Stay Home Dad's Easy Guide to Playdates

Playdates can provide important social time for stay home dads and their children. Stay home dads get to socialize with and learn from fellow parents during playdates and children learn basic social skills such as sharing and cooperation. Playdates can be healthy for you and your child.

If you are considering playdates, keep in mind that one- and two-year-olds don't often interact directly with their peers. They are more likely to play along next to their peers and often don't show an interest in playing together until they are closer to three years old. Do not be frustrated if this happens during your playdates with your toddler. Just being close to and observing other children is good for your child. Let your child set the pace of the playdate and do what is comfortable for him. Pushing him into activities he is not ready for will only make him fearful of playdates.

If you are setting up a playdate, be very clear on whether parents are invited or expected to attend. In the beginning, it is recommended for parents to attend playdates with their children. This helps children become more comfortable in groups. Once the child is used to playdates, parents may leave during the playdate and pick their child up later.

A good ground rule for playdates is to set a definite starting and ending time for the playdate. This is important for the host parent's schedule and will give parents who leave their children a clear idea of when they should be picking their children up. Parents who leave should always leave their cell phone numbers with the host parent.

Children can be exposed to illnesses during playdates. Stay home dads should always cancel a playdate if his child is sick. Wiping down toys with disinfectant is also good practice, as is washing hands after playdates. Stay home dads should be a bit wary of playdates during flu and cold season and should take appropriate precautions. If your child has food or animal allergies, these should be made known before the playdate and measures should be taken to avoid bringing these children in contact with the food or animal they are allergic to.

If you are a stay home dad hosting a playdate, be sure to have plenty of toys on hand. If toddlers cling to their parents during the first playdate, let them. Introducing your child to playmates and playdates a little at a time can help him feel comfortable.

Use playdates as your opportunity to learn from other stay home parents. Ask questions about challenges you are facing with your child. Remember, this playdate is a social opportunity for you as well as your child!

Image Credit: Ben McLeod, Flickr

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