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By Thea Theresa English

Make playdates fun and memorable

Playdates are a great way for kids to meet new friends and for moms to connect, too. It takes creativity and planning to pull off an amazing playdate; if it's successful, your kids will have lifetime memories. Through playdates your children learn how to get along with others and the importance of empathy and respect.

Always have abundance of snacks and meals

This is essential to a successful playdate with kids. Some good choices include chocolate-covered nuts or pretzels, finger sandwiches, cheeseburgers with fries, fresh fruit, yogurt, spaghetti and meatballs and macaroni with cheese. Before the playdate, ask the other parent what her child's food preferences are since some small children might be picky eaters.

Let your child in on the planning

When your child has a part in the planning, the playdate will be more enjoyable for him. Ask him which activities he is interested in for the playdates and which friends he wants to invite to your home. Discuss with your child which activities you will not approve of and why, and you should discuss the general house rules so that boundaries are set. Look for creative ways to carry out your child's suggestions.

Break the ice with a fun activity

When the other kids arrive at your home for a playdate, they might feel awkward if meeting your child for the first time. You can break the ice by having the kids introduce themselves and then you can start an activity that all will enjoy. For example, if you know that the kids like playing with Legos, you can have them play with these while asking them about themselves.

Invite the other parent

If your child is a toddler, he might experience separation anxiety in a new environment. In these cases invite the other parent to the playdate. It also gives the other parent the chance to observe how the kids play together. This gives you the opportunity to establish a new friendship with the parent.

Timing is important

If your child generally takes a nap between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., this is not the right time for a playdate. Or if your child is a little cranky in the morning hours, an afternoon playdate would work best. When you schedule playdates you have to think about the time and the mood your child might be in.

Monitor but don't hover

There will be times during playdates where you will have to step in and be the disciplinarian but you do not want to hover over the kids as they play because they need to learn how to play and solve conflict independently. When the other kids come over, set some reasonable rules and consequences if those rules are broken. Then let the kids enjoy themselves.

Praise your child's good behavior after the playdate

This encourages good behavior during future playdates. If your child was respectful of his friend's belongings while playing with them, tell him how proud you are of him. Or if you noticed that he cleaned his room properly after the playdate, tell him that he did the right thing.

Playdates are fun and they teach children important life lessons.

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