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Six Simple Secrets to a Successful Play Date


photo by: Abigail Batchelder

As the mom of a toddler, play dates are a big part of my life. More so, since my daughter currently is an only child and being naturally sociable loves interacting and being with other children, her age.  Play dates are an easy and economical way to help her do that. Plus, being a work-at-home mom, play dates give me much-needed social interaction too.

But did you know that hosting kids at home can be a tad tougher than hosting  adults for lunch or dinner? Yeah. I know.

So, here are 6 simple tips to help you host a fuss-free, filled with happiness and lots of fun, play date.

1.Schedule Play Dates Appropriately

With toddlers and preschoolers, it is vital that they be fed and rested before they head out to play with other kids. Hungry and tired toddlers will be irritable, cranky and basically, not have any fun at a play date. So, choose the right time when scheduling a play date. I find that a lunch play date works really well. The kids come over before lunch, eat something, play awhile and then, head home to take their naps.

2. Make Play Dates Fun and Interesting

I’ve attended play dates where the kids didn’t know each other, the moms made no effort to introduce them and as a result, the children ended up either sticking to their mommies or playing by themselves. Kind of defeated the purpose of a play date. So, if you’re organizing a play date with new friends of your toddler, take the time to introduce them to each other. Let them get friendly, toddler-style before leaving them to their own world of play and fun.

3. Have a Safe Play Date

Toddlers can get into trouble…fast. So, while it may be tempting to sit and catch up with the other moms while the kiddos play in the next room or outdoors, stay watchful and alert. It doesn’t take long for accidents to happen. While I hardly ever schedule a play date with a family that I don’t know, if your toddler is friendly with a child at school and you don’t know the parents too well, I’d suggest hanging around a bit, getting to know them before leaving your toddler at their place for a play date. Ensure that all sharp, pointy or breakable items are out of the reach of toddler hands and that surfaces in the play area are cushioned or carpeted to soften falls.

4. Make it Easy to Manage Play Dates

In a group of moms, it isn’t fair if only one or two of them get to host the play date, each week/fortnight. Share responsibilities. If you have a busy work week or schedule, offer to take the kids out for ice cream post-play or send a snack or dessert, if the kids would be eating together as well. If space at your home is a constraint for hosting a play date {as it was in our case earlier}, offer to be play date guardian or take the kids out to either the museum or a park for a fun day out.

5. Be Creative with Play Date Ideas

Play dates shouldn’t just be about kids playing together indoors. Be creative and think out-of-the box. One of the most fun times my daughter had was at a splash pool party. Now that will make a really fun summer season play date! You can even, organize pizza making play dates or art and craft play dates. This is especially useful when you’re meeting the same group of kids every week or fortnight.

6. Be a Gracious Play Date

Since we’re talking a lot this month about toddler etiquette and politeness, it goes without saying that play dates are an easy way to teach your toddler about being a good guest. Saying “thank you” to the host parent and child at the end of the play date and using good table manners while eating their snacks or meal are just some occasions to learn and demonstrate good manners. 

Also, it is important that as a parent, we too, display good manners and graciousness. If you’re present at the play date, keep an eye on your toddler and gently divert his attention when you feel a tantrum coming on, help the host parent with serving snacks, activities for the kids and any other chore. In case, you’re leaving your child at someone’s home, do be on time to pick up your toddler and always ask the host if your little one was alright.  

 How do you make organizing play dates for your preschoolers fun and fuss-free?



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  1. For me 2 hour play dates work really well. It seems to be a great amount of time for the little ones. It is looking beautiful here on your site!! Have a wonderful day!

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Hi Wendy, thanks for sharing. I think 2-hours is a great duration for a playdate. I should try that too. Ours usually stretch into about 3 or so hours. Thanks for appreciating the new look. Credit does go to the designer,she’s lovely!

  2. Great tips! Most days it’s just the two of us at home. It was a very long winter since traveling was difficult due to snow. My two year old is so accustomed to playing alone, that she does so even when we have guests. It’s frustrating! She’s friendly and excited to see her new friends, but ends up playing alone. Our last play date started off great, she tried to interact with the other kids and was really enjoying herself, but her cousin got a little rough on several occasions and she ended up playing alone until she fell asleep on the sofa.

    So, I’m wondering, how do you handle a situation where one of the guests doesn’t play so nice?

    (stopping by from Share your Sunday Best)

  3. Love it.
    Seeing as how R is an only child and her and I are both extroverts play dates are a major part of our life. We love hosting them and attending them, although these days I’m not invited which I try not to be jealous about :)
    We always scheduled 2hrs and tried to be outside whenever the weather intended, often meeting at local parks.

    Love a good playdate.

  4. Good to find your blog, I’m stopping by from Share your Sunday Best. For me, one of the things that makes playdates work is being clear and open about handling any discipline issues and making sure the other mom is on the same page as far as how we will handle things. I am a homeschooler and we have a couple families we play with regularly, so it’s been good for us to talk about this a lot so our kids understand how to behave and what’s expected, and so we moms don’t worry about stepping on each other’s toes..

    • The Mom Writes says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Alissa! I think this is a great tip.. Till now, we’ve been fortunate to have playdates with moms and kids who’re pretty much the same as we are when it comes to discipline and stuff. But I’m going to keep this in mind now that we’ve moved to a new neighborhood and will have a new set of families to meet with.

  5. Thanks for sharing the great tips! I wouldn’t have thought to schedule a lunchtime play date, but I am pretty new at the whole play date thing. :)

  6. I always give some quality time to my daughter well, at least 2hours of play date everyday. I am very happy to see that she is enjoying and she felt really love.

  7. Great tips, thanks for sharing it.

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