Back to School is a fun-filled time for kids, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones – and that means one thing: play dates. Sometimes navigating the “social correctness” of play date safety is tough for working moms. Besides being busy with managing a business and the day-to-day family routine, we don’t want to appear rude by asking too many nosy questions.
Don’t let the awkwardness stop you from ensuring a safe and successful play date. Follow these important play date safety rules before agreeing to host or send your child off on a play date!
#1: Meet in person – If this is an afterschool play date and you’ve never met the parents, drive your child over to the home rather than allowing the kids to take the bus together. Or, if the play date is at your house, insist on the child being dropped off so you have a chance to meet the mom. Find out who will be in charge during the play date – will the mom be there the entire time or will an older sibling or babysitter be in charge? Do you feel confident that a teenage sibling or babysitter would know what to do in an emergency? Don’t be afraid to ask if the person has been CPR and First Aid Certified.
#2: Don’t waiver on car seat safety – My 7-year-old is very small for her age and, by law, is required to still be in a booster seat. Many of her friends do not have a booster seat but actually should use one. Invest in an extra booster seat so if you are transporting a child that should be in one you have it and, if the play date is at a friend’s home, you leave your child’s booster seat for them to use.
#3: Find out about allergies – Be sure to find out if the child has any allergies so you can plan accordingly. If your child is visiting a friend’s home and is younger than 5 years of age, make sure you explain to the parent what foods you consider choking hazards and don’t allow.
#4: Ask about safety gear – If the play date will include bicycles, scooters or any other riding toy, be sure that there are enough helmets to wear. Always keep an extra at your house for such occasions. Also, find out if the family has a trampoline. Trampolines are one of the leading causes of serious injury for children and, in fact, many pediatricians urge parents to get rid of them if they have them. Children under six should never be on a trampoline and older kids should only go on alone. Be sure that there is a net around the trampoline as well.
#5: Get a picture/take a picture – If your child will be visiting a mall, amusement park or other public venue, provide the mother with a recent photo of your child in case he or she gets lost. Likewise, if you are taking another child somewhere, ask for a recent photo to keep with you.
#6: Are there dogs in the home? – Even the friendliest dog can bite if a child goes near their food or pulls on their tail. Find out if there are pets in the home and where they are kept. Explain your concern and ask if the animal might be kept away during the play date.
#7: Ask if there is a gun in the home – Your child might never have seen or touched a gun, but if one is in sight you don’t know what he or she might do. If there is a gun at a friend’s home, you might consider moving the play date to your house.
Every parent has different rules and ideas so make sure you clearly communicate your beliefs and help your child have a safe and fun play date.
Did you find this Parenting 101 column helpful? Subscribe to our RSS Feed!