Playdates, or “mom dates” as I call them, become part of our weekly (or even daily) routine once we have kids. We want them to interact with others after spending every breathing moment on or next to us. Besides, we need some time too — to get out, share a “cuppa” with a fellow mama, swap spit-up stories, and indulge in actual adult conversations.
You might meet at the park to let the kids go wild, brave a group of kids at your own place, or you could meet at a local kid-friendly café (I haven’t come across too many in the U.S., but in London my local Starbucks had a play area, and they even made babyccinos). You catch my drift.
But then, you realize that just letting the kids sit next to each other isn’t enough, and you take your playdates to a whole new level. You send out invites, you require RSVPs, you buy snacks and drinks, you create an agenda, and you may even ask for a donation. I’ve experienced it all as the playdate guest — I call it the ultimate playdate.
Personally, I prefer the “laissez-faire” approach, with coffee and gossip for us mamas, but I suppose a bit of organized fun isn’t so bad.
To that end, here are six unique playdate ideas I collected from moms of babies and toddlers in both the US and UK!
“We like painting play dates. I just buy really cheap small photo frames from charity shops, then we do colourful hand and footprints. When they’re dry, we put them in frames. They make lovely keepsakes or family gifts, and the children love getting messy!” Leanne, Second Time Mummy
2. Sidewalk Graffiti
“I like to get a cheap packet of chalks and let the kids graffiti outside! Proper old-fashioned fun!” Sophie, Super Amazing Mum
3. Water Play
“In the summer, it’s got to be water play. Get the paddling pool out, let the children fill it (whilst spraying everyone!) And then give them lots of different toys and things to play with (watering can, paint brush for water painting, colander, boats, etc). Endless fun!” Alex, Medicated Follower of Fashion
4. Baby Staredowns
“My daughter is only 3 months old, so playdates are more for us mommies at this point, but It’s fun to put the little ones on their bellies or backs side by side and encourage them to look at each other. My daughter loves it almost as much as looking in a mirror!” Kaitlyn, Naturally Chic Life
4. Tea Parties
“We love mini-treat-making tea parties. Mini whoopie pies, donuts, cake pops — anything with sprinkles! Then we dress up and bring out all of the tiny china and tiny table linens. So fun!” Meg, Inside the Mom
5. An Impromptu Playroom
“My sister-in-law has made her dining room into a playroom with all of my nephew’s toys. On Friday nights around 7:00 p.m., she invites us to bring our babies and just hang out. The kids have fun and wear themselves out.” Alba, Independent Mami
6. Whatever the Kids Come Up With
“I just leave the kids to it. Left to their own devices, their imaginations take them on all sorts of amazing adventures. Depending on their mood, they’ll play “mummies and babies,” “doggies and owners,” “magic flower fairies,” etc. When I try and guide the playdate, they get overexcited and whiny. When I fade into the background, it’s magical. Makes me think — my best memories growing up involved me, my brother and friends. No parents in sight.” Janis, Really Kid Friendly
As I mentioned, I prefer to let them do their thing — follow each other around, explore their new environment together… and if all that fails, I bring out the BUBBLES!
Works. Every. Time.