Lucky is the parent who has never sweated through a playdate that’s gone south. You know, when the kids suddenly don’t seem interested in being together, have no idea what to do, or just sit couch-adjacent absorbed in their individual screens. Learning how to host friends is a life skill that will not only help your children forge stronger connections, but also help them practice planning, organizing, and reading social cues.
Kidstir founder and CEO, Aparna Pande, has twin 9-year-old boys, which automatically makes her a playdate expert! Try her playdate game plan with your kids:
1. Do a little recon. Encourage your child to talk to her friend ahead of time about things they both like to do. (If you have a specific screen-time policy, be sure to share that with the other parent ahead of time so there’s no disappointment. Aparna prefers to keep them screen-free so kids have more opportunity to actually be together. )
2. Curate the ideas. Have your child take out three items or activities that she knows they both enjoy. Three is enough to have back-ups without overwhelming the kids with too many options. (Baking together can be excellent playdate activity for kids who like to be in the kitchen. Our apple cupcake recipe will give them a chance to decorate too!)
3. Welcome warmly! When the pal arrives, let your kid show her guest around and offer up her ideas. Remind her to let her guest choose first. Sometimes the excitement makes it easy to forget!
4. Try to be flexible. If an activity turns out to be not so fun, your child can say, “How about we play this for another five minutes and then switch?” It’s important to remember not to say things like, “I’m bored!” If you overhear something similar, you might take your child aside for a quick reminder: “As host, it’s our job to make sure our guests are happy and comfortable.”
5. Keep ‘em short and sweet. Two hours is a good place to start! There’s still enough time to something, but not so much that kids start to lose interest. Happy hosting!