For parents of young children, adding a playdate to the family calendar is a breath of fresh air. They provide an outlet for conversations with other moms and dads, and an opportunity for children to develop social skills in a meaningful context. Little ones use their imagination while problem-solving and taking turns; grownups are able to share stories with their peers and enjoy a laugh.
Before heading out to the park or a friend’s house, refer to the playdate etiquette tips below:
- Make a point of engaging with other parents. Reaching out to others in a group setting encourages friendships for both you and your child. If you are feeling isolated, find a mother’s day out or community center where you can get your child involved as you meet new parents.
- Play nice. Keep an eye on your child to ensure they are having a great time and interacting well with others. Depending on their age and temperament, it may take a little while for your son or daughter to get comfortable. Set the tone by acting friendly, remaining calm and showing enthusiasm towards other little ones.
- Come prepared. Whether the kids are playing indoors or outdoors, it is helpful to arrive with a well-packed bag. You never know when you will need an extra pair of clothes, a bandaid or a snack to save the day. If your child has an accident or scrapes their knee, having all the necessary supplies will make it easier for both of you to recover.
- Do not compete. Although it is natural to be proud of your child’s accomplishments, constantly mentioning their above-average skills is one way to get booted out of future meet-ups. Focus on building friendly relationships with like-minded adults.
- Be a good listener. Often other moms and dads need a healthy outlet. Unless your input is requested, it is usually a better idea to keep your opinions to yourself. Although their approach might be different than yours, it does not mean it is inherently flawed. Respect your friend’s system of parenting and only provide suggestions when asked.
- Timing is essential. If you notice your child is nearing a meltdown or having a particularly difficult day, do not hesitate to head home early. Everyone will understand, and they have all been there. Similarly, if your child is getting over a cold or running a slight fever, it is never a good idea to potentially infect other children.
- Pitch in. As things are winding down, do not leave a mess for the host. If they are old enough, teach your children valuable life skills by having them take their toys back to the toybox. Your host will appreciate the kind gesture and will be sure to return the favor when it is their turn to visit your home.