How to Have a Successful Play Date

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Before cliques, dating, break-ups and office politics, comes that first and developmentally vital tradition in a human being's life: play dates. Play dates are a child's first foray into the world of friends and social rules. Kids can learn a great deal about social interaction during play dates, which is why they're so important.

For moms, play dates provide a chance for a little social interaction of our own. In the presence of other mothers, we can share our joys, concerns, and questions about parenting, or take a break from mom-talk and share gossip, laughs, and deep musings. Overall, play dates can be great experiences.

It's not always easy to find other mothers with whom to share these fun times, and even when we do, there's the task of scheduling and supervising play dates, and diplomatically handling the inevitable small accidents and clashes of will that are bound to crop up when kids get together.

Luckily, as adults, we have the ability to plan and strategize, which is all you really need for a successful play date.

Most of these tips apply to play dates hosted at home, but keep mind that play dates can be held at other locations, most commonly at local parks. Holding a play date someplace other than at home may be a good idea if one or both of the children are likely to have a meltdown over other kids' toys. It can also be a good place to meet for the first play date or two. Neutral territory is usually best when children are first getting acquainted.