Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Art of the Play Date

Now that school is back in, my kids are coming home pretty much everyday and asking to have a play date with a friend.  Play dates are great.  It is fantastic for the children to make friends and interact with other children. I have a love -hate thing going on with play dates.  There was a time not that long ago when I simply could not host play dates.  When my twins were babies, they were either always eating, sleeping or having their diapers changed.  I could barely keep an eye on my own kids, let alone someone else's!  My goals were getting through the day and protecting nap times.  I am very fortunate that I have fantastic friends and live in a great neighborhood.  They welcomed my older children into their homes and I never felt like they were "keeping count"!  I am also fortunate that with four kids in our family, my kids have built in play dates! Now that the twins are older, age 3 1/2,  they want to have play dates of their own and I have new challenges.  Do I invite a friend over for each twin, do I just invite one friend over and have all three kids play together? But, three usually never works out!  What about the older kids, they need to have their friends over too. This is new territory that I am navigating here.  I am learning that for my 5 year old, it is best to have play dates in the morning before school.  She has afternoon kindergarten and is up by 7am.  It is a long stretch of time until the bus comes for her at 11:24am! Even better is to plan something on the mornings the twins are at school.  This way no one "bothers" her.  I do need to say that she and her friends are great sports and are always quick to include the twins in a game of hide and seek or Barbies!  For my twins, I think it would be best if they had their play dates when both of my older children are at school.  For my oldest, he is really limited to just after school and he is very good about playing XBox in basement, riding scooters outside or Lego's in his room - activities that my little ones have no interest in.

What about play date etiquette?  Is it up to you to correct someone else's child?  I really think that is a case by case situation.  If it is a "toy dumper", I usually let that go if it is age appropriate.  A two year old dumping out every toy bin in your house is much different than a 13 year old!  Obviously,  if the child is exhibiting inappropriate behavior (hitting, breaking legs off a barbie,etc.)  and someone could get hut (feelings or physically), definitely step in.  It is your house and you are the parent!  But if it is a case of toy squabbling, I usually let the kids work that out themselves.  Here are some tips that work for us in our house to help us prepare for the play date:

-Put away any toys that your child does not want to share.  If your child has a special toy or lovey and will freak out if another kids looks at it, let alone tries to play with it, put it away.  The blankie or American Girl Doll can survive for an hour or two on the closet shelf!

-Plan snack ahead of time and let your child be involved.  Also, check with the parent of the other children about any food allergies.

-Set a start time and end time.  Believe me, you may just be happy to know that the end time is coming!  If things are going well, give the other mom a call and you can always extend the play date.  We have done that and I always laugh when the mom is surprised that her kid is doing so well!

I would love to hear from you on what works for your family,  I would also love to hear how you handle play dates with multiples.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!!


  1. That is great advice. I will follow it when we have playmates over at our house. Thank you. The only way we have been able to do a play date is if someone comes to our house. I cannot watch four toddlers in someone else's home or at a park. We have only had a couple of play dates for this reason. Parents often meet at the park and it is not possible for me to watch four toddlers running in four directions (with or without playmates.) I look forward to doing more play dates when they are potty trained and able to stay together without running off.

    : 0 ) Theresa (Capri + 3)

    1. Thank you Theresa! It will get easier for you! My twins are now 3 1/2 and my son had his first play date this summer. With the twins I haven't really done as much for them as the older kids b/c they have each other! There was also a time when I didn't take my kids to the park for that reason - we had to be in very "controlled" settings!