Do I need to be arranging play dates for my preschooler every other day? I feel like I’m an administrative assistant for my four year-old.
With the social stimulation and adventures at school, our preschoolers need downtime and independent play more than they need extra activities or multiple play dates per week. It’s important for your four year-old to learn how to entertain herself for gradually extended periods of time. In addition, time spent in the comfortable, familiar environment of home can bring a much needed feeling of calm.
Getting together with another preschool family can be a fun social experience, especially if your kids get along. Remember to keep the duration short and set the kids up for success by checking in regularly and setting clear expectations about behaviour before the play date even starts.
Some parents consider play dates as a form of shared child care—you take the kids Wednesday afternoons and the other parent takes them on Thursday mornings. If the children play well together and enjoy the time, that can be worthwhile. However, if it is creating more hassle than it’s worth, it might be time to make a change. Trust your instincts if you get to this stage and don’t be afraid to be assertive.
If your child is constantly asking for a play date, figure out what you can handle, then stick to that plan. Many moms tell us that they struggle to keep up with regular play dates and feel the pressure to have a craft and a special activity planned. When we do something we don’t like just to keep up with ‘everyone else’, we send the wrong message. Say no to parent peer-pressure and live by the values that make sense to you. You’ll be teaching your child and gaining free time with one move.