Creative Mom-Approved Playdate Ideas


Every day when I pick up my 4-year-old son from school, he runs up to me asking if the friend he’s playing with at the time can come over. “When can Steven come over?” “When can Ryan come over?” “When can Sammy come over?” “Mommy, do you still talk to Simon’s mommy?”

I’m thrilled he’s making friends at school and always try to encourage and nurture the friendships he’s building in the classroom, but doing so usually means planning play dates on “home days,” as my son calls them. My son always seems to enjoy play dates, but there is a lot of responsibility for parents that comes with them. When parents have playdates, they’re basically doubling their responsiblilities.

I don’t know about you, but I take watching another person’s child very seriously. The pressure is on for providing them both fun and safety while they’re under my care. I quickly learned as a new parent that letting my 2-year-old and his friend jump off my King sized bed into a large pillow pile on the floor is not an acceptable play date activity (however fun it may be).

If my son is going to be a (successful) socialite, I needed to be more prepared. That’s when I started a small bank of summer play date ideas that I could pull out at a moment’s notice. Here are a few of the kid-tested, Kiddie Academy Mom-approved ideas that keep playing fun and, above all, safe:

  • Obstacle Course: Set up an awesome, backyard or basement obstacle course for little ones made of things like hoola hoops, foam pool noodles, cardboard boxes, ropes and buckets – all things that are probably already sitting in your garage. Have the kids make their own uniforms with $5 t-shirts from Michaels, a few markers and maybe a head sweatband for good photo opportunities. Have them race, have them relay, have them tired at the end.
  • Sprinkler Time: For when little friends want to come over on a school night, a short, sweet, but meaningful and refreshing run through the sprinkler in the front yard during the summertime is the perfect (and brief) activity for playdates. Kids run through the sprinkler a few times or ride bikes through the sprinkler and have some pizza after. Pick up time is always before 8 p.m., right when bedtime is anyway. Perfect timing.
  • Car Wash: Host a car wash for your little one and a few of his friends. But instead of washing the family vehicle, build a washing station for the kids to clean their bigger dump trucks, tractors, bicycles, scooters, Barbie cars, fire trucks or excavator toys. Try an assembly style washing or just different stations for each kid. They’re bound to have fun getting a little wet, cleaning their prized possessions and playing with kid-friendly soap.
  • Hit the library: Our local public library has been a safe haven for playdates on summer days when the temperatures are over 100 degrees. It’s safe, quiet and air-conditioned, and our public library has small play areas with learning toys like a puppet show booth, legos and kitchenette, along with all of the amazing book selections for kids. Everyone gets to check out a book for their bedtime read and best of all – it’s all free.
  • Kiddie Pool: The small, $22 inflatable kiddie pool I bought my kids for the backyard this summer has possibly gotten even more use than our $800/season pool club membership. There is something about a pool being right off the deck in the back yard that is convenient and fun. This little 90” by 20” round pool we have on the lawn has resulted in endless safe fun for my kids and their many friends on days we weren’t up to lugging the towels and pool supplies to the neighborhood swim spot.

For families with active kids in the summer who may not have the attention span for a pizza-making date or cookie-decorating, these ideas really help release some pent up energy. We’ve also had a lot of fun doing ride-on playdates (with all of our ride-on toys), breaking out the bubble machine and even doing game nights.

Whatever you do, have fun, be safe and get excited for the next time when your kid has a playdate at someone else’s house!

Kiddie Academy Mom

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