“Mum can Amelia come to our house?”
my daughter Ruby asked me at school pick up the other week, my stomach churned uneasily at the thought of hosting a tea time play date.
“Well yes OK maybe next week, “
I said buying myself a bit of time because, despite my reservations, I`d be a bad mother if I denied Ruby a social life, right?
Now let me explain my hesitation because you might be the unflappable type who regularly invites your children’s friends over with comments like,
“why don’t you just drop all four off the more the merrier! After all it’s only a few extra settings at the table.”
You see for me it’s MUCH MUCH more than a few extra place settings and as you will know from my previous post, we live in a small,cluttered house; So the thought of having extra kids bouncing around in our minimal space gives me the serious jitters.
On top of that, although Ruby will be bubbling over with excitement about having a friend round,once they actually come her enthusiasm usually starts to wain rapidly; Watching her chosen pal rampage through her bedroom, turning out draws and rifling through boxes is too much to handle and when they discover her little treasure box containing her most favourite shells, pebbles and feathers that`s when the shit will really hit the proverbial fan!
So, I’ve come up with a 7 point plan based on my own experience of play date success and failure because just like tooth extraction or childbirth, you want them to be over as painlessly and quickly as possible.
Point 1 Hide all the favourite toys
This is all about damage limitation, they are probably still going to fight over something but tell your child beforehand if there is anything, they really don’t want little Archie or Evie to play with then you will hide them in the airing cupboard.
That way they should in theory be happy to share their remaining toys and you can remind them of this later if there’s any trouble.
Point 2. Tire them out
Don t pick them up from school in the car, make them walk back or if that’s not an option take them to the playground first for a good half hour of fresh air and vigorous exercise, better still do both.
When Amelia(mentioned earlier) came to play recently I had lined up a ten minute walk from the school to the local park and then sat on a bench shivering whilst they burned off all that pent up energy. Yes, you might get cold and rained upon but just remember you` ll get the payoff when you get them home and they have no energy left for anything but colouring in.
Point 3 Keep it plain, Keep it beige.
Fish fingers, pasta, pizza are all firm favourites, as a rule of thumb if its stodgy salty, carby and beige you’re onto a winner. You could throw a few carrot sticks into the mix solely for the benefit of visiting child’s parents who will quiz them about what they had to eat on the way home.
Under no circumstance try and add any type of sauce or marinade because you think it will be too bland, IT CAN NEVER BE TOO BLAND!
Point 4 Go with the flow
You will rustle up a lovely little buffet with pasta twizzles, pizza triangles,little sandwich squares and carrot batons but visiting kid will find something wrong with it -GUARANTEED!
“My Mum cuts them into squares “she will say or “Has the pizza got pineapple on it?”
Just smile and offer to cut the bloody things into triangles,tell her the pineapples well hidden and if its still not right plate up what’s left because you don`t want to let good junk food go to waste right?
Point 5 Silence is not golden
If the kids are upstairs and everything goes quiet apart from the odd whisper or stifled giggle go and investigate IMMEDIATLEY!!!
You will probably find them making a magic spell in the cauldron (upstairs toilet) by emptying all your shower gel and shampoo into it(true story) or they will be in your bedroom holding aloft your most enormous pair of knickers and debating if they could make a den out of them.
Point 6 Have a plan B
If they re just not getting on or they re getting on too well and your toiletries are in the bottom of the pan then you need to detonate plan B.
This can be making a fish out of paper plates and silver foil, a game of hide and seek or treasure hunt in the garden; to be honest it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it puts an end to the undesirable behaviour it’s been deployed against.
For more ideas on fun crafts to do with kids check out this blog https://auntiemblog.wordpress.com/category/kids-crafts/
Point 7 The power of the screen
If the situation is so dire that the treasure hunt has turned into mud wrestling then stick the telly on, give them a bowl of popcorn each and peace will reign guaranteed!
No kid can resist the hypnotic effects of the screen!
And then it`s time to say Goodbye…
Once you`ve stood at the door and waved them off just a little too cheerfully go in, pour yourself a large glass of something and as you slump at the kitchen table contemplating the mess take heart in this;play date etiquette states it`s their turn next!!
So I hope you enjoyed my seven point plan, I`d love to hear your own thoughts on play dates, love them or dread them?Please write to me and share your own tips,
Until next time