When Play Dates Become a Problem

Hi everyone! I wanted to bring attention to a part of babysitting/nannying that can be kind of tricky at times: play dates! How do you deal with the sibling whose left out of the fun? How about when the play daters just want their own time together? What do you do when one kid wants to do one activity, but the rest of them want to do another? How do you handle the situation when play dates go wrong? And, ultimately, do you feel play dates help, or are they more of a hindrance? Would love to hear everyone's opinions/ tips/ tricks! - Anonymous


GBRudy16 said...

I hate playdates. I even hate that made-up word. I don't ever host them at the work-family's house because it is not my job to watch someone else's children in addition to my charges. Since they are starting to become a problem for you, I suggest moving them to the playground. That way the other mother or nanny has to stay the whole time and watch her own child.

BrooklynMomma said...

My personal rule is to have play dates out of the home (in a playground if possible or some sort of indoor play space) and with more than one additional family. Ideally, I plan play dates with families that have similarly aged children, so that my oldest or youngest aren't left out. I find 1:1 play dates to be stressful and not fun at all so I avoid them at all costs.

Bethany said...

If possible try and schedule playdates with siblings of similar ages or allow each child to bring a friend.

Try and schedule playdates away from the home. I like to do this because everyone is equal no one has home court advantage so to speak.

Allowing them to play on their own totally depends on the kids. even still they should always be in ear/eye range.

As for activities if disagreement occurs on the playground I'd say give the children a chance to work out which games they play on their own. It's important for them to learn how to negotiate with their peers.

If it's a disagreement on where they go as in you drive them to an activity set up a schedule and you can rotate who picks where they go

You Can't Say You Can't Play said...

Classroom teachers often have these kinda of squabbles, often coming in from recess. Not sure how old your kids are, but my suggestion is to hold a "meeting" with all kids at the start of a playmate. Ask kids to brainstorm some solutions together. Write ideas on a piece of paper for all to read (even if they're 4 or 5), and facilitate a negotiation. "Timmy, what's your idea? Jane whats your idea?" Help kids come up with ideas that all kids can participate in.

I like the idea of "you can't say you can't play". If a sibling wants to play alone with their friend, they will need to do so at friend's house. My rules are that everyone needs to be welcome to participate if they would like and negotiations should include all.

Manhattan Nanny said...

I am happy to host playdates. I think they are an important part of a nanny's job. usually they are not drop off until kindergarten. At that age, the kids don't need a lot of direction and supervision, but sometimes I step in to suggest a game or get art/craft materials out if things aren't going smoothly. It is also important to provide good snacks!

I don't consider going to the playground a playdate. I have observed situations where a child was told "you can't play with us, we are on a playdate". We frequently go with classmates to the playground after school. This is a casual arrangement made at pickup, and not considered a playdate. There are usually other kids they know there, and they all run around together.
Whether or not siblings are included depends on the ages. If 8yo A has a friend over, I will do something with 5 yo B so she isn't pestering the 8 yos. Sometimes, the older kids want to dress her up, or play school, and that's great, but I think they also have a right to some privacy if they want to hole up in their room and do 8 yo things.

Jessi said...

I don't mind play dates. I think it is important for small children to learn that their peers may not always want to do exactly as they want. A play date with small children usually means coffee and an adult chat for me. If the kids are big enough to be dropped off for a play date, its good to ensure it happens at both kids houses (so you aren't always the one looking after extra kids).

As for younger siblings, I try to have a special activity for the sibling(s) so they don't feel left out and the other child gets to enjoy their time with their friend

thatswhatisay said...

play dates teach children social skills. it also teach coping skills to the children who aren't included in the group or want to do things their way and the other kids walk away from them.

let them be. they need to learn to deal with rejection once in a while. trust me, they will be rejected a lot in life, and the earlier they learn how to deal with that, the better.

NannyPants said...

My previous job was caring for 4 boys, and the oldest two were twins. One was constantly getting called on play date or asking to have friends over and the other definitely kept to himself much more and didn't have as many friends. It broke my heart when I thought about how he must feel about it. I limited the at-home play dates and if one of the boys was away on one, I planned a fun activity at home for the others. I didn't want to just never allow play dates to happen because like the PP said, they are great for social skills.
Once in a while I would host a group play date where we would invite some of the neighborhood kids over that ALL of the boys got along with and have a theme day like make our own movie theater if it's rainy, have certain crafts, bake something and have them decorate it..just so it got everyone involved.