As your child hits four or five, playdates become more common. Many people treat a playdate casually with no set rules and just a loose idea of pickup and drop-off times. But, if you want your playdates to be in demand, consider this list of tips to make this a playdate to be remembered for all the right reasons.
1. If you’re the organizer, set up times that work for the other family but don’t cramp your other plans. The key here is to communicate clearly. If a specific time won’t work, speak up and make your limits known. Plan extra time to arrive promptly for pickups so that other families can get on with the rest of their schedule.
2. Write up a list of contact and emergency numbers that you can easily give to playdate parents. It’s easy to make up a stack of these to have on hand. Include any allergies or medications that might be important.
3. If you’re the host, be clear on what you’ll be providing during the playdate. If you have lunch covered, mention it to other families so you can clear any allergies or food issues. The best dads will have a healthy snack planned and extra points if the meal is something other than pizza or mac ‘n cheese.
4. Don’t show movies or allow television during playdates. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule (sleepovers, for example), but in general, most parents don’t like to send someone over for a playdate that is just for TV-watching. Avoid movies unless you are very clear on the movie title or type of movie to be shown. You don’t want to be the host for the first time little Johnny hears about sex or murder in the PG-rated film you let them watch. Different parents have different tolerances here.
5. Make sure you’re clear who will be watching the kids. If you have to go out and it will be your babysitter or other family member watching, make sure to mention that. No parent wants to find out in an emergency that you aren’t actually the one watching the kids when they call.
As a dad, you might be held to a higher standard than for other moms. You can make sure your child will have more than his or her share of playdates if you go beyond the call of duty to make sure playdates are a simple, issue-free event.