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Planning Playdates and Sleepovers


Remember the time you asked your mother for permission to spend the night at a friend’s house and she exclaimed “No, of course not! You can play during the day, what is the need to spend the night there?”

Times have changed since then and today, parents are more accepting of sleepovers.

What about playdates? When we were young we simply played with the neighbourhood kids in the evenings after school, coming back home sweaty and tired, ready for dinner and sleep. But today, our children have ‘playdates’, where parents schedule the play activity on a particular day and invite other children to it. In fact, playdates are fast becoming yet another avenue to showcase the creativity (and wealth!) of the parents, involving as they do organised entertainment, catering and even return gifts!

But if you are one of those parents who believe in keeping it simple, with the primary objective of a playdate being to get children to have a good time in a safe way, then read on…

Play and the socialisation process

Playdates are very important to the social development of today’s child. Urban children brought up in nuclear families lack many elements of the socialisation process that characterised earlier generations who lived in joint families. Busy parents, aloof neighbours, lack of space (no more gully cricket!) and time (dance class and abacus class and handwriting class and phonics class…..) …these have taken away an important element of childhood – romping around with friends and free play. Playdates give the child an opportunity to interact with her friends outside the formal environment of school, to learn sharing, collaboration and teamwork skills in a socially acceptable manner, and simply, to enjoy her free time with her friends.

Sleepovers take this a step further, fostering a feeling of independence in children and allowing them to feel ‘grown-up’. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

Playdates can be organised for children of pretty much any age, even those as young as one. Of course, be prepared to accompany your child on her playdates for the first few years (until she is around five), after which time she can be dropped off alone at her friend’s place, with a parent to supervise. An added bonus of playdates – parents can also have fun, making new friends with other parents, and getting a chance to indulge in some adult conversation beyond the usual baby talk!

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