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This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Summer is under way and that means warm weather, running through sprinklers and having every intention to limit screen time during the 12 weeks of no school. I don’t know about you but by about week three, I am having trouble keeping the kids busy on my own. That is why I love planning play dates with fellow parents to help get our kids out doing more than just watching television.
As parents, we often times feel pressure to plan these out of the world, amazing play dates. With big themes and outrageously creative snacks. STOP! No need to stress yourself out. Planning a play date doesn’t have to be stressful or take hours of prep work. After all, the mots important part of the play date is in the name… “Play!”
Remember as a kid getting out and playing with your friends. I am sure my mom rarely knew where I was most days. Maybe I was playing near the irrigation ditch behind our house, or I rode a bike to the park with a friend. Now days, we are a bit more organized, but that doesn’t mean a play date can’t be filled with free play, even if it has a set place and time.
Tips For Planning a Play Date Without Stress
I do not need anymore stress in my life. Between working from home, having twin preschoolers and a gifted, but very stubborn nine year old, I don’t have time to create a space themed play date complete with a DIY space shuttle and home made, hand decorated rocket ship cookies. Instead, I go for stress free play dates. Not to brag, but I have pretty much mastered them. Check out my tips for organizing a play date (or even a group) below.
1. Choose your date and time
There are very few things you need to have a play date. The first is kids (of course) but the second is lining up the date and time. When choosing your date and time I suggest earlier in the day if possible. It will help make sure you wrap up before the hottest part of the day, which in turn will help keep whining to a minimum.
2. Choose your location
My personal favorite location to have a play date is the park. Why? Because it encourages free play for kids of all ages. My favorite parks are those that utilize Landscape Structures because I know the equipment is high quality and encourages my kids to be creative and also stretch themselves to try new things.
I also love that Landscape Structures makes it easy to pick a park for the kids attending. They create structures for kids of all ages and abilities, and all of their parks I have been to clearly mark the targeted age and abilities for that equipment.
3. Invite others
Be sure to invite other families to join your play date. Maybe even start up a play group. A friend of mine started one for this summer where they are visiting a new park every week. She simply put a list out on Facebook and sent a message to friends. Another great thing about having your play date at a park is that even if others don’t come, there is plenty for your kids to do on their own, so you don’t have to stress about “what if nobody shows.”
4. Bring some snacks
Be sure to bring a variety of snacks if that is part of your play date. Check with any quests about food allergies. I like to bring a few safe bets like grapes, string cheese, and crackers that are all packaged separately so if there is an allergy concern, nothing has cross contamination.
Make sure to bring water for everyone, or check that the park you are going to has a working drinking fountain. Especially as the summer heats up, make sure everyone stays hydrated is super important. We like to take reusable water bottles for our family, but I often try to pick up a gallon of water from the store or bring a water cooler as well. I have been the mom who forgot water bottles before, so I try to make sure everyone is covered when I plan.
Another item I sometimes forget as a parent when we head to a play date is sunscreen. Especially if it is at a location I have never been to before. Sometimes I figure it will have shade. Other times I think we won’t be there as long as we are, so I don’t bring sunscreen to reapply. Or often, I just forget it. I try to keep sunscreen on hand and am happy to share with other parents at a play date.
7. Follow Up
After a play date, be sure to thank the other parents for coming and ask to do it again if your kids enjoyed it. If you lined the play date up at school or the pool, or even Facebook, make sure you exchange numbers for texting to set up another play date during the summer.
Don’t forget to have your kids thank their friends for coming as well. It helps teach them how to be a gracious host but also makes the kids who attended feel like their presence was appreciated (and important).
There you have it. 7 simple easy tips for planning your kids’ play dates. You don’t have to put hours of prep, or even house cleaning, into a play date for it to be a huge hit.
Tell me your easy tips for play date in the comments.