There are two types of play dates – play dates where the parents are friends and the kids are forced to forge a friendship the other type is where the kids are friends and the parents are secondary to the interaction. You will know the difference because in the second scenario you’ll be referred to as “soandso’s dad”.
This post is about how to handle the second type of play date, the ‘hi, nice to meet you, welcome into my home stranger, please let this work and be fun.’
We have only just entered the foray of the second scenario and I personally had NO clue what to do. I’m still fumbling through it like a over-attentive waitress – forcing things at the kids and then tidying up immediately in case the parent I’ve just met thinks I’m useless or messy.
The first taste we had of this was when my son was 18 months old and it ended with my son dropping his nappy (I didn’t know he could take his nappy off) and showing the little girl who was visiting and her shocked mom his private parts. He then made a break from my grasp and ran out to the people painting our house and showed them how he’d learnt to wee standing up. Needless to say, I was mortified and we didn’t have another play date for a very very long time.
So now I’m back in the game. Somehow I won the lottery and have been invited to other mom’s houses for the play date. This is fantastic. This way I got to see what they do and how they manage the situation.
I’m also embarrassed to admit (for those of you reading this who know me) that I also siddled up to my son’s day care teacher one day and whispered ‘I’ve been invited to a play date what do I do? Do I go, do I drop and run, do I take something’. She laughed at me and made a few suggestions, I’ll include these below.
What I’ve learnt about play dates for pre-schoolers is this:
- For the first playdate you go with. I did not know this 🙂
- Mornings are best because the kids get far too excited and then get worn out from the excitement before the play dates began.
- If you don’t know the mum at all maybe meet at a park weather permitting so the kids have the option to play or not play depending on their moods and you don’t feel motified if they ignore each other for a bit.
- Healthy snacks are generally available – fruit, crackers, yoghurt, muffins.
- Have one thing that you know will take up some time, either an activity (play doh, drawing, swimming, car track, cup cake decorating).
- If it’s over lunch make sure you know what the child can or cannot eat.
- If parking near your place is confusing explain it to the mom coming.
- I always take something for the mom or the kids but that’s just me.
- Take some pics to commemorate and then swap with the other mom.
- The TV isn’t on at first 🙂 some moms do have music on though.
- Have a place in mind where you can sit and chat to the mom but still have the kids playing, it’ll make it easier to connect to the mom and keep an eye on the kids.
Don’t feel bad if the kids have a few moments where they decide they hate each other – it’ll pass and they’ll be mates again soon.