Playdates, and Responsible Parenting: Suggestions for Phase-2 Socializing

Parents face the unenviable task of deciding if and when their kids can enjoy playdates for the first time in months. This unofficial guide provides a criteria for parents to consider… because a summer without playdates will otherwise drive them insane.

Any parent who states that their home life, during quarantine, has improved with the absence of playdates for their children is flat-out lying.

Kids need to socialize—to share experiences, communicate, run and chase each other, but most of all they need to bond with their friends.

Case in point: my family went on a drive last night and we drove past a mother and son walking by and stopped when we noticed the child was my boy’s fellow Kindergarten classmate. They had not seen each other for nearly two months.

The result…the kids freaked out in excitement! One would have thought these boys were soulmates or long lost twin brothers, and their smiles could not be contained.

What are parents to do as summer approaches to better prepare themselves and their children? In regions where infections are declining, and society is opening up, how can one stay vigilant while managing the social needs of their children?

Here’s a thought – use common sense.

The following represents a suggested criteria for parents to use when they decide whom to socialize with. It is not meant to shame those, for example, who work in the healthcare field. In that instance, parents whose profession is tethered to caring for sick individuals come with risks. Let’s be honest—they are lifesavers – God bless them.

But should our kids play with children whose parents are exposed to hospital environments? The same goes for parents who work in nursing homes.

If you live in a city where infections have dropped significantly, but your cousin and their kids live in another region where they have spiked, one has to give pause and consider the consequences.

And lastly, if a life-long friend wants to pop by for a BBQ, but you know he or she is not vigilant about social distancing, that too represents a risk to you and your family’s health.

What if all signs are clear and your region’s infection rate is well below the spike?

My suggestion: put fear aside, because if you and your guests are honest and forthcoming, and they pass the litmus test in the visual above – let the kids play.

Here are three additional suggestions to empower you with the confidence to schedule playdates:

  • Keep Everything Outdoors: With the exception of bathroom breaks, everyone should remain outside the home. Set up some games for the kids to play and keep the beers/cocktails in a cooler outside and packed with ice for the adults.
  • Sanitizer Works: Place a bottle on the table, instruct everyone to use it when they arrive, and make sure the kids use it before and after they eat.
  • Low-Risk Playing: Why take a risk with lawn darts if it results in a trip to the hospital. So… tell the kids to stop climbing the trees, use a wiffle ball (not a baseball), and no running with sharp objects or sticks.

If any child breaks a rule, there’s a mandatory 15-minute time out, period!

Regarding the criteria image above, work outwards and make sure all boxes are checked, then put fear aside and schedule some fun outdoor playdates for everyone.

And yes, your children are likely fifty times more “clingly” compared to pre-covid days. Promote autonomy so you and your fellow parents can chill and enjoy an adult conversation for the first time since forever.

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy these as well:

Quarantine and the Family Dinner: Guidelines to Maintain Parental Sanity

Cure for the Convid Cooking Conundrum: Spaghetti Aglio e’ Olio

Drumming with my Son for Pandemic-Related Charities: Great Beats and Life Lessons

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