Let’s be honest, a play date is not just for your child. A play date requires that you, the adult, interact with another adult. You must sit with this person and find some way to strike up an interesting conversation. Finding a suitable play date for your child is more about finding a parent that you can stand for 2-3 hours.
Finding a play date for K comes with two major challenges — we are both introverted. Not only do I have to take special care when selecting a play date parent, I need to be aware that K can be taken aback by certain personalities.
When searching for a play date, I prefer to start with someone in my interests networks. By “interests networks” I mean other moms that belong to your bike club, reading club, or church. If you have the same interest, keeping a conversation going during your play date is much easier.
My second resource for play dates is my child’s social networks. School, preschool, daycare, and other activities are great venues for finding kids that your child is already familiar with. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to peep out other moms before inviting them on a play date.
In short, these are some of the traits I look for in moms and their children that make for suitable play dates:
- Extroverted – Since my child and I are both introverted, we need extroverted people to bring us out of our shell. Extroverted people also tend to have large networks which can open up more play date opportunities.
- Talkative – This kind of goes along with being extroverted, but the more talkative the parent and child, the easier it is for us to talk.
- Similar Value System – I’m very liberal and love to be around other liberal-minded people.
- Active – A very active parent can come up with lots of new play date suggestions.
- Non-Judgmental – Different strokes for different folks. I won’t judge you, if you don’t judge me.
- Dietary Habits – K and I eat pretty much eat whatever we want. I would love someone that can introduce us to healthier foods.
- Trustworthy – Don’t allow yourself to be entertained by gossip. If your play date mom is only interested in gossiping about other parents and children, she will gossip about you to the next parent.
- Expand the group – Inviting more than one mom will keep things a bit more interesting. But since my child is more introverted, an extra child in the mix could leave him feeling left out. So I must approach expanded play dates with caution.
Suitable Places for First Play Dates
This may not seem important but it makes a big difference. If we meet at a park, K quickly runs off on his own and forgets about the other child. I may not feel comfortable meeting at another mom’s house that I don’t know well. I prefer environments in which the kids are forced to focus on each other such as the zoo or science museum (since we will be walking as a group), the beach as I can force them to build sand castles together, or starting the date off with lunch- a more intimate setting that allows the kids to interaction without the distraction of play.
Play Date Ideas
Another play date option is to partake in an activity that both adults and children can enjoy. Here are some ideas:
- Arts & Crafts project either at home or at an establishment such as Color Me Mine.
- Paddle-boating at a local lake.
- Tail-gating at the local game. This seems a bit unconventional, but kids will usually click to each other since this is a more adult setting. And of course, the adults can enjoy the game.
- Enjoy a recording session. Whether you can sing or not, getting together to record a song is fun for everyone.
- Day or Overnight camping. You don’t have to stay overnight, but you can put up a tent and roast a few hot dogs over a campfire while the kids run about.
- Circus. Everyone loves a trip to the circus.
Here are some other places to go and activities to do with your kids via play date or flying solo.