Rules for the Perfect Playdate
In my 4 + years of parenting, I’ve had my fair share of playdates, enough to know the ins-and-outs of them as well as what makes the perfect playdate and what is a recipe for disaster.
Now, before I divulge my profound knowledge (if you’re a mum, this is considered profound knowledge), let me digress a bit. Playdates are – and have always been – a point of contention between stay-at-home-parents (I use the term stay-at-home because it is these parents who more often than not are involved in playdates). Some love them. Some hate them. Some pretend to love them but actually hate them. But most agree that whatever your emotions towards a playdate, they are necessary for your own sanity and for your child’s development.
Why the dichotomy you ask? Because while the dream playdate would involve two children happily playing amongst themselves while two adults chat over a HOT cuppa and some cake, the reality is quite different. The two children often fight over the same toy/ one accidentally pushes the other over leading to a huge meltdown/ one is cranky and that often takes a nasty turn…
So in order to obtain the perfect (or as close to perfect) playdate, here are a few do’s and don’ts that you must follow.
– Do put away your toddler’s favourite toy/ soft toy (especially if he is too young to know how to share). There will be the world’s biggest tantrum if your guest’s toddler so much as touches your little one’s favourite toy. There couldn’t be a more apt time where it’s better to be safe than sorry!
On another note, remember this is NOT the best time to teach your already upset toddler about sharing. He will simply scream his lungs out, and make you look stupid or like a bad parent.
– Do keep easy-to-eat snacks/ lunch such as fish fingers, chicken nuggets, carrot sticks with hummus and popcorn. Finger foods are easier to eat and will result in less battles of wills. Remember, a child on a playdate only wants to play, not eat. Don’t attempt fancy dishes that require the children to sit in one place and eat with a fork and spoon. That is NOT going to happen. Keep juice. Always keep juice.
– Do keep seemingly dangerous toys out of sight (if you have a son, I’m talking swords, bows, arrows). Two excited four-year-olds with plastic swords in their hands doing pretend fighting will eventually lead to one getting hurt. The rest of the playdate will then be history.
– Also do keep small LEGO pieces/ models away because if they accidentally break during the playdate, you will spend the rest of the playdate either finding the missing pieces or fixing the bloody things. Not your idea of fun.
– Do use the pending playdate as bait for your child to do something you want. Threaten to cancel it if they don’t oblige. Are you even a mum if you don’t do these kind of things?
– Don’t invite a friend your child doesn’t much like or isn’t interested in, assuming the playdate will help them bond. It won’t – little children are quite adamant that way! Things will just be awkward…
– Don’t tell your child about the playdate too much in advance (especially if it’s their best friend) otherwise you will have to answer the ‘Is my playdate today?’ question 17 billion times before the actual playdate.
– Don’t have (too much) wine with your mum bestie who happens to be the mother of your child’s playdate. Because if a tantrum or fight ensues, you will need to be a 100 per cent ‘present’. Besides, that’s not how you would like the after-effects of your wine to taste. Stick to tea and coffee. The caffeine will keep you’ll on guard…
Do you have any other tips, dos or don’ts for the perfect playdate? I’d love to know about them in the comments…
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