Making Playdates Easier & Play Happen for ALL Kids

Posted on: August 24th, 2016 by

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

playdates, active play

 

Unstructured! Somewhat Random! Active Play!

 

When my boys were younger, playdates seemed to happen naturally. There were weekly playgroup meetings at church and biweekly meetings of MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers). We’d get together outside of that at each other’s homes or on group meet ups at the parks, zoos, or wherever. Kids would play. Moms would talk. Little did we know how easy we would had it to make playtime happen.

 

Then our kids got older. Some kids went to half-day preschool. Some went to full day preschool. Some were homeschooled. Before we knew it there was Kindergarten, and First Grade. Suddenly our tight knit group of friends had kids in 3 different school districts on all different school schedules. Now add in sports and afterschool activities, what time is left for kids to play with friends?

 

My boys keep getting older. Invitations for playdates come less often or when they do they are very spontaneous. Kids will make plans with each other without talking to their parents…. And then because we don’t know each other or can’t drop everything to host someone, those playdates don’t happen. Because when you’re 7, 8, or 10 do any of us really accompany our kids on playdates to hang out with other parents?

 

I started to take it personally. I started worrying about why it was that my kids didn’t ‘seem’ to get invited anywhere to play. Then, I took matters into my own hands. I started organizing group playdates in my home. Blogging often gives me an excuse to get kids together. Need to write an article about being creative with pudding? I invited a group of first graders over to make pudding cup animals. Need to write about going back to school? Bring over the tweens, I’ll bribe them with pizza and video games. It’s so important for kids to get together and play regardless of their age.

 

Kids need to balance out their structured organized sports time with random active play. Consider this from CLIF Kid, play is disappearing at home, in school and in communities. 70% of moms played outside when they were kids, 31% of their kids play outside today. It’s that time outside and with friends that kids push their limits, explore their imagination, and create their own adventures.

 

CLIF Kid

 

We know this and yet we struggle to make it happen for our kids. Everytime I’ve organized these playdates (or get togethers as the big kids call them), moms have been very appreciative. Everyone always wants to know what they can bring to help. And in those moments it’s when I realized something BIG. Playdates aren’t happening because we’re all under the impression playdates have to be hard. We have to clean our house. We don’t have space for active play. We have to find a time to get schedules coordinated and then figure out what the kids will want to do.

 

STOP!
Playdates don’t have to be hard!

 

It’s time to get kids to COME OUT TO PLAY!

Just take a look at this great video from CLIF Kid encouraging kids to get out to play.

 

CLIF Kids

 

The best playdates I have organized so far have been unstructured, somewhat random, active play. Since New Year’s Eve, I’ve hosted 3 EPIC Foam Dart Gun Battles at our local park. And I have to tell you this is the EASIEST playdate I have organized. I pick a time. I let everyone know through a Facebook event. We meet at the local park. I bring my 5 gallon jug of water and snacks like the CLIF Kid Zbar® to share. Kids bring their soft pellet or foam dart guns and darts. For an hour, we just let the kids run free. No rules (other than no mean behavior). No teams! No points! We just let them loose. As kids play parents hang out. We get to know new parents. We get caught up with old ones. Kids have a blast. Parents love it. There’s no mess in anyone’s home. There’s no one upset if a few kids can’t make it, because there’s other kids to play with. It’s been a win win!

 

CLIF Kid

 

How to organize an easy playdate

  • CLIF Kid

    Fueling up with a CLIF Kid Zbar®.

    CLIF Kid Zbar®

    Find a date that works for you and at least a few other people. I try my best to avoid a time when most kids will have activities. Midmornings and midafternoons work when kids are off from school. Early evening and late afternoons could work during the school week.

 

  • Think about where you’ll meet. Meeting at a common location or place of play makes it easier to invite more children and no one has to clean their house or make it presentable. Where are there great places to play in your community?

 

  • Will you have a theme? This is where you need some loose structure so kids know what to expect. Tailor your activity to your place of play. Whether you choose to host a dance party, field day challenge, a soft foam dart battle, pick an activity that matches your place of play.

 

  • Let everyone know. So many of our friends are on Facebook. I’ve started using the Facebook Events feature to organize playdates. I can easily invite our local friends and I can make the event private or public. I can also allow my invited guests to invite others… helping everyone get to know other kids and make new friends through active play. I’ll also post any updates about our play activity there and others can comment or ask questions too. When my friend posted pictures the other day of her kids getting ready for our latest epic battle, we all got more excited.

 

CLIF Kid

 

  • Pack the CLIF Kid Zbar® for snacks! Bring the water cooler. These CLIF Kid bars are great because I can easily throw them in my backpack and head out on our adventure. And if the rare chance there’s any left over… well the CLIF Kid Zbar® make great snacks for the lunchbox too. With the water cooler, I have kids bring their own refillable water bottles. This way they stay hydrated and there’s very limited trash or waste. Snack time made easy!
    • Why CLIF Kids? Because their snacks like the CLIF Kid Zbar® are made with organic ingredients.
      • CLIF Kid snacks are made with kids in mind. Serving portions appropriate for kids. Flavors kids love with ingredients that are good for them.
      • CLIF Kid Zbars are made with organic ingredients, non-GMO, have important nutrients for active kids and have no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors (or synthetic preservatives)

 

CLIF Kid

 

School will be starting soon. Schedules will get busy…. But before they get too busy.. start planning the next time for your kids and their friends to get out and play.

 

Tell us how will your kids get out and play!

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posted in: All, Parenting Help, Ways to have Fun at Home

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Jennifer Auer is the hyperlocal mom blogger who runs Jersey Family Fun. From New Jersey, this mom of 3 boys just can’t sit still! Her husband likes to say she’s a work-at-home mom who never stays home. Jennifer started traveling as a child and hasn’t stopped since. Instead of letting her husband and boys slow her down, she brings them along! Did you know that boys behave better when they are out exploring? As her boys start to become teens there’s still so many places she wants to discover with them both across the U.S. and internationally.

She has been a Jersey Girl for 20+ years, and a Jersey Mom for 8+ years and a New Jersey mom blogger for 7 years, although she’d much rather be referred to as an influencer or just by name.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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