If you are new to playdates you might not be aware of the play date rules. Playdates can be a wonderful way to break up the day and let them have fun playing with other kids. I know that doesn’t seem like it needs to have rules, but they do. Some playdates are very mellow and there aren’t many rules, others have quite a few rules you have to adhere to, or you don’t get to be included in future scheduled times.
Not all play dates are created equal. Some are way more laid back than others, so make sure to follow these rules when you are first starting out. I always suggest asking about the play date if parents stay or go (for older kids 5 and above). There are two types, so you need to know if you need to stay with your child or they prefer you to drop off and leave. Once you know which type of playdate, you can follow these rules below.
Unspoken Play Date Rules You Need to Follow
Food Allergies or Restrictions
If your child is lactose intolerant, allergic to peanuts, gluten-free, etc pack your snacks. Not all parents might not be aware of your child’s dietary needs to make sure to pack snacks and a drink. Now they might frown that you are bringing your own snacks, but if your kid is allergic it is the safest options.
When you host playdates it is important to have a snack and drink available. Some go without saying, so make sure to have snacks handy. Talk to parents and make sure no food allergies for their children, and then make snacks for each playdate that you host. If you are hosting where parents stay than make sure to have snacks for them as well. Don’t expect to be fed when you go to playdates, of course, snacks will be served for kids but not all hosts will serve adults as well.
Two Hour Max
Most play dates have a two-hour max limit. If you have children under three, generally you only want to stay for an hour. Older kids can make it two hours. Don’t overstay your welcome, around two hours or less ask your child to help start picking up and leave.
Host Play Dates
Don’t just pack your kiddos up and go to other peoples homes for play dates, make sure to offer to host as well. Play dates are give and take, and you need to do your part as well and host. If your home isn’t as nice then find a meeting place and have everyone come there to play.
If you are hosting consider having activities to keep and entertain the kids. This is a great way if the kiddos are fighting to try and offer a change of pace and let them do activities. Whether they be simple crafts or games, it helps break up time. When you are hosting it is up to you mostly to keep things running smooth. If the parents are there they can discipline their child but try and be the mediator in keeping things mellow and fun.
All kids must follow house rules, whether it is at another parents house or yours. Teach your child to say please and thank you, and to pick up after themselves. If the host says no shoes in the home, make sure to follow that rule and your child. When you go to leave have your child thank them for the time. When you are gracious and kind, and follow the rules you will be asked to come back more often.
Don’t even consider popping in a movie and letting the kids just sit down and watch it, no matter if it is snowy and cold outdoors. You have to find ways to keep kids entertained with toys and playing together. Play dates are meant to burn off energy and help your child learn to share and interact with others. So skip the DVD player, and make sure to have an assortment of toys available.
Drop Off Or Stay
Like I was talking about above, there are two types of play date that you can be a part of. One where all the parents stay the entire time you are at the play date, and then where you drop kids off and leave. Make sure you know which play date you are joining. If you are in the drop-off and go, make sure not to linger and just leave, and be on time to pick your kids up. Don’t stay chatting after, grab kids and get out. If you do drop your kids off and leave, hand over emergency contact information in case of an emergency.
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Wife and mother of twins. Founder of Pride & Joy Baby Planners and The Expecting Mamas Network.