A play date is an excellent opportunity for bonding amongst stay-at-home moms and their kids. The event can be low key with the host and one other mom, or a gathering of several SAHMs and all their children. Whatever the plan, here are a few tips that can help keep the “play” in the “date.”

Setting a Time for the Play Date

Play dates for babies and toddlers are typically set for the morning hours when kids are fresh. A host can offer to start around ten and most guests will need to get their kids home for a nap before one. Shorter get-togethers of around an hour or two are best since kids tire quickly.

Respect Allergy Guidelines

Many moms have to worry about a child who has severe allergic reactions. It’s easy to imagine how awkward it is for these moms to give the host a list of restrictions, but it’s their child’s safety that’s on the line.

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They can manage the environment in their own home, but are counting on hosts to follow any important restrictions to the letter when they come over for a play date. If a mom asks her host to wipe down the table where the kids will be eating or to avoid serving certain foods, the host can thank her for making you aware of the situation and assure her that this is no trouble.

Set Sharing Expectations

Before guests arrive, a host can explain to her child that friends are coming over. She will want to make sure her child understands that his friends are very excited about playing with him and his toys. The host can ask her child if he thinks he can share his things like his friends share with him at their homes. It’s a good idea to avoid conflict by putting a child’s most prized possessions away for the morning.

Set Guidelines for Where Kids Will Play

As guests arrive, a host can give them a quick tour of the home. She can point out the bathroom and any places the kids will enjoy playing. The host might also want to point out rooms that are off limits either for safety reasons or to protect delicate belongings. Setting up gates or latching doors ahead of time is another way to handle the issue.

Offer a Snack or Lunch

A host can make guests feel at home with coffee, tea, muffins, or even a light lunch. Providing food will keep the kids happier and it’s easy to keep conversation going with a new mom over a warm cup of tea.

Planned Play Date Activities

Hosts set the tone for play dates. Some moms enjoy getting together just to chat and share each other’s company. Other moms prefer initiating a few child centered activities like a craft or game. Each type of play date has its benefits. Moms will probably find themselves alternating between the two based on their moods.

Steer Clear of Conflict

Moms need to talk to other moms about the important issues in their lives. Unfortunately, many topics like getting babies to sleep at night. Breastfeeding, and discipline have potential to create controversy and hurt feelings. Hosts will want to watch for signs that their guests are growing uncomfortable. In the case of an awkward moment, they can take steps to tactfully redirect the conversation.

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Follow up With an E-mail

After the guests leave, hosts can shoot them quick emails to thank them for coming. They can let them know how much they enjoyed their company and mention any specific statement their children made about the fun they had with their friends that morning.
It takes courage to arrange a play date with a new mom. But that mom is probably just as eager to meet new friends and get out of the house as her host is. When hosts take the plunge, they’re bound to be booked with reciprocal invitations from grateful guests.
Other helpful tips to check out include etiquette for play date guests. How kids play at each stage of development, and how to help a shy child enjoy play dates