How to Host a Relaxing Play Date

Alexandra Kuykendall

Having another mom and her kids over for some playtime can be a lifesaver of conversation and friendship for you and your child. But sometimes our fears of the what-ifs or the desire for perfection in our hostess skills paralyze us and keep us from ever having anyone over. Not to worry, every mom can host a playdate that is relaxing for both moms and kids. I promise, you have it in you. You just need to set your expectations accordingly.

Remember your goal.

Are you hosting a playdate to impress other moms with your Pinterest-level snack making skills? To show them how clean your closets are? Or to spend some time with friends and let your kids have some playtime too? Keeping the big picture in mind from the beginning will help bring your stress level down as you prepare and decide where to focus your time and attention.

Sometimes more is easier.

As far as number of people. I’m not talking an entire block party (that would not be easier), but having three or four moms come over at the same time will help keep conversation going and increase chances of moms and kids making connections. More kids means more chaos and mess. But it can also mean more fun. Enjoy the people while they are with you, the mess can be cleaned up

Keep moms and kids together.

At least the first time a child comes over. You want to get to know another mom and let her get to know you and your space before her child comes for a playdate alone. This takes you out of the role of kid entertainer or referee because every mom is responsible for her own child’s needs. Besides this makes it a playdate for you too. We all need a little company and conversation. And if it’s with someone you don’t know so well, you’ll know her better after a few hours.

Designate an area of the house for the playdate.

It could be the kitchen and playroom, the backyard or even the park down the street. If you know the parts of your home your guests are likely to see, you can focus on getting those areas ready and let go of the rest. Don’t even think about cleaning the master bathroom if no one is going to see it. And if they do, who cares? You are giving another mom the gift of knowing sometimes other people have dirty bathrooms too.

Minimize food stress.

By taking a meal (like lunch) out of the equation, you remove the stress of significant food preparation and cost. If there are preschoolers involved, nap schedules tend to make mornings better than afternoons for gatherings. Offer coffee and some special mommy treats (this is your playdate too after all) and a little fruit and crackers for kids. Let moms know they are welcome to bring any snacks their kids are particularly fond of (you are not responsible to meet the demands of every picky eater) and ask if there are any food allergies ahead of time to make sure they are not being served.

Have an end time.

Two hours is a good stretch to be together. It’s long enough to have some quality conversation and about the length most preschoolers can handle. Besides an end time helps guests plan their day too. The nice thing about playdates, is unlike group vacations or camping trips, they’re meant to be bursts of friend time. Ending while everyone is not too tired and still happy-ish will make it fun to anticipate the next time you get to have a playdate.

I promise, you can do this. Friendship is important for you and your child. By hosting a playdate with another mom or group of moms, you are modeling to your child the value of friend time.

What is your secret to a successful playdate?

Alexandra Kuykendall
As a mom to four girls, ages 3 to 12, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She writes to capture the places where motherhood meets everyday life to remember the small, yet significant moments in the midst of the blur. She is the author of The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir , a contributor to this year’s Be you, Bravely, An Experiment in Courage and acts as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at