A successful playdate is great. First of all, kids love them. They get to play with other kids. Second, it gives the moms a chance to hang out with other adults, which is equally awesome. However, sometimes as a mom, I don’t feel like going to a park or playground. Occasionally, I just want to hang out at home and have my child entertained. Successful playdates at home aren’t as much work as you’d imagine. There are several steps you can take to make sure your next outdoor playdate is a hit.
Check the Weather & Plan Accordingly
Often, the weather can be unpredictable. Here in Michigan, it can vary greatly from day to day or even hour to hour. I have seen snow on the ground one day, and people walking around in summer clothing the next. When you are planning an outdoor play date, I find its best to check several sources for the weather, and kind of figure out an average forecast.
For example, I have an outdoor playdate scheduled for Monday. Here is what the weather resources are saying.
- App #1 – 77 degrees and partly sunny
- App #2 – 77 degrees and sunny
- Website #1 – 77 degrees and sunny
- Website #2 – 77 degrees and sunny
Based on those, it looks like my outdoor playdate will be safe from the elements. Its odd to me that they are all in agreement. Usually they differ at least a bit. I’ll also keep an eye on it through the weekend, in case anything changes. The rain held off and it ended up being a very successful playdate.
On excessively warm days, you will want to make sure to provide plenty of shaded areas for kids and parents too cool off. You may also want to have extra sunscreen on available in case anyone forgets theirs.
Have a Back-up Plan
Just in case the weather decides not to cooperate at the last moment, its usually helpful to have a back-up plan in place. Can you change the location to an indoor facility? Will you and your guests fit inside your home? Can you reschedule at the last moment? All important things to consider.
Another example I can give occurred last summer. I had a Rock Painting Party for toddlers scheduled. (Read about that HERE!) The weather took a turn, and though it was warm, it was very humid and threatening rain. I decided to continue with the party, and I cleared out space in my garage in case we had to duck in there for shelter.
Prepare the Yard
Prior to hosting your playdate, you will want to make sure your yard is in order. Make sure the grass is cut. Make sure anything hazardous is put away, or at least out of the reach of little curious hands. I always like to spray down outdoor toys before a gathering, just to wash away any dirt or bugs that might be hanging around.
Another way I prepare my yard for a successful playdate is to arrange the outdoor toys. I have a large yard and I like to spread the toys out since there is plenty of room. Which brings me to my next topic.
Have Plenty of Toys On-Hand
My yard is basically a toddler paradise. We have so much for my toddler. Most of it we got second-hand. We have been renovating our home for the last couple of years, and all our money was going into that. We wanted to make sure, since we couldn’t at the time afford fancy trips or outings, that our son would have plenty of fun things to keep him entertained at home.
Here are some examples of outdoor toys to keep kids and toddlers entertained:
- Ride-in Cars
- Water table
- Play House
These are some of the favorites in our yard. We are lucky enough to have multiples of some things as well. Plenty to keep numerous kids entertained for an entire morning or afternoon.
Keep a Cooler with Drinks
One thing that is very important when hosting a successful playdate is making sure there are plenty of beverages available. Especially on warmer summer days, small children can get dehydrated quickly. I have found that the easiest way is to keep a cooler filled with ice and cold drinks outside with us. This saves a lot of time for you, the host or hostess, from running in and out of the house constantly.
I also like to keep a variety of options. Some parents allow their children juice, and some do not. I always keep juice boxes and bottles of water. Plus, I like to leave room for whatever the parents may want to drink.
Snacks are a Must!
Another important ingredient to a successful playdate is having snacks available. All that fresh air, sunshine, and playing can make for some very hungry kids. And if there is swimming, I can guarantee the appetites will be monstrous.
Some of my favorite snacks to have on offer are:
- Fresh Veggie Tray
- Fresh Fruits, like Watermelon
- Individual Bags of Crackers, Like Goldfish, Cheez-its, Graham Crackers
- Chips and Dip
The sky is the limit on snacks. You can have whatever you’d like. These have always been the biggest hits for my playdates. Keep in mind that food allergies are prevalent, and you may want to check with the other parents attending to see if there is anything to be avoided.
Have a Potty Plan
Everybody poops, right? Children are going to need to use the bathroom, or have diapers changed. Have a plan for that. For example, have a spot inside where a mother can change a diaper already decided. Make sure the bathroom that will be used is kid-friendly and fully stocked with toilet paper, soap, tissue, and any other essentials.
Having a plan for potty time will save you a lot of time. You won’t be scrambling in the moment on where to have someone’s diaper changed or where the extra toilet paper is. Believe me, it will make your life easier, I promise.
Be Prepared for Clean-Up
Kids are messy. The like to get wet, play in the dirt, roll in the mud…anything that can create a mess for mom, it seems. Keep in mind what your playdate involves and plan ahead. If you are swimming, or playing with water, have plenty of towels ready for anyone who may need them. Consider warning parents attending to bring extra clothing if there is a chance the children will get wet or dirty.
When I hosted the Rock Painting Party, I made sure everyone knew to bring their children in old clothes, or clothing that they didn’t mind getting dirty. I had the hose and towels handy to wash down any young Picassos who got overly ambitious with the paint. Being ready beforehand will save you a lot of drama during your party, and ensure a successful playdate.
Have fun. Seriously, just relax and enjoy, mommas. Sometimes I have found that I get myself so worked up or stressed out about events and get-togethers, that I end up missing out on the fun. Don’t fall into that trap. It is what it is. If something comes up, you’ll deal. Life will go on. Just make sure to slow down and enjoy that time with your little ones or the other parents. You work hard and deserve it!
What are your favorite tips for hosting a successful playdate? What has worked for you, and what has failed miserably? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!