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Planning your child’s first playdate can be difficult. You want to make it something fun, but you don’t want to spend too much time stressing about every detail being perfect. Much like with early birthday parties, the most important thing for the child is that they have fun. Because years later, your child probably won’t remember his or her first playdate. But they might’ve kept their first friend, and made lots of fun memories.
So if you can’t decide what to do, or if you’re worried about whether or not everything is perfect, just try to think about making things fun. And if you’re in need of tips or stuck on ideas, here are a few sure-fire ways to help with a playdate that will be fun for everybody.
7 Tips for a First Playdate
1. Utilize Public Places
Although you may be the kind of person who is most comfortable entertaining in your own home, or the kind of person who loves to go other places and be entertained, it’s a great idea to use public places like zoos or parks for first playdates. These places provide lots of room for children to run around and exercise while they play, but they also have controlled areas where active playing is encouraged and safe.
Also, there’s no pressure on anyone to clean their house, make nutritious snacks, or plan perfect and entertaining activities. It’s an easy and stress-free way to get to know your child’s friend and his or her family, and it can be educational for your child as well!
2. Car Wash
This idea is particularly good for when it’s hot outside. Gather up all of the plastic toy cars and other vehicles, fill up a bucket with warm water and baby soap, and let the kids go to town with a couple of sponges.
This is a great activity for kids because it very hands on and fun, and it’s messy without actually requiring a lot of clean up. In addition, you’re cleaning old toys that might be collecting dust in the toy box.
This kind of playdate can get a little bit messy, so it may have to be saved for a slightly older age group, but it’s an idea that never fails to capture little ones’ attention. Bake something yummy and small that the kids can have for a treat after it’s all done, and teach them basic baking skills such as mixing and decorating! Be careful to pay close attention to what they’re doing, though, as this kind of activity can become very messy!
4. Get Silly
One of the fastest ways that children form bonds and become comfortable with each other is through laughter. Do something ridiculous like putting a skirt on your head or shoes on your hands, and they’ll be absolutely tickled. And once one thing has them giggling, it won’t be hard to keep things going and get them playing and laughing together comfortably.
5. Hide-And-Seek! Kind Of…
At young ages, children aren’t very good at Hide-And-Seek. At first, they can’t count, and then you run into the problem of them losing patience with hiding and jumping out and wanting to be found. Try hiding small objects around the child safe areas of the house and letting the children search for them. This will take up a bit of time, and it’s a version of the game that they can play together.
6. Good Old Fashioned Fort
Especially when the playdate is winding down into naptime or when your child’s friend is sleeping over, it’s a good idea to build a comfy fort out of sheets, blankets, and pillows. If you add a couple of lights and some bedtime snacks, it’s the perfect place to read stories and relax. This promotes a love of reading while also encouraging children to use their imaginations and disconnect from technology.
7. Home Movies
Another way to encourage children to relax is to put out some healthy snacks and settle in to watch a movie. Finding a movie for a couple of children to watch is about as easy as having a Netflix description, so if you’re looking for a relaxing activity or just a way to get a couple quiet moments to yourself, create a tiny movie theater in your own living room!
You can always find different playdate ideas from other parents, Pinterest, blogs and even your pediatrician at your local pediatric urgent care might be able to shoot you some ideas that are both safe and fun.
About the author:
Kate Stefanski is a freelance writer and professional student who contributes articles and advice on a variety of topics affecting students and families.