Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Prepare for an In-home Play Date

When I was a new parent to Miss M, there were several things about parenting that I didn’t know. I didn’t know how hard it would be to try to nurse a baby (never did work with M). I didn’t know how truly active one little child could be. I didn’t know that there would be play dates, even when the kids were still babies.

The first few times M and I were invited to another person’s home for a play date I had no idea what was expected of me. Should I bring my own snacks and beverages? How long should I stay?

These first play date anxieties were eased by the fact that it wasn’t just M and I that were gathering with one other family. There were several mothers and babies…and later toddlers…that got together regularly. I observed at these first play dates so that I would know what I should do when it came to be my turn to host the gathering.

So, here, some tips for hosting a play date.

  1. Provide a small snack. Preferably for both the kids and the parents. One of the first snacks I served for the parents was a veggie pizza. It was tasty and we could delude ourselves into thinking it was totally healthy even with the gobs of cream cheese. The kids will be happy with a few Goldfish crackers.
  2. Make sure you have extra sippy cups in case someone forgets theirs.
  3. Once the kids get old enough to rat you out you probably should stop serving alcohol. (Around age 3.)
  4. Put away any toys that your child is currently loving too much to share.
  5. Suggest that your child start cleaning up when you’re ready for the play date to end. (If you’re at the play date, suggest that your child help clean up too.) If the kids are toddlers, you’re pretty much on your own cleaning up the disaster area. Just remember that when you’re at someone else’s house you’ll get to duck out without cleaning up too.
  6. If there will be older kids along with babies, make sure all the little pieces of Polly Pocket gear and Legos are in rooms that the babies can’t get to and insist that the older kids play with these items in that other room. It’s no fun for a mom of a mobile baby or toddler to be watching every second to make sure her child doesn’t choke on Polly’s evening wear.
  7. Be ready to open baby gates for those of us who can’t figure every style out easily.
  8. Generally, the TV should be off for the duration of the play date. We didn’t get together to watch TV. Music is fine, as long as it’s kid-appropriate. Now is not the time to play your explicit lyrics selections.
  9. If there will be babies or toddlers who crawl on the ground or are prone to put stuff in their mouths, by all means, vacuum before the play date. Older kids only? Wait and vacuum after they leave.
  10. Remember that the other moms are mostly just happy to be out of the house and chatting with friends. Don’t stress out.

These are some of the guidlines that I've found work for me! What would you add to the list?

4 people like me!:

mayberry said...

That is a great tip about the baby gates. I have been trapped many times and once I almost fell down someone's stairs because I tried to hurdle a gate!

for a different kind of girl said...

Even now when my youngest son gets invited to a play date, I stress out! When they happen here, I think I have to be a cruise director and have all sorts of fun things planned for the time the friends are over. Sometimes playing is a lot of work!

chelle said...

These tips are great!
I would include to let the kids play free ... they will come up with their own ideas!

Madeline said...

Great tips. #10 is the key. If you find yourself in a playgroup full of women who are just trying to outdo each other and keep up with the Jones's then find a new playgroup. Playgroups are more fun when you're hanging out with other relaxed moms.

Blog Designed by : NW Designs