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6 Ways to Pull Off a Perfect Play Date
Keep it short. The longer the play date, the greater the chance for conflict. Test the waters, especially with new friends. Try one hour for 2- and 3-year-olds, one to two hours for 4- and 5-year-olds, and two to three hours for older children. Give parents definite pickup times when they drop kids off.
Sharing is caring. Before playmates arrive, explain to your child how a host behaves and why it's fun to share toys and games with others. If there could be a potential sharing problem, allow one or two "favorite" toys to be put out of reach during the visit.
Provide structure. Set the stage with kids that the play date is not a free-for-all. Share rules of the house to set expectations (e.g., putting old toys away before playing with new ones or no jumping on furniture). Let kids also know about timelines (e.g., this game can be played for 30 minutes or snack time is at 2:00 p.m.).
Attack the snacks. Keep snacks simple: crackers, cheese, fruit and juice boxes are perfect. Check with parents first about known food sensitivities or dietary limitations, so you can plan meals or snacks accordingly.
Timeout on tech. The best play dates are about playing. Limiting (or eliminating) technology or small-screen time encourages children to practice interpersonal skills, making them better playmates and friends as they grow. Keep kids busy with planned activities.
Prepare for pickup. A heads-up, like 10- and 5-minute warnings, can help kids mentally shift into parent arrivals and saying goodbye. Involve the kids in light clean-up duties for toys and games.
These tips will help ensure your hosting comes off without a hitch, and everyone looks forward to next time.
Sources: Parents.com, The Spruce
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