As a nanny, playdates will most likely be part of your role. After all, they are important opportunities for children to develop social and emotional skills. When children interact with each other, they learn how to share, self-regulate, take turns, and empathise with their peers.
Playdates can also be a great platform to introduce children to other activities and hobbies in a controlled environment. With younger children and especially with toddlers, it’s great to have some fun activities planned for when friends come round. Don’t forget that many kids can be shy in social situations, so giving them a focus or something to do with a friend can help make them feel more at ease and enjoy themselves.
When planning playdate activities, you have plenty of options to choose from. While there are always the go-tos like arts, crafts, games and jigsaws, why not be more adventurous and break out the mixing bowl? We know that many might panic at the thought of handing a child something as messy as eggs and flour, but cooking is a great way to help kids interact and get to know one another in a relaxed and less pressured manner. Not to mention that cooking together teaches children to an essential life-skill and helps to educate them around healthy eating and fresh ingredients. In fact, studies have shown that children who help out in the kitchen are more likely to enjoy eating fruit and vegetables (so it’s a win-win right?!). You’ll also some *tasty* treats at the end of it!
So to help you out on your culinary adventure, we asked former nanny and nutritionist Kate Stronach for some ideas for kitchen-friendly playdates. Enjoy!
“Something I have done more times than I can count is to host a pizza party playdate, I’ll roll out a big bit of dough (very easy to prepare), and let them get creative with the toppings they’d love. This is great for so many reasons, they work together, they practice their fine motor skills, and they are often inclined to be more adventurous with their pizza toppings.
Where often kids will like to go for a very minimal margarita pizza, when they get the chance to be a part of the preparation process, they want to add as many toppings as they can.
It’s a very easy option to prepare too. You can make the dough in about 3 minutes and then set it aside for a few hours to rise.
Chop up all the topping options and place them in bowls. I then roll out a big rectangle dough base to fit the oven tray and pour on some tomato sauce/passata. The kids can then use the back of spoons to spread it around, sprinkle over handfuls of mozzarella and go wild choosing toppings from the bowls. Bake this in the oven for about 12 minutes, allow to cool and it’s ready to be eaten.
Perfect for even the most impatient of kids
Another great option is a smoothie, one they can all make together for pudding – or as an afternoon snack.
Get your blender cup and they can add in everything themselves. Pour in the milk, choose the fruit they want to add, and chuck in some oats or some chia seeds. They love adding bits and taking it in turns (great practise for this) that it’s very easy to convince them at this point to try adding a little avocado or even some chopped spinach. Blend it all together and pour between cups or bottles, and they can tuck straight in.
A cupcake station has proven successful on many occasions, where you pre-make a batch of them and allow them to cool. The kids can then ice them together and add berries or sprinkles. You could also cut up some vegetables and use them with hummus to create figures or ‘veggies monsters’ on plates as a snack lunch”
Our main takeaway (if you pardon the pun!) is that with the right recipes and ingredients on hand, cooking can be both a low stress and fun time for everyone involved. It’s not only fun and educational, but it’s also novel for children, and hopefully not total chaos for you too.
So go on – roll up your sleeves and have a blast while making some delicious food.