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A Play Day for Kids & Parents

Looking to fill out our kids’ summer schedule, our family established a regular, once-a-week play day for our friends and neighbors. We dubbed our play day “Camp Wanna-laffa-lotta.”

It started with an open invitation: Come play at our house every Tuesday morning from 9am-12noon. Bring a water bottle with your name on it, a sack lunch, sunscreen and a lawn chair for Mom or Dad.

We invited about 20 families with children ages infant-to-18. I wondered about inviting teenagers, but the older kids enjoyed visiting with others their age. Here are some guidelines to create a weekly day of kids, friends and fun.

Any family’s schedule will work. We chose Tuesday mornings, but for working moms, a late afternoon with a picnic supper or even a block of weekend time will also work.

Ask friends to bring their own sunscreen, water bottles and picnic lunch. That makes it easier for you and is a great reminder for the other parents that these needs will arise. You can ask parents to take turns bringing an adult snack or to contribute to a salad bar.

Know that not everyone will come every week. We had some families make it a regular part of their week, whileothers were able to come just once over the summer.

Parents will enjoy the activity as much as the kids. Tell the adults that you hope they will join in the fun. You’re not a daycare — you’re hosting a get- together for children and parents alike.

Plan an alternate location.  If you’d rather, you can locate your play day at a local park.  At some parks, you can reserve a picnic spot. Or just take your chances. Be prepared to cancel or adjourn to your house on rain days, or notify families that you’ll meet at a kid-friendly restaurant. Check your church, synagogue or community center. Perhaps you can use a facility free of charge.

Be ready to include those you don’t know well. We opened our invitation to the neighbors. What a great way to model friendship to your kids by including those you don’t know well.

Plan for rain.  Our first rain day took me by surprise. But a few quick calls secured Legos and other indoor activities from friends. Consider an impromptu DVD film festival, especially if you’ve got snacks lined up. 

Plan activities in advance. Ask other parents or teens for help in the planning. Some of our activities included:

  • Tie dying. We provided the dye; our friends brought their own shirts.
  • BYOW (bring your own wheels). Everyone brought a bike, scooter or roller blades and we tore up our cul-de-sac. 
  • Water fun. We round up wading pools and slip ’n’ slides. Notify friends to bring swimsuits, towels and sunscreen.
  • Hopscotch tournament. The boys liked this just as much as the girls. 
  • Field trip. Meet at the pool, a restaurant, the local science museum, an amusement park, the beach, you name it.

Jessica Fisher is a freelance writer.

 

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