The Sunday Parenting Party - Taking Playdates Outdoors
Its time for the Sunday Parenting Party. Please link up any parenting posts offering tips and tricks, anecdotes on your life whether wonderful or woeful (we can all relate!), requests for advice or general rants all welcome. Please don't link kids activity posts, these can be linked to the Kids Coop. This week I am linking the following:
Recently, despite the cold weather we have been having more playdates outdoors than indoors. I really enjoy outdoor playdates and I thought I'd explain why I think they can make for a better meet up.
I often find when I'm at other people's houses on playdates I tell Goblin off for things I wouldn't do at home. The trouble is that different families have different rules. When you are at someone elses house you need to respect their rules, but often they aren't obvious. There are unwritten rules and it can be a minefield working out what is, and isn't acceptable. Even minor things like allowing your child to walk around while eating a snack can turn out to be a major faux pas. Or the family may divide their toys into outdoor and indoor toys. If you don't operate that system in your own home trying to explain that to your toddler or preschooler can be quite stressful.
If you have your playdate in a park or wood it means you are on neutral ground. Neither you, now your parenting friends need to play by each others rules. This takes some of the pressure off you and your children.
2. Less Squabbling over sharing
Even on better play dates, if there are toys involved there will be squabbling. Even the nicest of kids will have the occasional issue over sharing a much loved item, and some kids just have to have what ever their friend is playing with. This can be difficult if you are hosting a play date or if you are visiting. Hosting parents feel they need to encourage their children to give up toys that are rightfully theirs, while visiting parents feel guilty that their child is trying to play with something that isn't theirs and is upsetting the host child.
With outdoor playdates the focus tends to be on running around rather than playing with toys, so there tend to be less squabbles. The toys kids do find are natures own - sticks, leaves, moss and stones - there are usually lots of these so no need to fight over who gets what.
The only time I find the 'less squabbles' thing doesn't hold true is when one of the parents breaks the 'rules' and brings a toy without telling the other parents. So their kid is the only one with a ball or a bucket etc.
3. Great Exercise
When kids get outdoors they tend to burn off more energy by running around and climbing. Not only is this great for their health, but they tend to be less likely to throw tantrums when they can reales any stress by running and playing.
I have also found that I get a chance to do some exercise, running after Goblin or just going for a really long walk. Often this is the only exercise I'll get in a week so I relish it.
4. Adults can join the fun
Lets face it, a lot of the activities that toddlers and preschoolers choose to do indoors aren't exactly thrilling. I get bored of playing cars and trains quite quickly. But outdoors walking through the woods or climbing trees or swinging on a swing, that will never bore me.
5. Space to chat
Have you ever been on a playdate where you really want to have a good old moan to your mummy chums about how your week's been, how terrible your kid was, or how miserable you are? But you can't right, because your child is playing directly infront of you and it would be a really inappropriate conversation for your child to hear? Well outdoor playdates give you that opportunity because your kids can be much much further away and you can still keep an eye on them but they can't hear what you are talking about.
If you think that's selfish look at it this way, your child is also benefiting from having space from you that they probably don't get that often. It gives them a bit of autonomy and freedom.