From tunnels in the garden to tiaras from the fancy dress box, playdates have just stepped up a gear
Ah the playdate. The highlight of your toddler’s social calendar – and a brilliant chance for you to charm the other mums at the nursery gates.
Before, it might’ve been a case of chucking a load of toys over the floor and letting your kids play freestyle (OK, that probably still works) but these days, you can get a bit creative with your ideas – so the kids have fun and *whisper it* you might even manage a 10-minute catch up while they’re occupied.
And the best news? It doesn’t need to take loads of prep or cost a fortune.
Round and round the garden
Weather permitting, set up a mini obstacle course in the garden to get the kids active in the fresh air.
Think balls to kick about, plastic cones (or a few old jumpers) to navigate their way around, and one of those waterproof play tunnels to crawl through.
Play Mary Berry
Toddlers love the creative process – the actual ‘getting there’ can even be more fun that the result – so have a biscuit-baking session. Your toddlers can help you mix ingredients and then ice and decorate.
Everyone has something to take home and there’s a good sense of a playdate start, middle and end, so you feel organised and things don’t drag on.
Get a bit artistic
If you don’t want to send kids (and grumbling parents) home covered in paint, you can still get crafty. Your toddlers can make works of art on paper with wool and material scraps, or use pasta shells to make faces.
This is a nice activity they can do together or individually if you can’t quite foster their BFF status <just> yet.
Leave the house
Park nearby? Arrange to meet there. It gives you a bit more flexibility and also takes the hostess pressure off.
Even if there aren’t toddler-friendly ride-ons in the playground, you can use the open space to play tag or with a ball.
Play dress up
Put together a fancy dress box with any outfits you already have or even some clothes of yours (or your partner's) you’re happy to get a bit grubby.
Let the children choose what they’d like to wear for imaginary play
Let the children choose what they’d like to wear and you can start some imaginary play based on that – introducing the living room adventures of the pirate and dragon.
Time to go home? Let them know they have five more minutes, then four, then three, and round up their game with the pirate sailing off into the distance.
Create a treasure hunt
Wrap up little parcels of healthy snacks or pocket money toys to hide around the living room or in the garden. Then send the kids searching.
If they seem unsure at first, find the first one together so you can show them how exciting it is. This keeps everyone active and exploring.
Make a piñata
You know, those incredible creations that drop loads of treats when you hit them with a stick? OK, so we’re not suggesting you go papier mâché mad here – you left those days firmly at the school gates – but this is a different way to get your kids active.
Simply fill a bucket or box with a few toys and a load of confetti, encourage the kids to jump up while you hold it. When someone touches it, you can tip the contents out. Genius!
Just make sure there are enough goodies for everyone – no one likes piñata politics.