“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” -Plato
Organizing a successful playdate is an exercise in anti-planning.
This is not a birthday party, a job interview, or a bat mitzvah. Playdates are fun, organic — can be messy — and will benefit and teach you more about your child than you could ever imagine.
Mom meet-ups, your local baby-and-me classes, the park: there are endless ways to connect with peers in your neighbourhood who have kids at similar ages and stages as yours. Making playdates a part of our weekly routine means my daughter gets exercise, builds her imagination, and is advancing her physical social, and emotional development.
Location, location, location! The beauty of a play date is that it can be held almost anywhere. Parks, local gymnasiums, or one-another’s homes are great places to have your little people get their sillies out. For me, safety and the ability to supervise without smothering are the only elements that really matter when choosing a playdate location.
I love to use my own home because I know that we have loads of fun and educational toys that will keep little hands busy and little minds occupied (while the moms actually take a moment for adult conversation!).
Keep it simple! If the playdate isn’t at your house, it’s a great idea to bring one fun item for the kids to play with, just like you would for a doctor’s appointment or any short, public outing. The latest craze at our house is the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Love to Play Puppy, which the generous folks at Fisher-Price were kind enough to send to us. Our puppy is helping reinforce the names of body parts (squeeze his ear and he will say "ear!"), and even promotes interaction with phrases like "hug me" (my daughter is quick to oblige)! We are just starting to sing the ABC song regularly now, and our puppy also happens to know the words...how convenient!
You should choose a playdate toy that lets the kids explore and learn on their own. Something with buttons, music, and other interactive features means you don’t have to be a helicopter parent throughout the fun. Let the kids explore on their own!
Throw in a few simple snacks for the thirsty and hungry players, and you’re set. Seriously. That’s it. Keep it simple.
If you’re headed to someone else’s house for the playdate its nice to bring a treat for the grownups to share — a special coffee or a batch of yummy muffins. Adult conversation is a lovely playdate perk. Sharing challenges and successes can cast a positive light on some of the tougher times in parenting. Mentoring one another through sleep training, food introduction, teething, and tantrums helps to smooth the bumpy times. Mommy wars are a non-issue when you find the right playdate mates.
In the end, playdates are almost as much about you as they are about your baby’s learning and development. Your sanity. Your connection with your child. Understanding her and how she plays and interacts with others and the world. Does she like singing? Dancing? Listening to stories? Active play? Being with others? Being in charge or happy to follow the lead? Playdates help you play better together at home as you recreate the fun your child and her friends had together.
I know my little girl is friendly, loves to hug, is quick to anger (and forgive), and is cautious in new physical situations. These are things I certainly wouldn’t have learned so soon if it hadn’t been for the wonderful playdates she has been a part of.
Who said learning can’t be fun? Everyday play helps babies explore and discover the world around them and engaging toys can be a part of that experience.
To discover more about the power of play and to encourage your baby’s natural sense of wonder, visit Fisher-Price® Laugh and Learn™. You can also find Fisher-Price® Laugh & Learn™ toys at Walmart and Toys “R” Us.