Secrets to Successful Playdates
"Beginning and ending times for playdate are helpful. I've found one hour works best for the toddler set. Also, I tell my children to choose several of their toys they don't feel like sharing that day and we put those away before our friends come over. It helps with the issue of sharing, since that always seems to be the biggest problem!"—Jennifer Doyle, a mom of two in Knoxville, Tennessee who blogs at Playgroups Are No Place for Children . Plan DIY Time
"I always have make-your-own snacks for the kids – personal pizzas are always a hit. It's an extension of playtime and keeps them busy. Me, I'm freed from trying to make sense of multiple picky eaters' preferences."—Sarah Horaczek, a second-grade teacher and mom of two in Albany, New York Lay Ground Rules
"If we're playing with new friends, I ask the other mom straight out what she prefers: Does she want to let the kids sort out their arguments? At what point would she like me to step in? Is she going to get mad if her daughter is about to hit my son and I catch her daughter's hand and say 'be gentle'? Being on the same page from the start keeps us at ease throughout the playdate. It's also a surprisingly good ice-breaker."—Kristabel Hibbard, a mom of one in Enid, Oklahoma Try Destination Dates
"There's nothing worse than sitting awkwardly around while kids play and having nothing to talk about with fellow moms. At least at a playground or zoo or park, you can busy yourself with something when the conversation dies. Also? Wine always helps."—Jill Smokler, a mom of three in Baltimore, Maryland who blogs at Scary Mommy. Do Less, Not More
"It can be tempting to try to pack as much fun as possible into a playdate, but that's never a good plan. I once tried to go to Toddler Day at the local children's museum with four other moms and their kids, followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant and then a walk in the park. We spent our time at the museum chasing our respective kids around—it was mobbed and none of the kids played together. Then they were so over-stimulated that lunch was Meltdown Central. We didn't even try for the park. Since then, simplicity has ruled. We can pull off a five-kid pow-wow if there are no other distractions: just one backyard or playroom, for two hours, max."—Pamela Crane, a mom of one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Sneak In A Workout
"I taught Baby Boot Camp stroller fitness classes to a group of moms with toddlers. Moms working out while chatting with happy tots in tow—it's the perfect playdate combination! Classes like this are gaining in popularity, so ask around to find one in your local area."—Alysa Bajenaru, a personal trainer, dietitian, and mom of two in Phoenix, Arizona, who blogs at InspiredRD. Find A Play-Mate For You, Too
"I realized pretty quickly that toddlers are flexible—they'll play with pretty much anyone—so I figure that now is my time to be picky about finding moms I really enjoy hanging with. That way, we all win. My kids have a blast, and I get in some much-needed girlfriend time."—Anne Bennett, a mom of three in Round Rock, Texas.