It used to be that when a child wanted someone to play with they'd say, "Mom, can I have _____over?" Nowadays even three year olds say, "I want a playdate!"
Over the last couple of months, five-year old Kenz has started using the new term for having friends over, " Nana, my friends and I want to set up a playdate."
OK. Not totally sure what this entailed, I left it up to her mom (my daughter).
But...with the busy work schedule my daughter has (and our bigger yard) she bounced the ball back to my court and delegated the initial playdate to me.
The first thing a grandma has to know about playdates is that--- the moms come over, too. And they bring the sisters and brothers of the child that is coming to play. For this reason, it's important to have your house child-proofed for younger children. You might also want to have something to give the moms, like a cookie or a cup of tea. When I offered a mom something to drink, she replied, "No, thank you, I brought my own water." Bringing your own fluids might be an unspoken rule of playdates, I don't know.
I made our rules clear to Kenz before her friends got her. "I don't want anyone playing in my room or hiding in the closets."
I worry about spiders and things falling on them in closets and my room is... well, it's my room. I had to smile when Kenz said, Nana, why don't you put up a sign that says--- off-limits? I didn't want to go that far, so I told her to pretend there's an invisible sign.
Next, you might want to consider starting with one or two friends. I was worried that if Kenz invited one, none would show up, so we invited three. Two showed up and the big sister of one. They all played well together, it went fine, it went great. But, for some children one on ones might be more fun. And they could get to know each other a little better.
On the list of playdating basics is--- deciding on a time span. Ours was 1-4 PM. If I had said 3 o'clock, the children would not have been ready to go home, but then again it was shortly after three when we had a meltdown, someone got bonked with a water balloon, there were tears, and hurt feelings. But, that blew over and everyone forgot about it within ten minutes.
If you have a three hour playdate or even a shorter one, it's a good idea to have a craft table. It can be the heart of the playdate, a place for the kids to come back to--- for snacks and centering.
Shortly after the friends arrived they made visors, decorating them with foamies and glitter glue. These creative hats served a dual purpose and protected their cheeks from the sun. Later they made books with the same materials and white paper.
Now that we've broken the playdate ice, I'm looking forward to future ones. It's fun to get to know the moms and you don't have to feel like you are the only one directing traffic. It's a team effort.
There is something very cool about this playdate concept afterall.