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…

– 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…

– 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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JakiJellz
Motherhood The Real Deal

Lucy At Home

18 Responses

    • Nicole

      Yes they seem pretty harmless, but there's so much planning that goes behind them! Not to mention you're always waiting for THAT meltdown or tantrum to happen!!!

  1. Tracy Albiero

    It is funny how you need to plan ahead for playdates when they are little. It is important to learn to parallel play. #triumhanttales

    • Nicole

      Yes, it's only a playdate but there's so much that you need to think about, isn't there?:)

  2. kate

    This is so good! I won't lie, I HATE playdates unless they happen to be with Mum friends. But they are as you say a necessary evil. It's a relief when they get a bit older and get the whole 'how to play nicely' thing! #coolmumclub xx

    • Nicole

      Yes, it's a sort of love-hate relationship isn't it? I love the ones with mum friends too – i find it's more a relief for me, plus Little Man's occupied and happy! And agree, it's SO much easier when the kids play together nicely!

  3. Emma T

    We never had playdates when N was younger, apart from with NCT friends. Now he's older because I work it's harder to get playdates organised. So he's only really had them with friends who I'm friends with the parents too. But my tip is have a 'nice' child because they'll do you proud and other parents ask to have him come round over other children!

    #triumphanttales

  4. Talya

    Haha love the last point! I have learnt some of the don'ts the hard way…playdates can be seriously hard work especially at the toddler age! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub with this Nicole xoxo

    • Nicole

      Glad you enjoyed it Talya. And I'm with you on the fact that playdates are seriously hard work (at least for us mums)!

  5. Nicole

    So true, playdates seem so innocent and fun, but oh my god the stress sometimes! Thanks for reading lovely…

  6. Jaki

    Great tips – I must admit, they aren't my favourite part of parenting! Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales.

    • Nicole

      It's complex, isn't it? We want those playdates to just get some adult company (and so that we don't have to pretend play all the time), but the stress of it all sometimes…

  7. Lucy At Home

    I don't "hate" play dates but I definitely prefer to keep them to a minimum. I have a fellow mum friend who purposefully organises one at least once a day sometimes twice (one in the morning and one in the afternoon). I don't know how she does it – I find them exhausting! Haha #blogcrush

    • Nicole

      Oh my God, how does she manage that?! It sounds really really exhausting…

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