money to do so.
Here are a few tips for successful playdates:
Parents are very busy creatures, as you know. You’ll want to give the other parent or parents plenty of advance notice with a specific timeframe to have the playdate so they can plan accordingly and make all the necessary arrangements and preparations.
But be flexible
Don’t get too attached to that well-laid plan. Kids are unpredictable and sickness, tantrums, lost socks and other wildcards can and will come up. Just roll with the punches and go with the flow. If it doesn’t work out, even with the best of planning, you can always try again another day.
Have a back-up plan
To that end, if you are counting on this time to get away for necessary things – whether a doctor appointment or some much needed relaxation for a few hours – make sure you have a back-up plan in case the host parent can’t host after all at the last minute.
Think of the health logistics
Before the first playdate, make sure to check with your guests to see if they have any food or animal allergies (or intense fears/phobias, etc.) that you should account for. On the flip side, if your child is going to be the guest and has any allergies, be sure to let your host know because they may not think about it on their own.
Think of the potty logistics
Find out ahead of time what everyone’s potty training level is so that you can plan accordingly. If you’re going to be the guest, be sure to account for your own child’s level of training and let the hosting parents know if there are any special cues or needs for your child to have a happy, comfortable, successful time in someone else’s home. Send diapers if necessary and make sure you’re on the same page about changing them if you’re not going to be present at the playdate the whole time.
Before and after the playdate, be sure to clean and disinfect all surfaces, clothes, rugs, toys, etc. Not only will little hands and fingers be all over everything, but mouths probably will be too. Make sure to protect the kids from themselves and each other with all those germs!
Play dates are a great way for both kids and parents to be social and relax. They’re also great for developing social skills and connecting with others, so incorporating them into your family’s routine is a really good idea. Stay tuned for more playdate ideas and tips in future blog posts!