I swear, everyday I’m learning something new as I navigate this whole, “new mom” thing. Elia is almost a year and a half and she’s finally starting to get to an age where her little personality is blossoming. As most of you know, I elected not to put Elia in daycare, so she spent much of her first year hanging out with me, my husband and our nanny Chi Chi.
When Elia turned one, I began to feel like I really need to get her interacting with more kids. I talked to my mom squad (every girl needs one) and they suggested we have more play dates! Genius, right?
Well, things don’t always go according to plan and my first real playdate was completely eye-opening (and frightening). Elia had a few friends over and as I was giving her a snack (that contained peanuts), another little girl came over and grabbed it. I didn’t think much of it and let her have it. Within seconds, her Mom rushed over, grabbed it from her hand and informed me her daughter had a peanut allergy.
Wow. To think I could have unknowingly harmed a child gives me the biggest pit in my stomach. Since I grew up completely food-allergy free, I would have never thought twice about it in a million years. Well, food allergies are a real dangerous thing and since then, I’ve taken measures to make sure that something like this NEVER happens again (more on that in a minute).
Here are my 5 tips that help me plan a “perfect” and totally safe play date.
Schedule around naps
If you’re a working mom like me, a strict schedule is the key to plenty of time with a happy baby. Elia is just the sweetest kid ever, but let me tell you, if she misses her nap or her timing gets thrown off, neither of us want to be around each other. It’s super important that you plan your playdates with naps that in mind.
I suggest coordinating with your friends and finding an ideal window that works for all. My friend Liz lives in my building, so she and her son JJ are some of our favorites to hang with. Liz and I both have early risers, so we opt for a 7:30 am start time. It gives the kiddos about 3 hours to play before it’s back for another nap.
If you can really plan the timing out, everyone is much happier!
Plan an activity
Once your timing is worked out, I find it really helpful to have an activity planned. When I say “activity” I don’t mean it has to be anything elaborate. Lately we’ve just been heading over to the park, going for a walk or even grabbing a fun special toy that they can use together.
It just makes it more fun for the kids when they are occupied (and more fun for the Moms so they can chit chat away!)
Have appropriate snacks available
As I mentioned earlier, I made a HUGE mistake by having peanut snacks available that could have been shared with a peanut allergic child. I felt like SUCH a bad person. Since then, I’ve done my research and found this amazing company called, The Safe and Fair Food Company. They are a fabulous company dedicated to creating clean label and nut-free foods. I have stock piles of their peanut and tree nut-free cookies and grahams so I know I’m always prepared when someone with a nut allergy is present.
Not only are they safe for little ones with peanut and tree nut-allergies, they are freaking delicious! I find myself munching away mid-play date (or while I’m in bed watching Real Housewives #nojudgment.) That coupled with the peace of mind that all the nut allergic little ones are safe is literally ideal.
You can actually buy these delicious snacks right online. Use code EVERYTHINGERICA and you’ll get to buy one get one free of the Abby’s Cookies or Remy’s Grahams! Just put two boxes in your cart, use the code and one will be free! It’s that simple.
And please, before you have a playdate, ask the parents about any food issues or limitations!
Elia is a social butterfly and bringing her to Bubbles Academy at such a young age definitely has taught her how to interact with other kiddos. Despite that, sometimes I worry since these classes aren’t with her toys, it will be hard for her to learn the concept of sharing. I think during a playdate, it’s smart to not only have plenty of toys, but to show them just how easy it is to share.
One thing I’ve noticed is that Elia loves to copy me (the good the bad and the ugly), so if she sees me sharing with her new pal, she will too!
Keep those eyes in the back of your head
With multiple kids playing, they are bound to keep an eye on each other, right? WRONG. I’d say it’s just as important to pay attention while they play when there are two of them, especially if your child is new to the play date idea. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we want to avoid some double trouble.
As we moms know, there’s no such thing as perfect, but these tips will help you plan a stress-free playdate. And honestly, what’s more perfect than that?!