A “play date” is a scheduled fun-and-play session between your kids and other people’s kids. It’s an important childhood activity where your children can learn what sharing, good manners, and friendships are.
When is a child ready for a play date like this? Observe your child and see if she already yearns for the companionship of other kids. That’s a sign that playmates are called for. In case your child is introverted, balance that by bringing her to playgrounds so she’ll see how fun it is to play with other kids. Pretty soon, she’ll start wanting playmates occasionally. And when it’s time to set that play date, here’s the best way to do it.
1. Set it at the right time and length.
Schedule a time for your children and their playmates when they’re all well-fed , wide awake, and alert. You can’t expect kids who are cranky, hungry, or sleepy to remain well-behaved for long. Also, try to keep the playtime no more than an hour to an hour and a half. Children will get bored—and may start crying or fighting.
2. Pick a safe place.
What’s the safest place for smaller kids? Your home, of course. You have complete control over your home, so you can remove or pad any breakable or sharp objects and edges. You can also do your chores and work while the children are within sight.
3. Invite the kids both you and your children are comfortable with.
Pick a playmate that your child already knows, and whose parents you know and trust (and whose contact numbers you have, in case of emergencies). A usual choice would be someone you get along fine with who already lives next door, or a relative.
Also, pick out playmates that both you and your children will enjoy having around, who have the same or complementary personalities.
4. Make sure all the kids are healthy.
dont’t schedule a play date if one of the kids (including yours) is sick. It’s not only because the sick child needs to recover; you could be exposing all the other kids to the same sickness.
5. Orient your children.
Tell your child or children when the play date is going to be, and who’s coming. Teach what proper “play date” manners are.
6. Prepare snacks.
Children are always hungry! Make sure they have enough delicious but nutritious food and drink on hand. (Make sure none of the kids are allergic to some of the food.)
7. If these are very young children, plan and supervise the activities.
In case this is your child’s first play date, or the children are very young, you’ll have plant out their play activities and supervise directly. But while you supervise the safety and plan the activities, allow the children to express their creativity and fun in whatever way they want. Watch them carefully as they eat, in case someone chokes or misbehaves. dont’t expect to discipline all the children to your liking, though. The best you can do is have a timer ready so the kids know when each activity is about to end.
8. Have garbage bins, trash bags, first aid, and other kiddie stuff ready.
You’ll find yourself cleaning up after your kids and the others afterward, so be ready for anything.