Does any other mama out there have a seriously social kid who insists on playing with friends for every waking hour of the day? I mean, my son loves when friends come over so much that he pretty much sobs uncontrollably whenever it's time for them to go home. Every. Time.
And I have pretty much had enough of that nonsense, mamas.
So if you're in a similar situation, and you're over your littles melting down every time it's time to say 'See ya later' to their friends at the end of the day, then hopefully some of these tips will help you for any future playdates you have coming up!
This is something that I struggle to do BIG TIME, because if I get my son involved in the conversation too early, I will not stop hearing about it all day every day until it happens. And I just cannot keep answering the "when are they coming over?", "what day is it gonna be a playdate?", "where is my friend?", and "how many more minutes?" questions on an endless loop.
That being said, once you have a playdate set up, make sure and let your little know what the plan is. If you have a calendar on the fridge, show them the day when their friend is coming over, and count with them about when it will be. I also think it's a good idea to prepare your little to remember that they'll need to do things like take turns, share their toys, and offer to help their friend while they're at our home playing.
Preparing them beforehand allows them to be excited for their playdate, allows you to explain when it's happening, and also gives you the opportunity to tell them for (roughly) how long the playtime will be, and you can continue to repeat that, "Your friend will come over in the morning and go home after lunch," enough times that they won't feel blindsided when it's time for the fun to end.
Don't Waste Time
I think this is something that we can all be guilty of, especially in a house like mine when the TV is on way too much, and it is used (probably too often) to let my littles have some chill time. My recommendation is don't waste playdate time on screen time. If you have limited time with your little's friend, then keep them off the couch, and let them do things that you wouldn't normally do.
Just a quick example, and something that I had my son and his friend do today during their playdate was play with the totally annoying and frustrating marble run toy, because it is something that we don't normally do, and they had a BLAST! They also had animal crackers while playing a board game, we walked to the park and they got all their wiggles and energy out, and then they played race cars before it was time to head home.
Keeping them off the couch while they have a friend over means that when it is time for the friend to leave, hopefully your little won't put up a huge stink by saying, "BUT we didn't get to do... " Literally insert any activity in the blank. Let them do it all (within reason) so that when it is time to leave your babe doesn't feel cheated.
Timing is Key
It's important to remember that there are good times to have a friend over and there are not as good times to have a friend over. And these times are going to look completely different for every family, and will change from day-to-day for some families.
I always recommend not "squeezing in" a playdate where one doesn't belong. In our home, a playdate simply doesn't belong in the afternoon after our littlest girl wakes up from naps. We're all a little cranky, and there's not a lot of time (or energy) to do much before it's time to get dinner started, and the mad dash of bedtime. But just because that's our schedule, doesn't mean that it's everyone. And letting your littles know that the family has a schedule that doesn't depend on just them is a tough but true lesson every little will learn.
The hope here is that by not having a friend over during a normally stressful/tiring/hectic time of day for mama, where your littles will only feed off your stress, and instead make them for days/times when we have time, energy, and no plans pushing us to rush.
Looking Forward to Next Time
So my little guy has a hard time with the end of playdates, and I can totally understand why-- after he's had so much fun playing with his friend and doing things that we don't always do when it's just the two of us or with baby and the pup, and with everything we have going on during the average day, the last thing he wants to do is sit at home alone (well, with me and his sister and his dog) waiting for Daddy to come home.
However, I think it's important for our littles to learn that there are times in our day that are filled with fun and travel and play and exercise, and there are times in our day that are filled with rest and quiet and relaxing. And even if he doesn't want to "chill" the same way that I would, he can still play games and read books and play with toys, but they are all together different and more independent than the ones he would play during a playdate with his friends.
That being said, make sure that your little is having the experience of having friends over to his house, and he is playing with friends at their place to give him the confidence that even when one day of play is over, there are going to be more in the future, so there's no reason to be sad! Reminding them that they'll see their friend at school in a couple of days, or that they'll be able to come over next week or that we'll see them at the park will help them to recognize that they have tons of opportunities to see and play with their friends!