Parenting

Setting up a Playdate

[Image - Karl Chor]
Written by Sam Skelding

How do you get a successful playdate up and running?

With the shared parental leave laws changing on the 5th April, dads finally have the option to split paternity leave equally with their partner. Although this is welcome news, we suspect new dads up and down the country are going to be looking for ways to keep their little one entertained all day.

You know what they say – a problem shared is a problem halved – so why not get a group of local dads involved and organise a playdate? Gathering in groups is one aspect of parenthood that seems to come more naturally to mums, so here are a few tips to get started:

Pop the question 

Asking other dads out on a playdate might seem daunting at first but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Perhaps head down to your local park, baby and toddler group or even your favourite coffee shop. These are not only places where your little one can learn to interact with others, but there are plenty of fellow parents in the same boat. 

With playdates, it’s also the more the merrier so don’t be afraid to cast the net wide. Once you’re all together, you may discover that you have loads in common – you might soon be creating a new 5-a-side team, “Dad’s Athletic”!

Organise the meet up 

Once on paternity leave, picking a day and time for your playdate might seem easy. In reality, calendars are still a jungle of family visits, appointments and NCT group meet ups.

Never fear, there are a number of simple tools available – like Doodle – which can help solve this problem. You just set up an event online, add all of your possible dates and then send the invitation link to your new dad-pals. All they then have to do is select the times they’re available and the clever tool works out the best time for everyone and notifies you.

Decide on what to do 

So you know who’s on your playdate and when you’re meeting, but what do you do? Don’t despair, the internet is full of ideas for fun, free days out for you, your little one and your now fast-growing dad gang.

For inspiration, check out local and national websites, like dayoutwithkids.co.uk or our Things to Do section for useful tips on making the most of what your area has to offer.

Playdates should be short and sweet, so aim for activities that won’t last longer than a couple of hours. It’s also good to ask whether any of the other kids have any allergies or special issues and definitely always mention if you have an unusual activity in mind. Never assume that just because you’re comfortable with taking your child to a specific environment, all of the other dads will be too.

Whatever you choose, being out and about on a playdate is certain to tire out your little one for bedtime!

Flexibility

It’s really great if you can keep the playdate ball rolling, meeting regularly and taking turns planning activities or hosting the group, but don’t rely on the other dads to reciprocate. Lives and family schedules can get pretty hectic – especially when a newborn is around – and these little get-togethers involve plenty of effort. You may be learning together but this isn’t school. Try to stay flexible and just have fun whenever everyone is available to meet up.

There you have it, playdates are the perfect opportunity to spend time with your little one while making friends of your own. Why not give it a go?

If you do set up a playdate, share your pictures and tell us all about in on Facebook and Twitter.

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