5 steps to planning a perfect play date

by

McKenzie Stamper

posted in Toddlerhood

Play dates aren’t what they used to be when I was growing up. This was all before Pinterest and Instagram stories. The closest thing I got to a planned play date was my mom buying me the new Lisa Frank fuzzy coloring posters for my Friday night sleepover.

Was it documented like they are nowadays? Maybe, if your parents had given in to your request for a disposable camera. Boy, have things changed!

Nowadays, there can be a bit of pressure when hosting a play date: what to eat, what to do? It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but these should be fun for everyone involved. Moms need play dates just as much as the little ones do. I have had so many over the years that I’ve reduced my planning down to 5 simple steps.

1. Pick a snack.

Think something easy, toddler-approved, and incredibly delicious (their standards aren’t very high). I have a friend who completely wowed me on our first play date with Nutella-stuffed crescents. I watched in awe as she rolled them up effortlessly, like it was no big deal. The kids and I devoured them as I thought to myself, “Did we just become best friends?” Your snack can be anything from cut up fruit and crackers to fancy Nutella-stuffed crescents. Whatever you’re feeling up to throwing together will work!

2. Bring on the juice!

Toddlers drink a lot of liquids. Make sure you have something yummy for the kids to drink. My 3-year-old can down a juice box in about 4 gulps after running around with his friends. Stick to a juice that you know everyone will enjoy, and won’t give your mom-friend a heart attack from the amount of high-fructose corn syrup involved. I like to bring along Mott’s for Tots Apple Juice. It has almost half the sugar of 100 percent apple juice, and 100 percent of your day’s vitamin C, along with vitamins A and E. My little ones’ favorite flavors are the original Apple, and Apple White Grape. They are tasty and refreshing, and I don’t have to worry about artificial sweeteners.

3. Set up a sensory box.

These things are great because they keep the kids occupied for a good amount of time. Think rainbow spaghetti, sand and little trucks, dried colorful beans and lentils, Play-Doh, even a water table with some bubbles and food coloring. Toddlers love touching and feeling new textures. (Be careful with young babies and choke-able items.) They’ll be in awe while you and your mom-friend can get in a good 30-minute adult conversation. That alone, to me, makes the sensory box setup-time totally worth it.

4. Throw down a blanket!

Whether you’re inside or outside, play dates can get a bit messy. Toddlers love to grab their juice boxes and squeeze as hard as they can while an apple juice geyser pours all over your floor. The floor you probably just cleaned right before your play date. So save your sanity and throw down a blanket.

5. Sit back and “relax”

Enjoy your time with another adult (besides your spouse). Even though it can be total chaos, it’s nice to shoot the breeze with someone who’s going through the exact same things in parenting. Share stories, vent, laugh, or even take a photo or two (or thirty).

So what about you? What are your favorite things to do on a play date?

Less sugar, more goodness! When you think your little one’s ready for juice, fill that sippy cup with a juice made specifically for them. One that cuts down on the sugar while adding essential vitamins. Find your tot’s flavor!

This post is sponsored by Mott’s for Tots. All opinions are truthful and my own.