Making friends with other children and their parents can seem even harder than dating. Juggling the social interactions of your kids as well as your own is a complicated dance, and many parents often end up feeling lonely and without support. Here are some tips to planning play dates in your own home in order to foster friendship for you and your children.
Build a friendship group
If you’re searching for friends for you and your children, consider local playgroups and preschools. Your children are most likely to play well with friends and kids they see often, so utilise the resources you already have and chat to parents at the school gate or playground. Playdates are just as much for parents as they are for children, so invite parents you’d like to get to know better or have things in common with already. If you can, arrange to meet parents one evening without your children, so you can get to know each other properly and start to form the bonds without little ones tugging at your sleeves. A wine bar, casual dinner, or movie night are all great bonding opportunities, or choose another event you will all enjoy.
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By setting up a playdate schedule, you and your children will feel a sense of regularity and come to expect and look forward to playdates. Scheduled playdates have the added benefit of spreading out hosting duties. When you play at other’s homes, offer to bring snacks or toys to help out other parents, but most parents will likely prefer to take turns and prepare their own snacks when they host. When your turn to host comes around, try to be flexible about your home: remember that the happiest homes are often the messiest, or your guests will pick up on your stress level. Keeping calm and relaxed helps everyone to have a great time!
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Create a child friendly play space
If you have children, your home will likely already be set up for child friendly play. Designate a safe space for children to play semi-independently (a playroom or part of the living room work well) while adults chat and hopefully find a little time to relax. The best playrooms have separate areas for different kinds of play. Art stations, quiet/reading corners, dressing up areas, and building tables are all vital parts of the playroom. Set up a few activities at the separate stations to foster independent play for your children and their guests.
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Once your children have met a few times and are comfortable with each other, a regular playdate may start to seem a bit boring. Spice things up by offering themed meetups, such as teddy bear picnics, tea parties, or dressing up parties. You don’t have to go to too much trouble to satisfy your child’s imagination, but the little details do make a difference. Cut the crusts off some cucumber sandwiches, dress up with your fanciest jewellery, and get involved with your children during snack time to make their regular play dates feel extra special.
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For more tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com