Playdates are a wonderful way for your little ones to interact and play with their peers while developing their social skills. They can also offer a much-needed break for parents and an opportunity to enjoy the company of other adults. However, setting up playdates can be stressful and intimidating for both parents and children at first. The following are helpful tips to plan for a successful playdate:
1. Who to invite: Talk to your children about who they would like to have over. For a second opinion, ask their teacher who your children get along with best or which classmates have a similar temperament. If you think your child may be overwhelmed by their first playdate, it may be best to host at your home where he/she is in a familiar environment and feels comfortable.
2. Best time for a playdate: Ideally, schedule a playdate after mealtime and before naps. This way, your children have the energy they need to fuel their playtime. But be sure to pack a light snack and drink in case your kids get hungry or thirsty to avoid a cranky meltdown.
3. Keep it short and small: When initially dipping your feet in the playdate pool, it is important not to overwhelm your child. Plan for an hour or two with one friend and allow him/her to get accustomed to this arrangement before extending the time and invitations.
4. Plan on sticking around: Especially if your child is younger or if this is the first playdate, it will be best for parents to stay to monitor their child and get to know the other parents. As your children get older, drop off will become an option especially if it’s with a well-known family. Just make sure they are settled and comfortable before you leave.
5. Check-in and step in when necessary: Occasionally, check in with your child and see if they need to use the bathroom or want a snack. Also, make sure your child is having a good time and allowing others to have fun too. Step in when you hear screaming, or if someone gets physical with another and discuss what went wrong.
6. Be the best guest: As a guest, make sure to be on time and have the host’s contact number handy in case you are running late. Offer to bring snacks especially if your children have food allergies or are picky eaters. And when it’s time to go, lend a hand in clean-up.
7. Let them enjoy it: Above all else, try not to hover and give your children the space to play and figure things out independently.
With these simple tips, we hope your child will experience a positive playdate experience. Remember, with practice and preparation, both you and your child will have the stage set for a successful and enjoyable social gathering.