Quaker Oats sent us a play date kit complete with chewy bar snacks. I had two friends and their families over for a morning play date and adding that to the other boocoodles of play dates I’ve had over the years, here is my ultimate guide to hosting a play date.
Seems like a silly thing to write about. I mean honestly, how hard can a play date be? I’ll be honest… I used to avoid them like the plague. I love moms. I love kids. And I even like getting out of the house (sometimes), but often these so called play dates were chock full of work and stress and we all left cranky and I never thought they were worth it.
Of course it doesn’t have to be that way, so here are some ways to think about play dates so you actually look forward to them and maybe – just maybe – even institute weekly play dates.
1. Set yourself up for success.
Plan ahead for weather, snacks, diapers, location, and what exactly you plan (or don’t plan) on doing. I don’t mean take all the fun out of it, but don’t go to someone’s house with a pool without floaties, for example.
2. Go outside.
The best play dates I’ve gone on were outside. There’s a few reasons for this. The kids aren’t making a huge mess in your house or someone else’s. You can choose a fenced in area like a park or playground so you can actually chat with friends instead of chasing 18 month olds. And outside is just good. Plus they won’t spend the whole time fighting over toys.
3. Choose time of day wisely.
Afternoon play dates don’t happen for us because mine sleep in the afternoon. Sure they could skip a nap on occasion, but I’d hate to see how they behave at 3:30 pm with 6 other toddlers who have all missed their naps. That’s not a play date that’s community service.
4. Bring snacks.
I’m not big into letting kids snack all day long. Because of that I often forget to pack drinks and snacks because I think, “They’ll survive.” Which of course they will except I soon regret that idiot choice when everyone else is munching on snacks and mine are giving me dirty looks. Quaker Oats provided me with their Quaker® Chewy® Granola Bars which the kids loved. I didn’t know this, but they have 8 grams of whole grains in every bar and come in oatmeal raisin, s’ores, and chocolate chip flavors. Then for a drink I mixed White Grape Juice and Ginger Ale on the fly for some “fizzy.”
When we had our play date last week my friend actually made us moms Energy Bites that were awesome too. She’s given me her recipe which I’ll share because we snacked on these puppies for a few days in the refrigerator. Recipe below.
5. Prepare children on how to behave.
We think kids automatically know how to act all the time. They should be kind, courteous, yes ma’am, no ma’am, and share with smiles on their faces. In reality, they don’t always transfer what they know to happen at home with what should happen elsewhere. Remind about no hitting and kicking, etc. and be sure to give them boundaries. I’ve been known to say, “If you fight and whine and scream the whole time we’re leaving.” I look them in the eye when I say it and that’s enough for them to be on their best behavior. They do actually want to stay!
6. Do something where you aren’t the clown.
In the above picture we had a bubble machine, a boccie ball set, and all the normal toys in my “holding pen” in our back yard. The kids milled around and did their own thing and this is key. If you actually want to talk to your friends instead of refereeing every single thing going on, make sure there is stuff for the kids to do that doesn’t require your constant supervision.
7. Consider ages.
Most children will probably be similar ages on play dates during the week since older kids are in school. Kids will play better with others around their age and do realize that the 18 – 2 year old phase where they think every thing they set their eyes on belongs to them. Knowing what to expect will make things run smoother.
8. Take away troublesome toys.
Becky mentioned one way to cut down on sibling rivalry is to take away toys being fought over. This is true for play dates as well. If there’s a toy or activity they are all fighting over, can’t share, and are requiring your constant timer using supervision, just take the temptation away.
9. Find a cooperative activity.
In the play pack Quaker Oats sent my way they included a puzzle. We went outside so didn’t play this that day, but it turned into a great activity for my kids. Because they could cooperate while doing something together there was little fighting. Having an activity or game that includes everyone where they work together will help cut back on fighting. This may be as simple as building a sandcastle or painting a long butcher roll of paper.
10. Have set times.
This is particularly important if you’re having people over. By setting a clear time, say, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, you’ll be able to organize your morning and not feel bad when you start cleaning up around the kids as noon gets near. You don’t want a play date to become a stressful thing, and if you feel that you’re having to kick out others then you’ll be less likely to host again. Plus, the shorter they are the more you look forward to the next one. :)
1 cup Quaker rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup ground flaxseed or 1/2 cup crushed sunflower seeds
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup local raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together into balls and refrigerate.
Play date Giveaway and Chance to Win $25,000 Play Space Makeover
Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely by my blog, A Mother Far from Home.
1. Play date kit.
Quaker Oats has provided me with a play date kit ($100 value) to give away to one reader! I love this because this is a kit that keeps on giving long past the first play date. Oh, and for the bubble maker after you’ve run out of bubble juice you can dilute dish soap with water and it will keep on going :). To win, leave a comment below with your best tip for play dates and the winner will be chosen at random.
2. $25,000 play space makeover
Visit the www.ChewyKeepPlaying.com and enter for a chance to win that money to makeover some area in your home where the kids play. To enter you submit a photo of your family’s favorite play space and share how you’d like to see it made over and why.