Imagine trying to keep up with a toddler’s energetic activities. It can be tiresome, particularly if you are a stay-at-home parent who needs to tend to house chores as well. But staying in the house for days on end can be boring to the child and the parent, too. A playdate is an excellent opportunity for a toddler to have interactive play with other kids while parents engage in adult talk – something most stay-at-home parents would admit missing in their life.
Playdates are scheduled play times for kids such as cousins, neighbors or family friends. It is usually set at one parent’s home – the host, or in a family restaurant where there is an allotted space for kids to play. Play dates are best for young children because parents can easily control the environment compared to play parks or day care centers where there are too many children of different ages.
Don’t panic if it’s your turn to host a play date at home. You can’t go wrong with a simple structured activity and some snacks. Here are some helpful tips:
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE
Communicate with the play group parents to set the time and date of the playdate. You may send an online map of your place so your guests won’t get lost going there. Other parents would understand if your place is not entirely clean upon their arrival. Just make sure that the room you plan to use for the kids, and the guest bathroom is tidy and child-proofed. It is not a children’s party, so some simple snacks will do for the kids. Crackers, bread snacks and juice boxes are a favorite. Ask the other parents whether their child is allergic to a certain type of food, so you can avoid that for the day.
LINE UP ACTIVITIES
A play date gives the kids a chance to interact with each other, so prepare one or two simple activities. Kids love doing art, so painting and coloring should be a hit. You can also prepare a cookie recipe where kids can participate in baking (and later, eating) them. For a more lively activity, you can try to set up a mini golf course using your kids toys, pillows and play sets. Children would also enjoy taking a dip in the pool, during summer.
A couple of simple, yet fun activities will do since toddlers are still too young for structured games. After snacks, you can start a storytelling session. Elect the other parents to take turns reading the story in an animated way. This should help the kids relax in time for their drive home.
Some kids may not be too eager to participate in group activities. They may not be used to playing with others, so let them do their own thing. Conflict between children is also inevitable during play time, so take that opportunity to teach your child how to give way and share toys with other kids. As long as they don’t hurt each other on purpose, there’s no reason to pull a child out of the activity area.
ENJOY THE COMPANY
The play date is not only beneficial to the children. With the extra hands, and not to mention eyes, to look after the kids, parents can sit back and relax. Enjoy colorful conversations with other parents over a cup of tea or coffee and some biscuits. If the play group is staying around lunch or dinner times, suggest a potluck meal so you can eat together as a group.
Hosting a play date is easy as long as you don’t sweat it out too much. It is meant to make the parents’ lives easier instead of having an additional chore. Plus, it’s cheaper and more wholesome. Invite your neighbor over for a play date for starters, and grow your group along the way.