Gone are the days when your child would be occupied with a single box of toys! As the children get older, it becomes increasingly difficult to make their free time productively. Hence, a playdate is a suitable option which allows you some ‘me’ time as well. Older kids have an increasing need to form social connections with their peers, and play dates outside of school are important for building those friendships.

Here are 5 ideas and activities to keep your child occupied:

1. Outdoor games: Children love being outdoors, especially when they have their friends over. Therefore, setting up an obstacle course is a win-win situation for your child and you. The children could use their bicycles or scooters to race each other. Some children (like mine) have extra energy and in order to burn it out, they require vigorous exercise! Thus, they could indulge in rock climbing or even miniature golf.

2. Cooking:  Children love pizzas and cookies so get your child to have fun in non-fire cooking activities. Let them decorate cookies or put the capsicum, sauce, etc. On the premade pizza dough. It’s a fun way for the kids to learn the ropes to cook and try their hands at becoming future chefs.

3. Art: Children find art relaxing and fun. If you have girls then they could use beads and create a necklace or a bracelet. If you have boys then they could paint on a blank canvas and make a story of their artwork.

4. Board games: This remains a favorite with most parents. This is because it involves the least prepping! The older children are able to understand and play themselves. Hence, board games like monopoly which allow them to interact and challenge their intellect is a fantastic activity.

5. Experimentation: Children are very curious and to feed their curiosity you could engage them in science experiments. Your child can experiment with homemade bouncy balls. Being messy goes with science, so let them try their hands at creating coloured slime.

With various activities laid out for your child, it’s important for you to have certain guidelines on playdates. Here are the 3 most vital ones you must follow:

1. Set rules: Older children need to be reminded that they can’t be alone without supervision. They also tend to be more adventurous, especially when they’re with peers. Hence, you will have to limit their play area as there might be areas of your home which are not safe play structures for them.

2. Short and small: Longer hours with peers will be difficult for you and your child. Playdates reach their shelf life in about an hour, post which you’ll notice the children behaving what could be termed as rambunctious. Also, keep the number of children at home to a maximum of two friends. You don’t want to be pulling out your hair because the more isn’t always merrier.