As your kids get that little bit older, you might want to think about organising some play dates – a great way to pass a Saturday or Sunday and to help them (and maybe you!) nurture friendships that could last a lifetime.
If your child is at school, and they’ve mentioned the names of certain friends there they seem to enjoy spending time with in the playground, maybe it’s time to offer an invite of an afternoon at your home together, or maybe a local park or playground if there’s some winter sun!
With people having such busy lives though, finding a time you can all meet up isn’t always that easy! And how much should you prep for the day? Worry not, we’ve got tips here on how to get a date in the diary and ensure it’s fun for everyone!
“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman
First off, find a date and time in the calendar that will work for you – and, if possible, try not to make it too far ahead as a few weeks can seem like forever to an excited kid! We’d also advise putting an end time on the invite too, eg 3pm to 5pm – so it’s clear to everyone how long the date will last.
If you know the parents of the child you want to invite, sorting a play date out shouldn’t be too hard, as you can hopefully do it face to face in the playground (if they’re at the same school), and agree on a day and time that works. If you’re unlikely to bump into the child, create an invite and ask your child to pass it on to their friend to give to their parents/ carer.
We’re well aware that bits of paper can go missing, so be sure to ask your child if they passed the note on, and be prepared you might need to have a couple of copies handy in case one goes astray! Suggest a time and day, or maybe even a couple of alternatives – and include your address and phone number for them to RSVP and suggest another date if the one/s you’ve given don’t work.
If you know the parent/s or carer of the child who’s coming over, you might be happy for them to stay and have a coffee and chat while the kids play. If you don’t know them, it could be a nice opportunity to get to find out a bit more about them.
But if you’re happy for them to leave the child/ren and go, let them know at the beginning that they’re free to go and come back at a set time, or stay for a tea/coffee and then go and come back: they might just appreciate the kids-free time to run a few errands!
“There’s something about childhood friends you just can’t replace.” – Lisa Whelchel
If you know kids like we do, you’ll be aware that they’ll almost certainly want to eat something in a two to three hour period. So don’t get caught short with nothing in the kitchen cupboard!
Keep it simple – fruit pieces, carrot and cucumber sticks or popcorn are healthier options, though of course it’s really up to you. And of course, do make sure you know about any dietary requirements beforehand.
If you’re at all worried you could always ask parents/carers to provide the children with a snack to keep them going, then you’ll know they’re eating approved snacks only!
Perhaps you know that the kids on your playdate are happy to keep themselves occupied without any set plans, and, if so, you might want to skip this step. But if you’re looking after kids who like a little more direction in their day, you might want to timetable in a few games or activities.
These could be really simple things like a drawing/painting session, backyard games or a board game session (choose simple games that don’t require learning too many rules!)
While arranging play date can, for some, seem like quite an operation, it will mean a lot to your kids and hopefully, watching them having a seriously fun time will be worth the organisation!
And once you’ve done it a few times you’ll get more used to all the things you need to think about, so hopefully, it will eventually become a smooth task, and you can revel in what a brilliant day you’ve provided.
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