This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Simple Green. All opinions are my own.

Playdates are kind of my thing.

Being a stay at home mom, mommy group leader, and preschool co-op coordinator, I’ve hosted a fair share of playdates in my life. From the simple “Why don’t you come over and our kids can play together?” playdate, to the more elaborate themed playdates with 15+ kids.  I’ve done it all and I LOVE them. They offer a great opportunity to connect with other parents while our kids enjoy some fun social time, too.

Unfortunately, the term “playdate” has scared a few parents off thinking they need to plan some elaborate event to entertain the kiddos during the allotted time frame. While you certainly can do that (I, for one, love hosting fun themed playdates!),  it doesn’t have to be anything big. All a playdate requires is friends coming over to play. That’s it! The key is to make it enjoyable for you, the kids, and the other parents you’re having over.

That being said, there are a few things I’ve learned about hosting playdates that I’d love to share with you all. These tips are meant to keep the playdates fun for everyone involved   🙂

Tip #1     Use Playdate cards to invite new friends over

Sometimes my kids will meet a new friend on the playground and want to have them over to play. Of course, that means introducing myself to the mother and exchanging contact info to get the playdate set up. These invite cards are a cute and easy way to make that introduction simple 🙂

Download these cards for free here! 

Tip #2    Host playdates before lunch

I’ve found that the best time to host playdates are between the hours of 10-12 (before lunch). This is when kids are least likely to have melt-downs from hunger or tiredness, and it gives a natural end time that kids could understand (“we’re staying to play until lunch, then we have to go home to eat and take naps”).

Tip #3     Go over the ground rules with your kids before friends arrive

My kids know that when friends come over, they are not allowed to have out any electronic device (no TV, IPads, etc.). We give our friends our full attention.

Tip #4     Clean those toys

Ok, I’m definitely NOT trying to give you more work. You’re a busy mom and cleaning toys is not always priority number one, but take a look at this picture. Magna-Tiles are one of our most popular toys during playdates, and it shows with all the dirty water in this bin! I don’t want to give myself extra work, but a once a month dunk in a bath of warm water and Simple Green is easy-peasy (and it makes me feel good about letting kids get their play on with squeaky-clean toys).

(we use the all-purpose cleaner diluted at a 1:30 ratio for a simple cleaning solution)

The All-Purpose Wipes are perfect for quick wipe downs, too.

The best part about using Simple Green– It’s safe for my kids to be around. They can even grab a rag and help me clean (a mom can dream, can’t she? 😉 )

Tip #5     Remind kids to put away toys as they finish playing

I know my kids get so excited about sharing EVERY SINGLE TOY THEY OWN, so things get messy pretty fast. I just like to occasionally remind my kids that they have to put a few things away before taking more out. This makes clean-up more manageable when the playdate is over, too.

Tip #6     Let kids negotiate their own disagreements

Kids are going to be kids and there will be disagreements between them during the playdate. I do my best to stay out of their arguments, though. I’m by no means saying ignore them when they get into overly-heated arguments, but I am saying that kids are learning how to navigate social situations through playdate interactions. One kid wants to play Batman, another wants to play house. I will not step in to help them solve their problem. They can figure out a solution on their own.

Tip #7    Enjoy spending time with the parent/s you invite over

While the whole intention of a playdate seems to be for the kids to enjoy each others’ company, the parents should also have a good time too! If all your mom-guest is doing is sitting and watching her kids play for two hours, there may not be a second playdate. Let her put her feet up for a while. Offer some coffee and chat about the weather, celebrity gossip, or anything in between. The playdate should be a chance for her to relax, too.

Tip #8     Have a small snack available

This one is tricky because there are so many food allergies and sensitivities to consider. My youngest, for example, is allergic to eggs and nuts. The best thing to do here is have something that is most likely going to be allergy free and healthy. Fruit (cutie oranges, cut up melon, sliced grapes, etc.), crackers, and cheese are usually good options to have available.

Tip #9    Consider the younger siblings

Our friends often have younger siblings (infants and toddlers) coming to the playdates as well, and we want to make sure they enjoy coming over, too! Some things we do when we have younger friends over are putting away very small toys (I’m looking at you, Legos), and having at least one babyproof room for them crawl around in. Bonus points if you have a few age appropriate toys just for them as well <3

Tip #10     Have clear start and end times

All good things must come to an end…but nobody wants to be left guessing when that end actually is. I find that giving my kids a warning helps transition everyone to ending the playdate at the appropriate time (“ok kids, I’m setting the timer for 10 minutes. That’s when we’ll start cleaning up and saying our goodbyes”).

Did these tips help you feel more confident about hosting awesome playdates?

This post has been part of a Stay at Home Mom Series. Catch up with the rest of the posts here:

How to Make Mom Friends

How to Start an Awesome Mommy Group!

A Year of Playdate Activities (Pre-Planned for You!) (future post)

10 Must-Know Tips for the Best Playdates! (this post)

Don’t forget to download your FREE playdate cards here!

FREE printable playdate cards for moms! These would be super convenient on the playground!

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