Has this ever happened to you?
You pack up your kiddos, load them into the car, arrive at your scheduled playdate, and then…your toddler or preschooler has a complete and total meltdown? It’s the worst, isn’t it?! So today I want to talk about taming playdate disasters.
I don’t have a lot of great answers. What I do have is a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that work (most times) for our family. I’m asking for your best tips, too! Let’s start a dialogue and share about what works for our kiddos.
Tip #1 – Set yourself up for the best chance for success (maybe.)
I try to not schedule playdates after other big activities, or when my kids are likely to be cranky or hungry.
Best case scenario, my kiddo is ready for fun. BUT, if my little man is in a mood, overtired, or already throwing fits about this or that, why start the whole playdate out on a sour note?
Being a “Type A” personality, it’s difficult for me to alter plans at the last minute, but depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing (and if the timing is somewhat flexible), I will sometimes hold off until he is in a better frame of mind.
This may mean we’re a little late…and that we have a better playdate!
Tip #2 – I stay consistent with my own “house” rules.
Consistency has been key for our kids. This means that our rules at home are the same rules wherever we go. And believe me, my kids test me, especially if other families have different house rules.
I simply explain that every family has different rules, and that’s absolutely okay. But our rules are _______ (insert applicable rule). This.is.so.hard. Especially at someone else’s house. But, I’ve found in the long run, consistency has worked better for our kiddos. They know what I expect of them, and vice versa.
Tip #3 – I leave special lovies or toys in the car.
I have made the fatal mistake of letting one of my kids bring their lovey into someone else’s home for a playdate. I mean, it’s their security, right?
Ummmm, guess what happened?
My baby was easily distracted by the “new” toys their friends had, left their lovey on the floor…and minutes later, freaked OUT because another kid was wondering around with it (on the floor = fair game, with a group of kids.) Ensue major meltdown.
From that disaster on, our lovies and special toys stayed in the car. We strap them into their carseats so they are waiting and ready for us when we return to the car. Major tantrum avoided right out of the gate.
Tip #4 – I make an effort to listen.
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes I get so involved in talking with my other mama friends or helping with something to do with a craft or snack, I don’t always stay tuned in to the conversations going on with the kiddos.
If I hear fighting or yelling between my kiddos and their buddies for more than a few minutes, I’ll wander over, listen and observe.
If I need to intervene, I’ll ask them to use their words and explain what’s wrong. The majority of the time, it’s a quick fix. An apology, hug and change of activity usually does the trick.
And, if it’s not? If appropriate, my kid gets a time-out for the infraction (our main form of discipline) – even though we’re at a friend’s house.
Tip #5 – I’m not afraid to abandon ship.
And, if all else fails (after several attempts to appease the situation), I’ll give my fellow mama a hug, apologize for the speedy exit, and take my kiddo home. Hey, we all have bad days, right?! Plus, it likely makes the other mom feel grateful she is not the only one.
Sometimes we need our space…and this is true for our children, too.
What do you do when a play date turns disastrous? Any great tips to share?
Please comment below!