I recently had my first “real” playdate with my son. He is 8 months old and some may say I waited way, WAY too long. Now two weeks in, with our first few playdates accomplished, I know for sure that they’re right.
Babies need socialization. It is important for their development to explore the world around them, and it is important to your sanity as a mom, too. I had every intention of scheduling playdates early on and stimulating my son’s social development. However, life got in the way: he needed surgery for two hiatal hernias; he was a preemie, so we stayed at home for the first few months; and he has had persistent reflux.
Finally, I knew it was time for us to get out there, but I had no idea where to start. I have friends with children but none of them live in San Francisco, so I took to the internet in search of other nearby mommies. I started by posting on my neighborhood’s Nextdoor.com message board, seeing if any other local moms were interested in walks, coffee, park playdates, anything to get us out and about. I received a few replies and began texting with another neighborhood mom who told me about Parenthoods. I had no idea what Parenthoods was and immediately Googled to learn it was an app much like Facebook but for parents. It made sense, of course, that in this day and age there is an app just for parents to post status updates, create activities for others to join, even buy and sell baby gear. I downloaded the app and joined the night before our park playdate. Thanks to this app I have successfully made it out of the hibernation funk!
Now that my son and I are increasingly mobile, I’m starting to focus more on creating playdates that will really engage him, even at this young age. Infants learn about the world through their senses, so I’ve been trying to take this into account when planning my mother-son outings.
When you’re getting ready to explore with your little one (and hopefully a bit sooner than I did!), think about whether there will be opportunities for your child to:
SEE new things. Even just a stroller walk involves so much to look at around the city. Golden Gate Park has some amazing, visually stimulating sights for baby and mommy.
TASTE. It’s inevitable your child will eat something or at least chew on another baby’s toy during a playdate, and you can try something new to eat as well. Explore a new restaurant or coffee shop.
TOUCH varying textures–think grass, sand, animals, even water. Head to Ocean Beach for some much needed mommy relaxation.
LISTEN to new sounds. Why not replace the frequent sound of car honking in San Francisco with some animal noises at the SF Zoo?
SMELL. If you are up for a little drive south, head to Filoli Gardens off 280 and Edgewood Road. I promise you will find the floral fragrance amazing and so will your little one.
You do not have to be fancy with your playdates; even just a trip to the park with other mommies will help recharge your battery and remind you that you are not alone in the mommy struggle.