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How to host an easy, no-stress playdate

Once I perfected the art of the minimalist playdate, I felt up for having friends over much more often.

How to host an easy, no-stress playdate

When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any "hostess of the year" awards—but I am totally okay with that. We keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home.


I will admit, it wasn't always this way for me.

After having my first child, I tried to do it all. I made an elaborate spread of snacks to meet all dietary requirements and taste preferences. Then I smiled politely while small children mashed raspberries into my white sofas (ugh, for real). All this while I spent the time running around cleaning up the never-ending disaster of toys in the house.

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When I gave up on trying to be the hostess with the mostest, I found that I relaxed. Once I perfected the art of the minimalist playdate, I felt up for having friends over much more often. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Set an end time

I totally get it. Sometimes as parents we are desperate for social interaction. Our kids are also desperate for kid interaction. But I have had more than one playdate guest overstay their welcome. To make things easy, be sure to invite your guests over for a set time frame—give an end time. That way the playdate doesn't disrupt your normal schedule, and you can resume your normal activities like naps, cooking dinner or just decompressing if you need it.

BYOS (Bring your own snack)

If you are having multiple guests, ask them to bring a contribution for a group snack. If you are having a single guest, just give them a heads up to, "Feel free to bring any snacks that you or your kiddos might like—we are running low on options." This will save you the mental energy of planning a snack that meets the likes and needs of everyone.

Clear out the toys

In my early days of playdates, I would spend the whole time running around the playroom cleaning up the disaster that abounded. I didn't want children to step on and break the toys. I also felt like the mess all over the floor was inhibiting their ability to play together.

The beauty of a playdate is that children have each other for entertainment. That means they actually need fewer toys and more open space to play. So avoid the mess and chaos by loading up some toys and putting them in another room for the event.

Skip the Pinterest activity

Don't feel like you should plan a special activity. As children grow and develop, it's important that we let them guide their own play—that means fewer organized activities. By skipping the arts and crafts hour, you will feel more relaxed. From a brain development standpoint, your kids will benefit more from unstructured play and movement. Unstructured play is necessary for healthy social, emotional and physical development.

Get outside

I have rarely been invited to an outdoor playdate. Research shows us that time spent outdoors not only reduces our stress levels, makes us happier, but also optimizes brain development. Kids love to be outside, but parents are usually the ones who prefer to spend time in the temperature-controlled house.

Upon invite, specify that you will be outdoors so that all parties can dress properly.

Be present

Are you running around prepping snacks, cleaning up toys, and breaking up arguments? Because that sounds exhausting. As a parent, you are entitled to sit down. I encourage you to sit down and enjoy your company, tuning into the conversation and camaraderie that playdates bring to parents.

Enforce your own rules

Every home has different rules, and it's completely okay for you to communicate the rules in your home. I struggled to do this in my early days of parenting, but after I had a half dozen 2-year-olds climbing up and eating raspberries on my white sofa, I knew I had to speak up.

Enforcing rules of the home is not only in the best interest of your white sofa, but it's in the best interest of your kids. I want my kids to see me standing up for our family rules and values so that they understand the importance of doing the same.

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

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    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

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