We have all heard horror stories of nightmare play dates. Where the kids are fighting over toys, trashing your house, and beating up on each other! That is seriously enough to make you crazy or to never have another play date at your house again. But let’s face it… Play dates are part of childhood and they cannot be avoided. I’ve even heard of some mothers doing a reverse phone lookup on other mothers to find additional information on them to make sure that they are ‘good’ enough for their children.
As Little Dude got older our play dates have definitely changed. They use to be easy! We had participated in a playgroup since he was 2 months old that had weekly play dates. It was more for me back then. Then it was for him. It gave us a purpose for the day and got us out of the house each week, interacting with other kids and starting to learn how to share toys early on.
He did not really do much when we started play dates, at 2 months, but as time went on the kids grew and our Wednesday’s playgroup changed. It dwindled down to only 3 kids, which was great! And it went from the kids chilling on a blanket to then sitting, crawling, walking and then toddlerhood.
Our play dates changed from always meeting at each other’s houses to also include meeting at the park or planning other outings. We would still take turns hosting at each other’s houses too but we would incorporate other activities too. The kids grew up together and it was awesome to see them play so nicely together.
Then the kids started preschools at different schools, we moved out of state, and their social life’s had changed. Little Dude started meeting other kids and having more play dates with other kids. He was so use to playing with his buddies from when he was 2 months old, he knew the routine and a comfort level. He loved and had fun going to other kid’s houses and play with their toys.
We would also have other kids over our house. But, sometimes it was hard for Little Dude to share all of his favorite toys! And can you blame him? I thought we had the sharing thing down, but those Disney Cars did something to him. Lightening McQueen, Red, Doc and the entire gang were his favorite. He would let his friend play with them, but then he would ask them to, “share“. He would take back his Disney Car and share a different toy. He was “sharing” his toys but he did not want to share his favorite ones.
It quickly became apparent to me that he didn’t want to share those Disney Cars. And who was I to make him? I sometimes do not feel like sharing. Do kids have to share ALL of their favorite toys?
I pounder this question and I wanted Little Dude to understand sharing. Little Dude had no problem sharing the majority of his toys. It was just his collection of Disney Cars. I did not want my child to feel like he had to hoard and hide his toys when people came over. That would be horrible! He’s had enough changes with moving and I couldn’t help but think that maybe he found comfort in those little Disney Cars. And who am I to make him share his most “prize possessions”? Do you think kids have to share everything?
I do not have to share my laptop or my IPhone with my husband. Those are mine and my husband has his. Should it be different for our kids?
I feel even with siblings. They do not have to share everything. It is good that they can have things that are just theirs. Isn’t? They are learning to care for something, even a toy at a very basic level.
The stages of “favorite toys” does not last that long and eventually the favorite toy will fade away as something else gets more liked. Then, sharing “that toy” with siblings or during play dates can start then. Or when they are old enough to understand sharing… Around 4 or 5, or never… I know some adults that are not good with sharing.
Whatever the sharing level… Play dates can be stressful for both the host parents and host kid. Take some of that stress away and get yourself organized. Here are some tips for both the Host and Guests to make it one stellar play date!
Tips for the Best Play Date Ever for both the Host & the Guest…
For the Host…
1. Have a clear start & end time. When you are setting the play date let the guest know the times.
2. Plan out a “schedule” for how you would like the play date will go.
10- 10:15 arrive/ free play
10:15- 10:45- games/ toys/ clean up
10:45- 11:30- snack/ craft/ clean up
11:30- 11:45- good byes
3. Prep your house. Put away any in reach breakables or anything you don’t want touched. Shout doors, lock up any pets,
4. Prep your child. It is hard enough to share all your toys. Try to make it a little easier on your child. Let them
choose which toys they do not want to share and put those toys away. Let your child know that no one will take any of
his or her toys home with them.
5. Discuss house rules & expectations at the start of the play date with your child and your guests.
1. Talk to the host, find out the times, if there is something you can bring, and find out what the plan is. (Rule of
thumb: plan on staying with you child till they are 7 or 8 years old, you know the parents and feel comfortable
leaving your child). And if it is a drop off thing make sure you and your child are comfortable before the play date
2. Review sharing with your child and rules of being a guest in someone else house. Being respectful and follow the hosts
3. Do not over stay your welcome. Stick to the times the host invited you for.
4. Discipline your child if they do something wrong, stick to the same rules you required at home.
5. Bring a few of your child’s toys so they leave with one of their toys.
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