Playdates are laughter.
Playdates are excitement.
Playdates are tears, broken toys, spilled milk, worst tantrums ever and parents with attitude...
This is my short guide(short, because you can really write a novel about all kinds of playdates, fun, drama and how to avoid the latter and maximize the former) to having decent(smile here) playdates.
If You Are a Parent Hosting the Playdate
- Let your child pick playmates...sort of. Limit the choice to the kids you approve. You need to know the parents, their phone numbers, address maybe some medical insurance information just in case. You never know when you are dealing with children, especially if they are young. What if a child gets sick or hurt and needs medical attention? Also, you need to know what kind of family the child is from to avoid negative influences. I know it doesn't sound right but we need to look out for our own kids first. You know how fast they pick up all bad habits. I'd rather spend time on learning something new than correcting mistakes of others. It is almost impossible to avoid them completely but I try to avoid most of them. If my daughter hasn't known about spitting I don't want her to start doing it now.
- When inviting playmates take into consideration the size of your play area. I would not recommend to invite more than 1 when they are toddlers because they need a lot of attention, and more than 2 (of any age) if you have a small place. In my opinion, one friend is all your child needs. You invite 2 - one child might get left out in the gaming process; invite more than that - make sure that you are not the only one supervising the play. It might get out of control faster than you know it.
- Contact the parents of the invited child/children and get the information about allergies(important!), favorite snacks, toys and things to do. Save yourself some trouble. No need to fight finicky eaters and deal with "but-i-do-not-like-this-one" stuff.
- Make sure your play area is safe for the age of the kids you are inviting. No sharp corners, open electric outlets, small items that might cause choking.
- Think about the kind of activity you are going to provide for the children in advance. Get all the supplies ready for that. It might be a themed playdate or just a number of random games you know the children enjoy playing. Have a rainy day back-up plan and some extra activities the kids could do if they would get bored or done with the things you planned faster than expected.
- Let the parents know about your plans. Tell them if they need to bring some things with them: bathing suit, change of clothes, the clothes that the kids can get dirty in without any regrets(yep, no party dresses for a painting playdate).
- Find out about the disciplinary methods the parents of the invited kids use. Is it a time-out, no TV for 3 days, no desert? It would help tremendously if the parents of the invited children and you were on the same page about it.
- Have a talk with your child about being a good host, keeping your guests happy and entertained and SHARING.
- Be precise about drop-off and pick-up time.
If You Are a Parent of a Child Who Got Invited to a Playdate
- Make sure you know the family that invited your child well. Get their contact information written down. Leave the number they can reach you at any time.
- Ask if they need help. If yes, be helpful by cleaning some things up after the kids to keep the play area hazard-free. I mean it. If not - be very punctual about drop-off and pick-up time. People have things to do besides baby-sitting your child while you are enjoying your kid-free time so much that you forgot that you are 30 minutes late already. Either way the hosting parents will be glad that you are concerned.
- Bring some necessities from home. For little kids - diapers, baby wipes, favorite toy to cuddle in case of a tantrum, a snack. For older children - a snack will do. It is usually not specified but the hosting family will appreciate that.
- Do not bring a lot of toys! The child will forget about them and you'll be stuck with a tired and whiny kid afterwards. If it's absolutely unavoidable, let him/her choose one toy they'll be willing to share.
- Refresh your child's memory about behaving and manners, explain that different households have different rules which he/she needs to follow over at that house.
- Dress your child in comfortable clothes. Have a spare set just in case( for little kids).
- Do not forget to thank the hosting family for having your child over when picking him/her up ON TIME.
If You Are a Child Who Got a Playdate Invitation
- Say "hi" to the friend who invited you and his/her parents.
- Do not get upset when your Mom/Dad leaves. There is no reason for that. You are going to have a lot of fun and they'll be back to pick you up sooner than you know it.
- Every house has a different set of rules. Obey to the rules of the house you are playing at.
- No hitting. No spitting. No name-calling. No food throwing. And absolutely no tantrums! You came to have fun with your friend not to spend all your playdate in time-out.
- If there is anything or anybody bothering you, let the hosting parent know. Do not be afraid to admit if you are feeling sick.
- If you need help using the bathroom, let the hosting parent know.
- When you are ready to leave be polite and thank the host for the wonderful time that you had even if it was just O.K.
- If you really, REALLY enjoyed it, there is no reason to get all bent out of shape because parent came to pick you up. Just think about how much your Mommy missed you. And you'll probably be back unless you did all of the #4 .
- Say "goodbye" to the people who showed you such a good time.