Playdates are amazing…until it’s your turn to host. Then your guests get to leave with happily worn-out children while you’re left with a house that looks like a tornado just went through it.
To make sure your next playdate goes well for all involved – including you – consider doing these three things.
Invite with Clear Expectations: When you issue an invitation for a playdate, set clear parameters including the start time, end time, and whether you’ll be offering snacks. Kids are always looking for snacks and if you’re not prepared to feed them all, invite your friends to bring snacks for their kids. While we love to be flexible and welcoming and extend invitations like, “stay as long as you like,” mentioning an end time will prevent people from inadvertently wearing out their welcome, and make you feel less guilty about ending the playdate when your kiddo needs to go down for a nap.
Try: “We’d love to have you all over on Wednesday from 10-12! If you think your child may get hungry while you’re here, please feel free to pack a lunch for them. And we’ll end early enough to make sure everyone gets home in time for their afternoon naps!”
Enforce House Rules: A playdate doesn’t have to be a free-for-all. If your child (or other children) are breaking some of your house rules, don’t hesitate to kindly let them know. Help them identify what behavior is expected instead, and if you need, ask their parent to intervene. This will go a long way to keeping your home in reasonable condition – and will also help the kids to learn appropriate behavior.
Try: “One of the rules in our house is that we don’t throw the ball inside. If it gets thrown again we will put it away. Or would you like to go play outside and throw it?”
Make the Kids Pick Up: Five minutes before everyone leaves, announce it’s time to clean up and set a timer. This sets the expectation that the kids need to clean up after themselves – whether at their own home or someone else’s – and will do wonders to improve the condition of your home after everyone leaves. In fact, I’ve actually started implementing this when my elementary-aged child has his neighborhood friends over. And after I did it the first time, I kind of wondered whether they’d even come back. But you know what? They did – and the second time, they cleaned up their giant mess all on their own.
Try: “We’ve got five more minutes of play time, and then we’re going to clean up for five minutes. Let’s see how much you can get done before the timer goes off!”
A playdate should give you a break, not create extra work. With these tips you can feel confident that the next time you host your little one’s friends things will be a little less chaotic while they’re over, and a little less messy once they leave.
What tips do you have for a successful playdate?