Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ages & Stages: Tips to Having Successful Play Dates

Written by Megan from NEPAMom.com for GummyLump.com

Now that school is out for the summer and the warmer weather is here to stay it is important to make sure that your kids don’t just sit around inside for the next three months. One way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to plan play dates for your kids.

With a little planning and some clear expectations you can make sure your next play date is a successful one, and ensure that your kids have great time.

Here Are Some Tips for Having Successful Play Dates:

Don’t assume that play dates have to take place inside the house.
Younger kids love to play with water toys and run through the sprinkler on warm summer days. Just make sure to have the visiting child dress appropriately and take proper sun protection precautions and everyone can have a great time without the mess indoors.

Set clear expectations for what rooms and toys are off limits.
If you don’t want the kids playing in certain rooms, or you don’t want certain toys played with (like your kids favorite lovey or doll!) then make that known from the outset of the play date.  Put those favorite toys away in unused rooms, behind closed doors to prevent problems during the play date.

Make sure that you have clearly defined start and end times for the play date.
Nothing ruins a fun afternoon more than a child that melts down from being overtired.  Make sure that you have a pre-determined end time for your play date and give the kids heads up warnings that the time to go home is coming soon.

Make sure to serve snacks--but always check with parents about food allergies 
Personally I always like to serve healthy snacks like fruit and cut up veggies and water.  There is nothing worse than picking your child up from a play date all hyped up on sugar!

Don’t always assume that a play date has to take place at home.
When my oldest was a preschooler and I had both a toddler and a baby, play dates and the thought of preparing my home for one absolutely overwhelmed me.  It was then that I discovered that a play date on neutral territory was just as much fun as an in-house play date.  A friend with kids of similar ages as mine and I would often meet up at a local park when the weather was warm and sit back and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while our kids ran around and played. Everyone would go home tired and happy and looking forward to the next play date.

Don’t assume that just preschoolers need play dates.
Many parents think that play dates are just for the under 5 crowd but I think that organized play dates with friends is just as important for the school age crowd.  Play dates give your school aged children a chance to keep up with your friends during the summer months and maintain those friendships cultivated during the school year.

Happy playing!


Megan Wolff Galko, is the founder and owner NEPAMom.com.  Megan is a graduate of the University of Scranton and North Pocono HS. Megan has served as Deputy Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). She is also a former reporter for The Scranton Times and The Moscow Villager. She and her husband, Vince have five children.  They live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

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