Last week, I asked for ideas for playdates, as they can be a lot of work to arrange. Veera Mylapore reached out with some really awesome ideas. Here's her guest blog post. I've added some formatting to make it easier to read online.
With an only child, I devote about 23% of my waking hours pursuing the next play date. This also intersects with my need to find fun things to do around town!
Keep casting a wide net
Don’t take anything personally
This goes with the above, everyone is busy, or are less techie, it’s not personal if folks don’t get back to you, just keep casting a wider net. Also, we think our kids are amazing and delightful, and they are, but there has to be a mutual groove.
It’s like dating, treat the kids well when you host
This is sort of for older kids, but I’ve learned (especially having a daughter) that part of what we are modeling in playdates is a) how to treat our friends of course, but also b) how we expect to be treated. For example, if we are asking a kid out to a special event, we pick them up and drop them off at their home. We also pay for the ticket and food/incidentals as we are the inviter. This is personal, I’m sure everyone will do this differently, there’s no rule – but this is not something my family did, but I have found that i enjoy doing it and showing my daughter how we nurture others that we care for.
Relax – it’s no big deal!
This slightly contradicts the above, but I used to worry about hosting and having the right food, a cleaned up house, etc. I have let that go over the years and just had fun. The kids never care – the most important thing is getting them together!
Meet in a neutral location
When I was meeting up with new families, we would often meet in a park or a café. For some, this just feels more comfortable to start the playdates. Especially if you, like me sometimes, can feel shy about having people over to your home when first getting to know a new family.
Feel free to social engineer
I’m sure some would challenge this, but I feel like there is so little time in life that I really focus on the subset of my kids’ friends who have parents with which I can relate and imagine enjoying their company too. This then becomes a double connection and is really fun.
Life goes on
Homework/Instrument practice – if it’s an after-school playdate, I am that annoying mom who forces the kids to do homework before playing (I get sign-off from the friend’s parent first if I’m going to ask them to do hw too). Shockingly, the kids don’t seem to mind and actually I think they have fun doing homework with a pal. I would also (when kid was younger) make her do her instrument practicing before playing with friend. Friend would hang out in living room reading or whatever.
We build up friendships from creating shared memories together, so it’s important to not just do one playdate with 20 different kids but rather do regular get togethers with a small group that seem to gel with your kid. And boredom counts, we don’t need to entertain the kids, they can just hang and make up stuff to do themselves.
So, how do you make playdates work for you? I'd love to hear your ideas. Write me back. :)