Anatomy Of A Play Date

I love a good play date. I can catch up with my friends while the kids entertain each other, I get to snack on sugary treats, and everyone naps well afterwards. Not all play dates are made the same, however, and there are several key components to keep in mind when planning a get together with a posse of littles.

Time Of Day
For morning play dates, it’s important to get the party started late enough that the big kids are off to school and the little kids have had had breakfast, but not too late that it’s nearly lunch time by the time the group is assembled. If you want to cram enough playing in before lunch time, ten am is a good time to start. That means everyone should plan on arriving at 9:30, as people traveling with children run about 30 minutes late. Babies like to poop when the car is being loaded up, and time needs to be allowed for fights about shoes. “Yes, honey. You have to wear shoes. No, they can’t be Mommy’s heels.”

Don’t be rude and show up when the host told you to come. She isn’t ready for you yet, because her kid peed on the floor and she still needs to brush her teeth.

For afternoon play dates, right after school or naps is a good time to kick things off, otherwise it creeps into dinner time. I actually like a dinner play date, as there is usually wine, unlike most morning play dates. Unless you are related to the host, or it’s during the summer, do not get together after dinner. Don’t you know it’s damn near bedtime?

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Play date or Saturday night?
If you can, put the kids to work. What? Gardening is fun!

The Spread
Even though everyone’s children will have eaten immediately before arriving at the play date, they will be starving as soon as they walk in the door. Shoes and coats will be dumped in the doorway, and snacking will commence. It’s important to have the two major food groups represented: crackers and fruit. Nearly any cracker is acceptable, with the obvious exception of any that have seeds, seasonings, or dark colored details on them. What I’m saying is, no fancy crackers. If you are confused by this, stick with Goldfish.

Every parent should have extra Goldfish on hand on for serving at play dates and for bringing to play dates. Donut holes make a great play date treat, too. I like that I can eat about 17 of them without anyone noticing, and it’s easy to blame it on the kids. If you are fancy or healthy, substitute a pastry of your choosing, and enjoy them while you judge my Dunkin Donuts Munchkins.

If you are hosting a morning play date, plan for guests like me, who will stay for lunch. Don’t worry…we’re not picky. We’ll eat whatever you have!

The Gear
A gigantic pile of dress-up clothes will keep both boys and girls entertained for quite some time. If you have more than three girls in attendance, you’ll need about 463 pieces of jewelry, otherwise there isn’t enough to share. If you have more than three boys, you’ll need the same number of weapons. Don’t get worked up over my gender stereotyping. Sometimes the girls play with the swords and light sabers, and the boys put the jewelry on, but those times are few and far between once the kids get bigger.

If there will be babies at the party, pack away the little pieces, and get out the Little People. Also, you’ll need about one bulk size box of Goldfish for every three babies. No, they won’t eat that many. Most will be spilled on the floor to be stepped on by a herd of children. Cheerios are also acceptable for snacking and smashing into the carpet.

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Playdate or Saturday night?
Play date rule #47: Couches aren’t for sitting.

Special Circumstances 
Don’t leave elaborate Lego creations out when little kids come over unless your five-year-old enjoys coming home from school and rebuilding his X Wing Starfighter, and seeing Hagrid’s Hut transformed into a pile of rubble.

If you have three little girls waiting for lunch and only one pink plate, keep that plate out of sight, unless you enjoy your lunch with a side of little girl tears. If it is a morning play date, have troughs of coffee. If it’s an afternoon or early evening play date, have wine.

A good play date is mostly calm with a splash of wild. Someone will take their clothes off, and here will be fighting. Someone will get hurt. Things will get broken, and there will be crying when it’s time to leave.

As long as it’s only the kids that do these things, consider it a success.

Someone's getting naked and a drink will be spilled. Play date or Saturday night?
I’m not above a little screen time if things get too wild.

What are your play date dos and don’ts?

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8 thoughts on “Anatomy Of A Play Date

  1. Ah, I miss those days. TI had to laugh, because what you wrote is so true…someone will end up taking their clothes off, food will get ground ino carpets…but what fun, and I'm off to vote again for you!

  2. "Don't be rude and show up when the host told you to. She isn't ready for you yet." HA! Straight up, sister!I cannot even begin to express how glad I am we are out of the "play date" stage. Now kids come over, they either go play outside or in their rooms, and we just hope they aren't in there brewing meth. KIDDING. But really…it gets a lot less complicated. Which is a damn good thing because the rest or the child rearing gig seems to just get harder.

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