Tips to help play dates run smoothly for hosts, attendees
Some parents find hosting a play date to be complex since you need to coordinate many details. Other adults love when children get together and play. They say that having kids over helps keep the little ones engaged and entertained.
When hosting a play date, find activities all kids will enjoy.
There is an important social aspect to hosting and attending play dates — children learn how to share, behave at someone else’s home and also follow rules. A play date can also provide a new adventure.
To ease the process of planning a play date, here are some ideas to help things run smoothly.
- Plan in advance. If you are seeking to bring many children together, you might need to plan a date in advance. Since all families have different schedules, it might take awhile to find a date that works for everyone.
- Age appropriateness. When you’re determining who to invite, consider how old a child is or what development level they’re at. Some children play really well with babies while others might find babies to be dull. A good rule of thumb is to invite children who attend preschool or school with your child. It will be fun to visit with friends outside of the classroom. You can also find older children who like younger children and vice versa. If in doubt, ask your child what he or she prefers.
- Make play fun. Seek to do a group activity like a treasure hunt or play bingo. Consider playing games or doing activities that you can’t complete with just your family members.
- Coveted toys. You might want to put away your child’s favorite toy or game, so it doesn’t break or pieces don’t go missing during the play date. Children might also become very possessive over their coveted toy. To remove this potential barrier, put favorite toys away until after friends have left. (It might also help children cope when their friends leave. You can say, “Now, you can play with your favorite doll.”)
- Open communication. Before the play date, make sure to speak with each child’s parents and ask about any pet or food allergies the child might have. You want to make sure you have a safe environment. You should also invite the family to send a few of their child’s toys along. This way, everyone will have something new to play with.
- Drop off and pick up. Consider arranging a specific drop-off and pick-up time. Are you going to meet at school or preschool? Will one parent drop off the child and another pick up the child? Will the child stay for supper? Make sure expectations are well communicated.
- Plan ahead. Part of what makes a play date extra fun is doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Consider planning a craft project or making a fun snack. If you plan an activity, make sure to have all of the needed supplies on hand. We also recommend having some go-to items set aside if kids get bored or don’t know what to do. Playing with bubbles, reading books, playing a game, painting a picture or drawing together are always fun options.
- Clean up. Parents of all children should tell their child that it is expected that everyone helps with clean up. Before anyone can leave, toys should be put away, books should be on shelves and the house should look just as good as before the play date began. Taking responsibility together helps lessen the burden of picking up when children leave. You can also make a game out of cleaning up and try to put everything away before you count to 30 or sing a song about cleaning up.
These are just a few ideas to help make your play date more successful and fun for everyone. We hope you and your child have many fun play dates.