Do you host playdates for your young child?
Many children want to bring friends home with them to play after a morning of preschool, and that’s great! But, let’s be honest, most kids are not their best selves right after school. If your kids are anything like mine were, they are usually ravenous and cranky. They’ve been sharing all morning, and most likely, will find turn-taking at home to be hard. Because most children need downtime after school, playdates can be taxing. They are also fun, valuable, and most likely going to happen in your home at some point, so you might as well be prepared.
How to support your young child during a playdate:
Prep lunch BEFORE the school pick up. I like to set up a tray of finger foods that make lunch fast, filling, and energy-boosting. One simple idea is a snack tray filled with a bowl of carrots, a bowl of pretzels, hummus for dipping, a bowl of apple slices and some cashew butter and honey mixed to make a dip for apples. Give each child an individual yogurt cup and they can graze together on the snack tray. It is a simple, no pressure way to get a healthy energy boost into those little bodies.
Provide a simple, open-ended activity that includes a sensory component. One idea is a tinker tray of loose parts and playdough. I like this activity because it’s EASY and enticing. Pull out an old tray and fill it with interesting and colorful bits and bobs. Buy some playdough or make some home made. You can find my favorite recipe HERE. And all of my favorite playdough ingredients and accessories HERE.
When I am prepping an activity, I always try to have more than what I will need. Tired kiddos make impatient sharers, so I want to be sure to make play easy for them by having more than enough and limiting wait-time.
Incorporating a sensory component to the play can be comforting to a child who might be feeling unsure in your home environment. Playdough is attractive to ALMOST all young children. It’s familiar and can go in any direction the children take it.
Three life-saving play date tips:
Keep playdates SHORT! A playdate for a preschooler doesn't need to be longer than a hour or two at most.
ALWAYS show your guest where the potty is before you do anything else.
If there is a toy that you just know will be too hard for your child to share with his guest, PUT IT AWAY and save it for after the playdate.