The Five Rules of Play Dates


Just this week, a friend of mine mentioned a play date she had organised for her child and her friend’s child and it lasted seven hours.


The lady arrived at 10am and didn’t leave until 5pm. It’s like a whole days work and probably three days when you think she must have had to clean up before she came and, after seven hours of play, it may well have taken her a week to clear up. Not to mention meals, refreshments and naps for the children.

It got me thinking about the unwritten rules of playdates at home. With Boo being five, we have had our fair share so here are my top five tips on play dates. What to do and what not to do to ensure you get invited back.

1.Adhere to a strict time limit. I like to think of it like a morning and afternoon session. Mornings begin at 10am and would end at 12 noon for lunch. Afternoon sessions are probably 2-5pm so an hour longer. No one wants to outstay their welcome, do they?


2.Always take something. I am guilty of forgetting sometimes but as a host, it is always nice when guests turn up with some fairy cakes or cookies.


3.Help tidy up before you leave or, at least offer to help. One time, my lounge looked like it had been burgled by toy thieves. I didn’t mind. The children had played lovely. The other mums offered to help tidy up but I declined but I was so happy they asked.


4. Try and keep the children in one area. Some children play in their bedrooms, others have a dedicated play rooms or in the living room. Thankfully we have a baby gate on the stairs to the bedrooms. It would be my worst nightmare for more than one area to be messed up. Policing play dates is hard. Invest in child proof baby gates.

5.If you get invited to someone’s house, it is only manners to invite them back to yours at a later date. Living on a farm means our house is probably much more exciting to children but there have been a number of times when I have felt totally used and that some people have had a free day out at our petting farm without ever dreaming of inviting us to their house. That just isn’t good manners.

Have you ever been burnt by a play date? What would your rules be?


  1. 7 hours? That’s a very long time! So important not to outstay ones welcome. We’re not quite at the formal play date stage yet – not in terms of reciprocal invites to each others house anyway. So I haven’t had to give much thought to the hows of it. However, your tips are fab; they remind me of some of the things I’ve come across on this issue. Thanks for sharing. #MaternityMondays

  2. Ohmygosh, 7 hours?!!!! I would be exhausted after that time, let alone the kids! We have regular playdates within our group of friends and throughout the Summer we took it in turns to host and the host would provide lunch. I’m not too concerned about mess in my house but it’s always lovely when friend offer to help tidy, I always tell them no though as I find it easier to do it myself because I know where things live! #maternitymondays

  3. This is great, we usually take a packet of biscuits if we haven’t had time to bake something. I would never dream of staying past a mealtime unless it was a close friend and if it was arranged. We have had a few day long playdates which were great but they are really tiring and we definitely help to tidy up. #maternitymondays

  4. I’d never even considered that there might be unwritten rules for playdates, so I am probably a terrible guest, but I don’t think I would stay seven hours. I tend to find I want out way before that! #MaternityMondays

  5. Oh my goodness, I have heard of similar playdates that never end but thankfully never had one and would never dream of overstaying my welcome! Love all your points, a specially with the thought being what counts. I rarely accept help with the clear up but do always appreciate the offer! Horrible you have felt used in the past lovely, really horrible people would be that impolite! Xx

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