Return of the ‘play date’
One of the things I found hardest as a new mummy was when I discovered I was responsible for the social life of my children. This came as quite a shock, I was expected to have play dates. I needed to open the doors, expose my chaotic family life to people I barely knew AND show these people a good time!
Now, I am very aware that there is only one thing worse than navigating this world and that is not being allowed to see anyone! The covid era has forced us into isolated bubbles, unable to meet others and socialise for better or worse…
So, as we cautiously open our doors to the ‘real life’ world, here are some top tips for navigating the play date…
1. Location, Location, Location
Some of the best play dates are on neutral territory. In the Covid era outside is best so it’s the perfect excuse to meet in a park/for a walk. I found that this casual approach to play dates worked because the children weren’t navigating sharing, our houses could remain messy and we could leave whenever the time was right.
2. Show Home
If you are going to brave the ‘home play date’ I advise you make a conscious decision to not make your expectations of yourself too high. One of my older friends told me when I was pregnant that her biggest regret with early parenting was that she spent more time tidying than she did enjoying her children. This stuck with me.
When welcoming guests to the home I have a, ‘nothing embarrassing’ rule. That means that I make sure the toilet is flushed and presentable, there are no dirty nappies and the kitchen is clean enough that someone feels safe to say yes to coffee…beyond that is a waste of precious energy.
3. Hide the Favourite Toys!
I quickly realised that although my daughter liked the idea of a play date, she actually hated other children playing with/wrecking all her stuff. Therefore, we would nominate 3 precious toys that she wanted to put away. I would make a big fuss of hiding these treasures in a cupboard and somehow this lessened the worth of the remaining toys and she was more willing to share!
4. Free Play
The important social experience of playing as a child is that it’s organic, that’s how they learn! They might need a bit of stimulus (putting some toys out ready) but it’s also important you just let it evolve. Given a little bit of freedom small people can make a game out of anything so avoid getting too involved and let them take the lead and grow together.
5. Avoid Meals
Feeding our own kids is hard enough, feeding others’ kids is near impossible. Avoid this scenario at all costs. Until you really get to know another child this just isn’t worth the anxiety it causes all parties.
6. No Comparison
We are all unique (and that includes us!!!). It’s so easy to come home from visiting another parent’s house full of envy or feeling bad that another child is ‘doing’ more than our own. I have learnt two lessons over the years. Lesson 1; people’s lives are never as we view them. Lesson 2- every child on this planet develops differently and that difference should be never be a source of anxiety but be celebrated.
So, as we open the doors to the world again let’s be a little less worried about what people think and a little more content with who we are…and the first person to take this advice will be me!
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