I have to admit we don’t do many playdates. Mainly because I work, so N goes to after school club. And in the holidays is at holiday club or working with the OH would just wouldn’t ‘do’ playdates. He just refuses to take N places. So he just doesn’t get asked by children in the class.
Mostly the playdates he has are via his friends who have mums I’m friends with. His playdates usually become ‘our’ playdates and turn into all days whether at homes or going out for the day. We still have some valuable advice to share if your child wants a playdate and you’re not sure of the protocol.
Because we all worry about them. The nightmare playdates where the house gets turned upside down by the children before you’re left putting everything away. Or you dread turning up to hear your child has been the one running amok.
Something to remember though – you don’t have to do playdates. Yes, it might make it hard for your child to make good friendships if everyone around them is having playdates left right and centre.
Avoid them if:
1, you have OCD
2, you would get too anxious at kids going feral or hyper
3, if you worry at the thought of having to control other people’s children
4, you hate other people’s children (I’m not usually a fan of children on the whole, but thankfully N’s friends so far have all been fine, and it helps I like the parents too).
For a successful playdate that children enjoy, you have to chill out and accept that it might be more messy and rowdy than you could ever imagine. Oh, and plan for what you might say on the occasion that you find 5 year olds semi-naked in a bedroom together (this may have once happened here).
The best playdates according to children:
We can just play
We can eat what we want when we want
Mums stay out of the way
We can play outside (whatever the weather)
We get to play with other toys
There are baby brothers or sisters to play with
We get to see other people’s houses
Maybe this isn’t what we want as parents, so here’s my tips on hosting successful playdates
How to host a successful playdate
1, Tidy and clean up, but only to a level that you would be happy to have another parent turn up. You’ll only have to clean up again afterwards
2, Put away any breakables and any toys that your children don’t want others to play with.
3, Unless you know the other parent and child and don’t mind the playdate drifting, set a specific time. So 2 hours, and say if you’ll feed them or not.
4, Agree whether the other parent is staying or leaving the child
5, Check for food allergies
6, Get the other child to bring outdoor wear. Pray for good weather and turf the children outside
7, Don’t hover, let them get on with it, including giving them space to sort out their own disagreements
8, Let them have treat food. It’s better to send the other child home fed than hungry and only serving ‘good’ healthy foods that lots of children won’t eat.
9, Have a picnic meal on a blanket, then just scoop up the blanket and shake off outside afterwards.
10, Have different activity options set up or available. You could have an activity jar they can choose from, set up a crafting table, have a scavenger hunt or sports circuits in the garden.
11, Ensure they have some quiet time.
12, Make it clear what the rules are about tidying up afterwards.
13, Give them a countdown to end of the playdate – 15 mins and 5 mins. This helps them prepare for it and hopefully avoid any meltdowns because they know it’s coming.
If all else fails and you really can’t see other children playing in your house, offer a park meet up instead. Kids love the park and picnics and as long as the children follow rules of staying within the playground, there’s little danger.
How do you deal with playdates? Have you had any disasters?
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