Playdates are supposed to be fun. Indeed, they’re an avenue for busy parents to ensure their children get regular social interaction and a way for the entire family to forge new friendships. So what’s the best approach when opportunities arise for doing just that? Here are some tips when heading in, so playdates are seamless and, well, yes, fun.
Because Parents Can Be Shy, Too
Not every parent is a social butterfly. For the socially anxious, accompanying their kiddo on playdates can be pure torture. Evan Porter, founder of the blog Dad Fixes Everything, tells Parentology, “I’m a serious introvert, so I definitely find it challenging keeping up with my extroverted daughter’s need for non-stop social interaction.”
His tip for introverted parents, or anyone with social anxiety, “Offer to host and supervise the playdate solo. Toddlers and older kids will be pretty self-sufficient and can play mostly by themselves. I guarantee their parents will be happy to have a break.”
There are playdates when parents of all the children involved are present. When children are preschool age, mom or dad will usually stay and visit with the other parent while the little ones have their fun. This can also be a way to scope out a new hosting family.
As kids grow older, there comes that moment when a child is left to play under the supervision of their friend’s parent. Some parents find the thought of leaving their child alone at someone else’s house creates even more anxiety.
A recent survey done by The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital reported on parent’s varying approaches to playdate invitations. If they did not know the other family well enough, 43% said they would stay for the date, and 22% said they would simply decline the invitation.
It is the rare parent who will just drop their child off at a stranger’s house. The Mott survey received responses from 84% of parents who said they would attempt to meet the other parents before the playdate.
The reasons parents gave for being reluctant to accept an invitation from an unfamiliar family included:
- Concern about proper supervision
- Inappropriate language
- Safety concerns
- Dietary concerns
Questions begin to whir — is the environment safe environment, will there be healthy snacks that don’t contain allergens, even, is this is a household where swear words are casually thrown around? Reasonable questions to ask before a playdate where your child is going to fly solo:
- What is the plan for the date?
- Will they be staying in the house or going elsewhere?
- Are seatbelts/car seats required and available if they go somewhere in the car?
- Who will be responsible for supervising the children?
- If they stay home, who else will be in the house?
- Will the kids have access to the
- What kind of internet safety measures are in place?
- Are there any guns in the house, and if so, where are they kept?
- What are the rules for TV time? Are movie and video game age guidelines followed?
- Are their pets?
- Will they be eating?
- Is there a swimming pool or hot tub?
- Is there a trampoline?
Questions the hosting parent will want to ask include:
- Are there any medical conditions to be aware of?
- Are there any dietary restrictions?
Planning and open communication will help ensure your child’s playdates will go smoothly. And everyone has… fun!