Playdate Help

Updated on June 19, 2012
J.S. asks from Saint Louis, MO
13 answers

Hi mamas,

My son is almost 5 and this will be our first play date! This is his best friend he's had all through preschool and he has left school for the summer. I put a note in his friend's cubby for his parents before he left giving them my number so we could schedule a play date. Well we have one for this Thursday. His mom talked about dropping him off at our house. Now, here are my questions:
How long do playdates usually last?
Am I expected to provide a snack?
Should I have the mom drop him off or stay during the playdate?
If she stays, should I have refreshments?
Sorry for all of the questions. I just want to be a good host and I gotta admit, I'm ridiculously shy. I'm nervous to even call the mom tonight to confirm. LOL!! Any advice is appreciated!

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answers from San Francisco on

Play dates are usually about 2 hrs - 3 tops. I would definitely plan to provide a snack. Ask the mom for her child's favorites.

As for drop off or stay, let the mom decide which she's most comfortable with. At five, I would drop him off. But if she does stay, you should at least have something to drink and perhaps some little cookies or veggies with dip or something.

Have fun. This will undoubtedly be the first of many!

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Sacramento on

I've done a ton of playdates over the years, so here are my two cents:
1. Limit the playdate to 2 hours max. Kids start fighting after that and/or get bored.
2. Yes, you'll want to provide a snack. Ask the mom in advance if there are any food allergies or diet restrictions. You don't want to offer a cookie to a child of crunchy granola type parents, for example.
3. Parents usually just drop off, but some stay the first time. You don't need to have anything fancy for the mom. Just offer what you have on hand.

Have fun!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

No, if you don't know the parent and this is just a playmate, then the child is dropped off and you specify a pick-up time. For the first one, don't go too long. 2-3 hours tops. Yes, you absolutely provide snacks - ask the parents if there are any allergies and that will clue them in that you're providing. If she talked about dropping off, then she's not planning to stay. When you say "play date" the parent assumes it's for the kids and she's gonna have some time for herself! Less than 2 hours is no time for her, and more than 3 is pushing it if the kids get sick of each other.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Play date for 2 to 3 hours. Yes, serve lunch or snack.

Give mom the option.
, she is welcome to stay, or drop him off. If she stays, yes offer her a snack.

I always went over our house rules while mom was there.
No running in the house. Must ask permission to play outside so I could go with them. Must ask permission to use the tv... Use inside voices.. If they get hungry to let mr know, so I can help them. Please do not go into rooms where the door is closed.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You'll get a wide range of responses on this one!
I hated it when the mom stayed, it was so awkward. I invited kids over so my kids could play with their friends, not so I could sit and have idle chit chat with someone I don't really know. I've got a lot of other stuff I'd rather be doing!
If she's comfortable leaving her son with you, then great! You won't really need to do anything, at that age they play so well on their own. I always had snacks available of course, and I would usually tell the mom to come back in about three hours. Though sometimes, if the kids were really doing well together we'd invite the friend to stay for dinner too :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I do not do any playdates at peoples houses. We meet at an acceptable place where the kids can play and each person watches their own child. This way if it is not going well one can make excuses and leave early.

I also like that damage to the home can't happen. If the child gets upset and wants his mom he is with a stranger and may feel more upset.

I just don't do this like you are planning. It's not free babysitting, it's a playdate where the parents stay and visit and get to know each other. If your kids end up being friends for years you should know each other very well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Length? Estimate a max (2 hrs. for example) Then play it by ear. Make that known. Let the other mom know that you will be done with the play date when they start getting bored and sick of looking at each other. There's nothing worse than 2 bored kids. BUT If it's going can last longer...the whole 2 hours or beyond that IF agreed upon.
My son always "played better and happier" with certain kids -- not necessarily his best buds -- it's a play style thing.
Let the mom decide what she's comfortable doing--staying or dropping him off. Or a combo of the two. And it's OK to ask her if she'd like a bottle of water or some iced tea while she's there.
Ask about food allergies, then toss out a snack or two if they seem interested.
Can you tell we have kids almost constantly at our house? LOL

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Hi J..
We also just started the PDs this year...and i am often shy as are some suggestions:
1. I usually like to start a PD with a small snack and end with a small snack. This way I ensure they start off together and end together in the event that in the middle they decide to play alone but next to each other....

2. i usually keep them 90 mins - 2 hours tops. I would rather keep a pd shorter than longer so that no one gets tired or bored or least the first time....

3. Perhaps the first time I would invite the mom and you guys can sit and have a coffe while the boys play. It is also ok not depends on the friendship and the dynamic.

hope this helps. it will be fine. you sound like a great momma that really cares.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

When the boys were little (3 or 4) playdates usually happened outside the home, lasted about 2 hours, and both moms stayed. By the time the kids were 5, and already used to going to school and being away from mom we started doing drop offs. The usual drop off would last 3 or 4 hours and include a small snack. I might invite a mom in the first time to see where the kids will be playing, and to introduce myself and find out if there was anything I should know about the child. After that, I would expect her to leave, because I don't really want to entertain someones mom all afternoon:) It is good manners to reciprocate a playdate so it doesn't turn into babysitting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Two hours is a good amount of time, especially if it will be his first time at your house. Any longer and the kids will start to bicker, get tired and cranky, etc.

Yes, provide a snack, but make sure the mom is ok with what you're planning to serve before you feed him anything.

Drop off vs staying - whatever you are both comfortable with. At five years old, dropoff playdates become much more common

If she stays, it's nice to offer a little something to eat, but don't go crazy. Some fruit or cheese & crackers is plenty.

Have fun!



answers from Phoenix on

How fun!

Length really depends on how the play date is going & how well you know them. I think a normal length of time is 2 hours, give or take.

Yes, provide snacks for the kids. It's a nice thing to do & part of "play date" culture, I think.

At 5, I would stay, especially if we didn't know each other that well.

Yes, I would have some refreshments, finger foods on hand in case the mom stays.

Last of all, relax & have fun!! Just be open & be yourself. Don't think too much. Good luck, you'll do great!

P.S. I think it's super cute that you're so worried :-)


answers from Kansas City on

Snacks yes, mom, no. Just ask the mom if there are food allergies and you tell her what time to pick him up. If it is in the morning, then before lunch or provide lunch for him. If it is after lunch then just have a snack and tell the mom around 4 pm. That will give 2-3 hours. If it is hot outside, then plan some water activities for them outside at some point. Always a hit. Good luck and God Bless.



answers from Sacramento on

If mom is dropping off, ask about any food allergies.

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