My daughter loves a playdate. Our journeys to school in the mornings (pre-school closures, of course) used to be filled with her begging for a friend to come over that afternoon – Scarlett, Emilia, Margot, or all three at once.
I’d try and host one a week, and even though it meant extra noise, extra food and extra high-pitched screaming; in a way, it got me off the hook. At eight, they’re now able to disappear into a bedroom and play unsupervised, meaning I only have one small child left to entertain.
Playdates were a source of weekly joy to my little girl, time to shake off the routine of school and learning. When we discovered schools would be closing and a lockdown was impending, the very first thing she asked was whether she could still see her friends. When I said, sadly, that she couldn’t, she began to cry.
But, as we’ve since learned – all is not lost. We’re just in the world of the virtual playdate, now. Here’s how to make it work.
#1 Keep an eye on them.
You might be tempted to leave them to it, but sending your child off with a device without supervision might not be the best idea – especially if they’re a toddler who’ll likely want to just put the phone in their mouth (or chuck it on the floor). Make sure you’re nearby, keeping an eye – and ear – on what’s going on. It doesn’t mean breathing down their neck, just be an active parent, and remember those passwords and privacy settings.
This is all age-dependant, of course. The older they are, the more likely they will be independent. I let my daughter FaceTime from the room next door, and pop my head around the door, occasionally. When we asked the HuffPost UK Parents community, one mom told us her daughter and school friend played ‘Roblox’ together online – which gave her some peace! “They chatted for over an hour,” she said. “It was so lovely to hear her giggling upstairs and I got an hour to myself, too!”
#2 Find the right app.
There are so...