Photo Credit: Getty ImagesSince his pre-kindergarten days, my oldest kid has occasional play dates with his school friends at their homes. I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. And when you're picking up your kid from a play date, it's crushing to know their intended few hours of fun turned into "the bad." Even worse? When you know your ride home will turn into "the ugly" because of something that happened at the play date.
Based on what I've seen, I've learned three tips to host a perfect play date for your kids. And trust me, the parents of your mini guests will appreciate you for it.
- Serve healthy snacks, and serve them early. True story: I picked my kid up from a play date at 4:30 p.m. The kids had just finished eating mounds of chocolate-frosted cake that they had helped make. Not only was my son hyped up beyond belief, he wouldn't eat his dinner. Also? The worst, worst, worst, sugar-low tantrum of all time. Now, I love sweets and tasty treats like a kid. But unless you want to deal with kids on a sugar low -- or worse yet, send a kid home on sugar high -- give them some healthy eats. Milk and cookies, cheese and apples, raisins, popcorn, fruit, crackers. (Make sure you know if your guest(s) have any food allergies, too.)
- Let them play without meddling. You obviously need to gauge the independence level of your kid and his/her guest, but most kids in the four-and-up crowd are ready to play on their own...without mom or dad hanging out close by. If the kids are playing happily, don't meddle. If you hear radio silence, check on them. If they've reached an impasse, they'll come to you when they really need your help.
- Know when to end it. Hey, kids have bad days too. Don't be afraid to end a play date if it's starting to go awry (e.g., constant fighting, your guest isn't following important safety/house rules, or your own kid is totally out of sorts). Seriously, it's okay.
Okay, share your play date drama stories...and your tips!