I love to socialize, but incorporating our sweet and wild boys can be very stressful. A play date is awkward. When my toddler grabs another Mom's drink or has a meltdown, I adjust and choose a better time for our next outing.
Regardless of all the unknowns, we start with these rules.
House and family rules dominate. Every family dynamic is different. We try to respect others' nap times and diet needs. That means we try our best to be on time. Two hours is more than our maximum window for potential good behavior at anyone else's home.
We need to be flexible. Kids and adults get sick, crabby and tired. There's always another day.
We need to be grateful. I appreciate our friends' kids who say "No, thank you" and hope they set a good example for ours. Their encouragement was best of all. All kids develop at different stages. Most toddlers naturally do not share a lot about their school day, but I'll keep prodding with questions about their teachers and friends I know... I'll take every detail I get about any and all of their feelings.
Everybody cleans up. I have wicked anxiety when my boys make a mess in someone else's home. Other kids have potty accidents (don't phase me) and may make a mess at our home and vise versa.
Low maintenance is best. A neutral location like a park or kid zone such as McDonald's eliminates so many opportunities for stress...
Model empathy and compassion. Our boys are surrounded by loved ones who cuddle them and support them.We try to share that positive energy with others. We talk about how others feel and ways to help during story time and every day examples, which we try to connect with our friends. Every day is a new adventure, but we keep trying...
Everybody takes a turn. We insist our boys share toys and thank others for also sharing, including our hosts. When all else fails, we reach for a diversion and try to again the next time.
Last week's play date forced me to clean our home a bit before my husband returned from his out-of-town work trip. Phew!
What are your play date lessons learned?