Real Advice For Real Life

Parenting Expert Advice from Author and America’s Nanny,

Michelle LaRowe

Planning Perfect Play Dates

kids playingThe ever present snowscape of winter looks beautiful outside your front window. The clean look of white snow lines the trees and the cool breeze sends snow drifts that coat your window like a translucent glaze. Oh the beauty, you pause to think and as you turn the corner to make that warm cup of cocoa reality slams you head on.

Your precious children greet you in stereo with a united cry of We’re bored. You pause and realize cocoa for two may not be a bad idea and decide to go ahead and give the neighbor a call to see if she wants to come over with her daughter.

Sure enough the complaints from the neighboring camp are the same and in no time, you’ll be conquering the boredom monster together.

You peek out the window again and panic. The beauty seemed to disappear as you come to grips with what you’ve done. In ten minutes, you’ll be expected to entertain yet another child stricken with boredom.

So you quickly shift to super mom mode and decide your gonna make this work. You remember reading about play dates in your latest parenting resource, Nanny to the Rescue! You flip through and decide to put the author’s play date tips into action.

1. Prepare in advance. Set the time and environment up for a win-win situation. Work around nap times, limit play dates to two hours and childproof the area you’ll be using.

You sigh and think “Well if we just skip the plan in advance part we’ll be fine” and move onto choosing an area to play in. You decide on the living room and make like a human vacuum dashing through the area ensuring anything you don’t want knocked over is out of sight. Great you think. Next.

2. Make sharing easier. Take away any special toys your child doesn’t like to share.

You approach Henry and in a calm voice say “You know Kerri is coming over so let’s put Tiny Bear away so he doesn’t get lost while we are playing with friends.” Surprisingly he hands him over and you tuck teddy into Henry’s crib. Check. Moving on…

3. Set up stations. Blocks, coloring, arts and crafts and games like Hullabaloo or Simon Says keeps everyone moving in the same direction.

“That’s a great idea” you say aloud and get the Legos out from the closet, placing them in one corner of the room. You get out Memory and place it in another. Then you pull some of the kids favorite books off the shelf and lay them along the coffee table. Perfect.

4. Serve a snack. Even crackers and milk will provide a quiet time if things get tense.

Looks like I can have that cocoa! You seem pleased with this idea you had on your own. Then you laugh and realize the author meant a snack for the kids. You look in the pantry, pull out the animal crackers and get some juice boxes out of the fridge. I’m doing great and three minutes to spare, you think to yourself. Ding dong.

The neighbors arrive and take off their winter gear, ready to rush into the land of fun. You think about going over your house rules and aren’t sure if it’s appropriate. You glance at your favorite book one more time.

5. Lay out the ground rules. We play in this room, we keep our hands to ourselves and we use our indoor voices. Setting up your expectations ahead of time gives kids something to live up to.

Proudly you ask the kids to gather around. “I am excited you are all going to play, now let’s remember to stay in the living room, use our indoor voices and keep our hands to ourselves.”

The kids seem thrilled with their options but you see two of them squabbling over a book. The last thing you read quickens to your mind:

6. Look but don’t touch. Let the children play and learn on their own. Unless it gets physical or emotionally harmful, allowing kids to learn to work it out on their own is the best way to go.

You sit back anxiously and sure enough, the kids worked it out. One held the book, one flipped pages.

The kids are playing in peace and you are your neighbor are chatting up a storm of your own. Then you remember. Hot Cocoa for two.

Effectively Managing Sibling Peer Pressure


Michelle La Rowe

Michelle La Rowe

About America's Nanny:

Michelle is an active member of the nanny community. She is the founder and president of Boston Area Nannies, Inc., a local non-profit educational organization and has served on the International Nanny Association Board of Directors.

She is called on by the media as a nanny and parenting expert and has been affectionately dubbed America's Nanny. Michelle has appeared on television and has been featured in print.

Podcast of Interview with
America's Nanny

Books by Michelle LaRowe

A Mom's Ultimate Book of Lists: 100+ Lists to Save You Time, Money and Sanity - Grocery lists. Checklists. To-do lists. Lots of people love--and live by--lists. And parents are no exception. Today's families are busier than ever, and moms don't have the time or energy to search and scramble for the parenting information they are desperately seeking. This handy, practical reference guide will save time, money, and sanity for today's busy women.

Working Mom's 411 is your one-stop resource guide for navigating through the often choppy waters of managing kids, career and home.

Nanny to the Rescue - America's nanny offers a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced babies and toddlers.

Nanny To the Rescue Again - Faced with multiple choices regarding school, friends, and activities coupled with the ever-widening influence of the outside world, parents of 6-12-year-olds need help. America's nanny is back to offer a large dose of healthy parenting advice with secrets for raising happy, secure, and well-balanced children.
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Michelle La Rowe La RoweAmerican NannyReal Advice For Real LifeParenting Expert Advice from Author and America's Nanny, Michelle LaRowePlanning Perfect Play Dates The ever present snowscape of winter looks beautiful outside your front window. The clean look of white snow lines the trees and the cool breeze sends snow drifts that coat your window like a...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids