Organizing a play date for your child is a great way to get him/her to gain confidence and practice social skills. Moreover, a play date can give you a much-deserved break. If you are wondering where to start, here are some easy steps:
Whom would you like to swap dates with? If your child has taken a liking to a particular kid, you should organize with that child’s parent. You could also plan with your friends who have kids of a similar age. If the group of parents becomes too large, it will be easier to coordinate your events if you use an app like Teamup Calendar to share plans, schedule events, and communicate status.
Do something fun together
Invite this parent and her children to meet you at a local park or any other informal setting. This allows you to get to know the parent and see how the kids will interact first hand. If everything goes well during the initial meeting, you can now plan the play date without worrying that your child will not enjoy himself/herself.
You should be up front with the other parent when looking for play dates. Just ask whether he or she is willing to set up a play date for your child. If the parent agrees, you can start planning it together. Whatever you do, you should not force your child to hang out with the same child if she/he does not want to – he might have a good reason for refusing.
You should keep the initial play date short to avoid running into problems. This allows the kids to have fun without feeling too overwhelmed by the set up. Two hours is enough time to see how the children are getting along without burdening the other parent.
When it is your turn to host the play date, you should stay close by and observe what the kids are doing. If you cannot stay in the same room, make the playroom childproof and stay within earshot. Ideally, you should not be more than one room away.
You should also enquire about any food allergies that the children you are hosting may have. This will allow you to feed the children well and keep them safe.
You need to establish a few ground rules before allowing the kids to start playing: ‘keep the door open at all times’, only eat in the kitchen’, and ‘no fighting’. If you plan to repeat the play dates regularly, you need to have some continuity and structure for them to be successful.
Keep things interesting
Try to think of things that will keep the kids occupied, such as board games and playing LEGOs. Try to steer the kids away from video games and TV programs during the play date. If the kids end up being bored, you should just hand them some markers and empty boxes to write on.
Do you have the right tools? Making a fort is always fun. Moreover, you can offer them a simple snack to share, which can distract them from their boredom.
Activities for the host
During the play date, you might find that the children like moving from one place to another. This will give you the ideal opportunity to clean and vacuum up after them. While the kids are playing, you can get a lot done; you do not have to sit there and twiddle your thumbs.
Communicate with the other parent
When the other parent comes to pick up his/her child, you should be ready to provide some useful feedback about the play date. Did his/her child enjoy the play date? Did you run into any trouble? If you add a summary of the play day to the calendar app mentioned earlier, it’d be easy to share with other parents. You may find it’s not so hard at all to have a great play date, from planning to journaling!