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PlayDate Initiative

By Michell Muldoon

It Takes Initiative To Get Kids To Play

Play is a rare luxury for most kids in this country.
In today’s world, children live a life that is over-scheduled. Children go from school, to after-hours day care, sports, music and dance lessons or other types of after-school activities. There are also the very important extracurricular studies that are required in CCD classes, Bible school, Hebrew school lessons and church choirs. There are incredible experiences to be had in Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YMCA programs and all sorts of other wonderful offerings that are available for kids. Although there is richness in these types of opportunities, what they are missing is simple, basic play. The kind of free-form play that helps children to negotiate other kids personalities, solve problems and develop tools to teach them something about the strength of their own inner character.

This type of knowledge is learned through personal interaction, exposure to the same groups of people, and the time to figure it out on their own. What has happened to personal time and core communities for kids is that it has become as extinct as the Dinosaurs we are so ready to haul them off to see at the local museums!

Sadly, there are also a tremendous amount of children who sit alone, without a parent or guardian present and no children to play with. There are working mothers who barely have enough time or money to put food on the table, let alone worry about a child’s need to play.

There is also another facet to this problem. And that is, we as parents want to be with our children, and to share in the amazing experiences that are available to them. But as wonderful and as stimulating as so many of these programs are, we need to give our children a time to play.

What I propose here is to have group playdates. To find a great group of people and create occasions to get together. This way children can have friends, and grown ups get the chance to socialize as well in an informal, casual way.

However, this proposition, although simple on paper, does require initiative and some coordination. Most of the women I know today are exhausted. We are working stressful jobs, managing our households and handling the details of our children’s lives. The constant running around is adding additional stress to our relationships with our significant others. We barely have enough time to think through the details of our own lives, let alone consider adding another level of stress to our days. However, childhood, which impacts our children’s lives down the road, is very much at stake here. That is why it is important to make an effort to create these occasions. And it is absolutely critical to make it a group effort.

About Initiative
The reason that FunPlayDates was started was so that we as mothers could insure our children’s play days. What we have found along the way is that many children have very few friends and that they spend their spare time sitting in front of a TV or a computer. This is an enormous waste. The initiative it takes to make a group playdate can be as simple as arranging a group picnic at the local playground or inviting some of the neighbors to do a group cookout. Ask everyone to bring their own lunch or something for the cookout and some outdoor toys or games. Even if the group has to take turns watching the kids, this type of effort will bring such simple joy to the kids.

This kind of get-together should always be simple. And if it is too much to try to call everyone or think up an invitation – make it easier on yourself by getting some great ideas from FunPlaydates. was designed to provide invitations, quick crafts from simple, household items, and great no-cook recipe tips to make the busy Mom look like she has time to cook! However you do it, the most important consideration here is that we make sure our children have a chance to experience the magic of play and the richness of a community.

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