Megan Gates - There’s no doubt that playdates are beneficial to kids. No matter how old your children are, playdates encourage sharing, taking turns, and socializing with others. But when it’s time for you to host the playdate, it can be challenging to know what to do! While there’s no need to throw a party-like atmosphere, a little preparation can go a long way.
There are a few things you’ll want to handle prior to the playdate to ensure that you get started on a good note. First, make sure your child puts away any toys that he or she doesn’t want to share. You may also want to place a few activities within reach for the kids, such as those that encourage them to play together. Good examples include arts and crafts, puzzles and board games. And of course, make the playdate suitable for the ages of the children. If you’re inviting a toddler, 45 minutes is adequate. Even older kids can get overtired, so limit the playdate to 2 hours or less.
One of the best places for a playdate is outside! Not only do you minimize a messy house, but being outside always seems to make kids play better. Don’t think you need to arrange an outing at the park, either. Open up the sandbox, play a round of catch or drag out the soccer nets. This fall, it's fun to rake leaves and jump in the piles! Have fun treats on hand such as popsicles, frozen lemonade, apple cider, or fresh fruit slushies. You can even let the kids help make some of these fun treats.
While outdoor playdates are always a hit, the weather may not cooperate. And some kids simply don’t enjoy what the outdoor has to offer. As long as you don’t mind the mess, opt for an arts-and-crafts playdate. Take out the play-doh, fun cookie cutters, and plastic utensils. For added fun, bake the kids’ creations so that they harden. If you have an easel, let children paint with tempera paints. Or, simply set out coloring pages that can be printed online for free, along with crayons and markers.
You can also bake treats with the kids and take pictures to email to the other child’s parents. Have the ingredients for cookies or brownies measured out. Then let the kids mix the ingredients and wait for them to bake up. Just be sure that the child you're hosting doesn’t have any allergies you should know about. You can also let the kids pick their own ingredients such as white chocolate or milk chocolate chips, dried fruits, and different colored sprinkles.
If you have an active playdate on your hands, encourage the kids to build a fort. Drag out blankets and pillows, as well as old boxes and containers. Let the kids use plastic dishes and pots and pans to “cook” with inside their fort. Or let the kids put on a dress-up show and provide them with fun clothes, shoes, and jewelry to inspire their imaginations. Take pictures, upload them to the computer, and you can all make a slideshow with music.
To bring the playdate to a close, clean up the toys and set out a quiet activity such as books.
Megan Gates is an active blogger who provides written work to the blogosphere pertaining to New York Real Estate, Suffolk Rentals, home improvement and the latest architecture, design and fashion. Follow her on twitter @MEGatesDesign.