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How to Host the Perfect Play Date in 4 Insanely Easy Steps

You’re scoring pretty high in most of your parenting stats for today, wouldn’t you say?  Let’s tally them up:

  • Sandwiches made: 4
  • Laundry loads folded: 2
  • Coloring book pages colored: 7
  • Diapers changed: 11
  • Questions answered: 752
  • Adult conversations: Uh, are those actual crickets I can hear chirping?

Besides your daily interaction with your husband, if you’re a stay-at-home mom with small children, I’m guessing you could count on one hand the number of meaningful adult conversations you have had this week (and that clever banter you exchanged with the cashier in the Starbucks drive-thru unfortunately doesn’t count).

I’m also guessing that you are well aware of this conversational void in your life.

You feel the need for some fellow mom friends and have a deep desire to talk about something more intellectually stimulating than why Daniel Tiger feels so frustrated.

It would seem, then, that it’s about time you hosted a play date.

The Illusion of the Perfect Play Date

Spoiler alert: The perfect play date is imperfect in almost every way.

It involves you, an imperfect person, inviting other imperfect people into your imperfect home to interact with your imperfect children.

But there’s just something perfect about living your life in the middle of that scenario.

Of course it’s probably easy to invite someone you’ve known forever into your home, but the beauty of parenting is that it often introduces us to new people depending on the season we’re in. It’s not as easy to invite someone you hardly know into your house, but if you’re willing to take a few steps to make it all happen, you might just lay the foundation for some really beautiful, new friendships.

Play dates don’t have to be fancy or elaborate; they just have to be a place where a few moms can get together and connect while their kids play.

So, let’s talk about how insanely easy this can be to set up.

Perfect Play Date Step #1:
Invite Friends

For many moms, this will be, by far, the most difficult step and may already be sending your heart into stress palpitations.

Maybe you’ve been chatting with a fellow mom at preschool pickup for a few weeks now or were introduced at church to a family of four who is new to your area. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known her; I can guarantee this: Every mom needs other mom friends.

I am yet to meet someone who is happy to go through this journey alone.

If you’re a naturally outgoing person, this step will probably come easily to you. For the rest of you (including myself in this category), sometimes it takes a little bit of a pep talk and some prepared “pick-up lines” to invite a new friend over.

I usually just go for it: We’d love to have you over for a play date sometime. Can I have your phone number, so I can text you some free days next week?

I’ve used this line at least four times in the past two years, and guess what?

Nobody has ever said no.

Perfect Play Date Step #2:
Clean (But Just a Little)

Social media often leads us to believe that every other mom manages to keep a pristine home free of dust, dirt, and the general presence of children.

Reality would probably tell us, though, that every other mom is looking through windows streaked with tiny handprints while sitting on a carpet stained with equal parts cold coffee and baby spit-up.

This is our life.

So, don’t go crazy trying to create the pristine illusion when another mom is coming over with her kids. She wants to see your real life. Leave that basket of clean clothes on the couch. Let the dishes sit in the sink. These are not friendship deal breakers.

I’m going to make a radical suggestion: You really only need to clean two areas of your house right before a play date:

  1. The bathroom. (Bonus points if you clean your toddler at the same time.)
  2. The playroom. (Mostly, I mean you should pick up the toys, so the kids have more space to get them all right back out again.)

Vacuum? Optional.

Mop the floors? Optional.

Dust the shelves in the living room? Under no circumstances should this be added to your list of to-dos before a play date.

You live in a real house with real children. Embrace it, and you’ll make your fellow mom friends feel right at home.

Perfect Play Date Step #3:
Make Coffee and Provide Snacks

The word choice here is important. Make coffee. Provide snacks.

Nobody is going to come into your home expecting gourmet pastries baked from scratch.

So, pull out your coffee machine and brew a full pot. Have some cream and sugar on hand and maybe even one of these disposable cups to pour it in (More fun and less clean up that way, right?).

Then pull out the scones you bought at the grocery store the day before or throw together that box mix of pumpkin bread you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Add a box of graham crackers for the kids, a few paper plates, and Voila!

You’re all set.

Perfect Play Date Step #4:
Answer the Door

Everything is ready.

Your house is clean(ish). You have food and, more importantly, caffeine waiting on the table.

All that’s left for you to do is answer the door.

It’s the easiest of 4 easy steps, sure, but it’s also the most meaningful.

By opening that door, you’re welcoming someone into your home and, subsequently, into your life.

It’s imperfectly perfect in every way.

The Perfect Play Date Is Within Reach:
Now, Go Back to Step #1

You know you can think of another mom you’ve been wanting to get to know.

  • That mom you chat with every week at toddler storytime? Exchange numbers already!
  • Those two moms you small talk with each morning while you’re waiting to drop your kids off for preschool? Tell them they should come over next Wednesday while your kids are at school.
  • That new mom who just moved here from out of town? Make her feel more at home by inviting her into yours.

As moms, we need each other in this crazy parenting adventure. Sometimes it’s just up to you to take the first step.

So, go ahead. Start back at Step #1 and see where it takes you!

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