Image by Brooklyn
This is a guest post from a gorgeous friend of mine Cate, who has recently started a blog herself! It is called Keep Cate Busy and she is certainly doing that! The aim of the blog is to take on a challenge to make every day a little bit special. Cate has been busy making lots of things. A couple of my favourites are these beautiful dove gift cards and these sweet felt dove and snowflake Christmas ornaments – you should go and check them out!
I’m working on making our home as friend-friendly as possible…which basically means trying not to say ‘no’ when the kiddos spring one of those dreaded unplanned playdate requests on you. But let’s face it; I’m not the most organised of people. My house is not eternally spotless. I do not have fresh cut flowers on display 24/7. The dishes pile up. The washing piles up. And if I had a blog like Planning Queen’s it would undoubtedly be called ‘Unplanned with Kids’!
This does however put me in the unique position of actually being pretty good at coping with the dreaded unplanned playdate. So I’ve come up with 10 little suggestions to help you back down off that ledge the next time you get met with the little doe-eyed lovely saying ‘please mummy, just this once, she really likes me and she’s my new best friend…’
So here’s Cate’s top 10 tips for hosting an impromptu playdate…
1. Sneaky House Tidy
My first problem is always an imperfect house. And I hate people to see it in all its imperfect glory…which is a problem if I’m going to agree to all this playdate madness. Answer: my sneaky 10 minute house tidy:
- dirty dishes…go in the oven
- unfolded washing…goes either back into the dryer or into one of those magical, sent from heaven, ginormous blue IKEA bags and poked into a cupboard
- newspapers, magazine, unopened mail…blue IKEA bag
- toys…yes, blue IKEA bag
- then finish by wiping down every surface with baby wipes
2. Lots Of Kids
My second tip might seem counter-intuitive – but it often works best to have more kids over. Not all for the one playdate, but if you have more than one child, a friend for each of them usually works out as less work (and stress) for you. If one sibling is left out there will inevitably be fighting and tears before bedtime…so take a deep breath and round up a couple more kiddos to tear apart your house!
3. Easy Baking Treats
One quick look around the kitchen and you realise that the slightly brown banana in what you have been optimistically calling the fruit bowl will not do for afternoon tea. And come on, if you did have a stash of biscuits/chips/chocolates etc you’d have eaten them all by now anyway. So what to do? Answer: milo muffins. Just add a couple of tablespoons of milo to a plain muffin recipe and 20 minutes later ta da… yummy muffins that didn’t need any special-order ingredients! And your house will smell fab!
4. No Baking Treats
Another even quicker home-cooked snack is popcorn. So make sure you own one of those popcorn airpopping machines. Not only does it provide 10 minutes of great popping entertainment, you get a healthy snack they love! And again, your house will smell fab!
5. Movie Time!
This popcorn can then be cunningly combined with a DVD and called movie-night! (or movie mid-afternoon depending…). Everything is always much more appealing to kiddos when it has a special title.
6. The Park
‘The park’ must truly be one of the most brilliant inventions of all time. You can keep your electron microscopes and particle accelerators. Just give me a park within walking distance, and smidge of sunshine and I’m a happy mum.
But wait, what if it’s pouring with rain outside. No problems. Do you own textas/crayons/coloured pencils? Of course you do. Do you own a printer and have access to the internet? Well, dah. Answer: printable colour-ins. Print off about 4 million, spread them out on the floor and go get yourself a cup of tea.
8. Water Fun
And while we’re on the topic of making something with nothing, there’s always water play – a couple of ice cream containers filled with water and enough paint brushes to go around will keep them happy outside. Or maybe a little tea party if you’re stuck inside? It doesn’t have to be best china (or even a teapot) – kids have limitless imaginations!
9. The Extended Play
Did you somehow agree for this playdate to extend into dinner, but have nothing prepared? Answer: toasted sandwiches. Easy ingredients include:
then, serve with salad and voila…a balanced meal!!
10. Let Them Play
Remember that the kiddos would generally be happy in an empty room. They will have fun regardless because they are together. It is usually only the parents who stress about everything else. So try to keep the stress-monster under control and let the kiddos do what they do best – play!
Hope this helps the next time one of yours says ‘pleeeeeease, mum?’
Thanks for reading…
Loved some of these short cuts Cate and at this incredibly busy time of the year, I would also love to hear your favourite short cuts when the kids have friends over.