Play Dates are so much fun and learning at the same time. It is very important for young ones to mingle and play with other kids. I am happy to have a group of same-aged toddlers.
Benefits for the baby:
- Learns social skills
- Learns to express
- Learns to play in groups
- Learns to share
- Learns to say “NO” (very important characteristic)
- Gets good physical exercise, play, workout – basically a constructive way to channel out that extra energy
- Helps maintain digestion & metabolism
- Gets good peaceful relaxing sleep (“wink”)
- Stays HAPPY in the joyful company
Benefits for mommy:
- Gets to socialize
- Gets to chat (“Stress buster”)
- Gets her dose of caffeine (and re-energize)
- Gets some rest, while baby is busy chasing friends (relaxing)
- Gets good peaceful relaxing sleep (of course)
- Gets some more “ME TIME” or time for spouse (‘wink”)
- Becomes HAPPY to see her baby enjoying
So a total WIN-WIN situation!!
If you want to include learning along with fun, you can always organize a THEMED PLAY DATE. Here I am listing few ideas:
- Doctor Theme:
Every child can be asked to bring a stuff toy to be a patient or even the kids can pretend to be patients. Only one person needs to own a Doctor set toys. You can keep cookies/ juice/fruits/cake etc. as medicines.
Trust me my boy is not afraid of hospital trips anymore, all thanks to this kind of pretend-play. Also they develop a sense of caring and sympathy.
Cute sets of Cash Register toys are available in market these days. You can arrange few plastic fruits and vegetables, juice tetra packs, chips or cookie packets etc. for shopping. Currencies are usually included in such toys. One can even pretend and play without actual toy or just get a print out of it.
Kids enjoy behaving responsible like adults managing their cash and buying stuff. Also understand the value of money.
The host can arrange few story books, picture books, touch and feel books etc. according to availability or can even ask the guests to bring 2-3 books of their choice. This way babies would get exposure to new books. Kids enjoy reading books and have fun telling stories to friends. They also love to show-off and tell the friends “what they know”.
4. School Theme:
As a child, I always loved to teach imaginary kids (LOL). Kids might enjoy pretending to be a teacher and disciplining fellow students. You just need few pages and pencils to hand over to the students. Teacher’s costume can be made little dramatic by giving her a spectacles.
5. Costume Party:
Everyone loves dressing-up. Just decide on the theme with mutual consent. Let it be a color theme, ethnic or traditional, regional (very much applicable to India where we have dressing based on the regions/states), Independence Day, Krishna Janmashtmi, Durga Puja, Diwali, Onam, halloween, Christmas, Jungle safari (just a handmade or market-bought animal face mask or face painting will also do).
6. Super Hero Theme:
Just give them drapes and them feel Super Power. Let them be free and run. Do utilize this opportunity to emphasis the importance of Power with Responsibility and Accountability. Kids love to help and be responsible.
Face painting can add little more color.
7. Art and Craft:
Kids can also be let to explore colors and textures. They enjoy themselves a lot in a company of favorite people. Few ideas:
- Hand/foot painting
- Spray painting
- Clay-doh craft
- Puppet making
- Home-made slime (Ask fellow moms to help in clean-up before they leave)
- Kinetic Sand
- Free play with colors – water colors, crayons. Print outs of few common objects would work.
8. Tea Party:
You can always inculcate a sense of a good host in your toddler by giving him responsibility to organize a Tea Party for his friends. Ask his suggestions regarding how the set-up of room should be, the snacks, the games etc.
9. Musical Chair:
An all-time hit with toddler who just love to run around. The spacing between chairs should be more with younger kids who might tend to lose balance or collide.
10. Balloon Party:
Simply blow up the balloons and let them fly in the room and then let the toddlers in. Believe me, they will love chasing balloons and will be tired in no-time. Just make sure to keep the furniture free and child-safe to prevent any kind of accidents.
11. Passing the ball:
Easy as Pie. Play on the music and keep passing the ball. The kids can be asked to recite poems, enact poems, tell stories as per their choice. Be prepared that this is going to be a never-ending game, as toddlers won’t like the idea of leaving the group.
12. Dance Party:
When nothing works, music works! Just put on the stomping music and let those energy balls roll and bounce.
Play Dates can also be tiring for the host. Some pointers to enjoy play date without making it stress:
- Keep the room furniture-free or minimal and ensure child-safety
- Food can be ordered or a pot-luck can be planned, or just simple snacks
- Ask fellow moms to bring extra pairs of clothes, socks, diapers, sanitizer,wipes, creams etc. that their baby might need
- Keep food/Juice/snack that their baby would prefer in case he doesn’t like the food offered by host
- Carry one of their baby’s favorite toy
- Keep options for food/ drinks ready beforehand
- Do get prior confirmations of the attendees
- Ask fellow moms to help in clean-up before they leave
- Most Important: PLEASE DO NOT BRING SICK CHILD TO PLAY DATE
Hope your toddler enjoys Play Dates.
Do share more ideas in comments. I am always on a hunt for new ideas!!