Plan A Healthy Playdate
On the surface, a playdate sounds like a great opportunity for moms to sit back and gab about picky eaters and bedtime strategies. But in the chaos of life with two under two — or in my case, four under nine — a playdate without a plan is a recipe for tantrums and more chasing than chatting. A plan can make your next playdate, with baby in tow, fun and healthy for all.
First, choose a healthy environment. If the weather is nice, opt for the park or a backyard. When it’s cold or rainy, consider a bounce play place or even a living room. The best time for a playdate is when kids are well-rested and fed. Many toddlers drop their morning nap naturally by 18 months, so mid-morning is often ideal playdate time. Stick with hour-long playdates for babies; toddlers may be able to handle up to two hours.
Having snacks on hand is make or break for a successful outing with the littles. Make up snacks before the playdate. Let your kids help. (What kid doesn’t love to mix, mix, mix?) It’s never too early to teach them the importance of healthy eating.
For me, healthy muffins are a total win. My kids love carrot muffins but my recipe can be adapted, just as I adapted Lori’s recipe. My version of these muffins is vegan, has no gluten or refined sugar. The recipe versatility means you can tailor it to your family’s diet. Choose from all kinds of fruits and veggies to accommodate picky eaters or restrictions.
Use your favorite organic, non-GMO Beech-Nut jarred baby food as a nutritious base. (Hint: Don’t toss the jar when you’re done. You can use it later.) While the toddlers are munching on muffins, baby can get in on the flavors as well. My youngest loves the delicious carrot puree in his Boon Feeder. Feeding all my kids with the same core ingredients: priceless.
½ c coconut oil, softened
½ c coconut sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1 jar Beech-Nut Just Carrots
2 carrots, grated
2 flax eggs, beaten
1 c all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 t xanthan gum
½ c gluten-free oat bran
1 t baking soda
1 t pumpkin pie spice
½ t salt
Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare muffin tins with grease or paper liners. In a bowl, cream together coconut oil and coconut sugar. Then, add additional wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Combine both bowls, but don’t overmix. Spoon the batter into tins and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Busy kids are happy kids. If you’re bound for the park or backyard, get out the wiffle ball set. Bubbles are always a hit, and sidewalk chalk is an endless entertainer.
When it’s frigid out and you’re stuck indoors, build a fort using sheets and blankets draped over the dining room table. Or plan an age-appropriate craft. Since toddlers love glue, try my go-to: a pencil or toothbrush holder. Remember that baby food jar you kept?
- Yarn in a few different colors
- A sponge brush
- A jar
- Make a pattern with different colors of yarn, or just mix and match. Measure out enough yarn to wrap the entire jar. Set aside.
- Use the sponge brush to paint a generous amount of glue onto the jar. Cover the glass completely.
- Wrap the pre-measured yarn around the jar and press gently so it sticks.
- Let it dry, and you have a holder perfect for pens in the kitchen or toothbrushes in the bathroom.
- Clean up those sticky (but happy) fingers.
Playdates are a double win — kids get social time and moms get much-needed “therapy.” Hearing stories from other moms struggling with the same issues helps everyone feel less alone. Throw around ideas for date night, share home organization tips and talk about effective discipline methods. Be open and honest. A strong sense of community is essential to keeping mom healthy!
With two under two, chaos is inevitable. But with a plan, snacks, activities and other empathetic moms, you can create a healthy playdate. Make adventure and health your main goals, though tired kiddos at the end of the day is certainly a perk.