Play dates for kids are great. They get some much needed social interaction. So important for their development. But of course, the downside is that you, Dad, gets some social interaction as well.
If I wanted to make friends I’d go to the bar! this is why you need dad friendly play dates.
Remember that play dates aren’t about you making friends. You’re at the mercy of the friends your kid makes. Sometimes you get lucky and make fast friends with your kid’s friend’s parents. Other times you don’t.
Since it’s really hit or miss having some good activities planned is super important. It really sucks when you’re sitting on a couch with another parent that you don’t care about.
Here are some Dad friendly play dates that won’t suck. Smartest Dad Guarantee.*
Outdoor Dad Friendly Play Dates
If you can get outside, you should. It’s good for the kiddos, and it minimizes awkward conversation with a parent you’re not hugely fond of. You can put some physical distance between you and them. Take a look at some of these venues if you’re lucky enough to be able to get outside.
The Skate Park
As the kiddos get older getting them out to the skate park can be a lot of fun. First of all, the kids get a little exercise. Skateboarding is pretty athletic. As a dad you get to watch your kids succeed (or fail, I don’t know what makes you happy).
That’s pretty cool. What makes it a really good choice is that you stay entertained.
Even if your kiddo isn’t very good, someone at the skate park is going to be awesome. It gives you something to talk about with your parental counterpart as well.
Not into skating? Zoos can be a much more laid back experience for the kids too. Kids and animals go together like bread and butter. Maybe that’s why every kid’s book focuses on them.
So the zoo is going to be a winner with the kids. Dad’s get a chance to focus on the animals as well. What’s better than looking at tigers and elephants?
Looking for something to talk to your counterpart about? Favorite animals, ethics, and the best craft beers in the park are all good options.
Mini Golf & Bowling
So it turns out that having structure is super important for kids. Who knew? Getting the kids together at the mini-golf course can provide that structure while they have fun at the same time.
An 18 hole mini-golf game takes a group of kids much longer than you think it’s going to.
As a dad, you get the chance to keep score, chase down lost balls, and maybe even play occasionally. If you’re the dad of a baby you also get to work on your swing while wearing the baby front pack.
Some of the best holes I’ve played have involved wearing the kid! Plus you get to nod at the other dad’s doing the same thing.
Another great activity that can be exhausting for kids is hiking. Some of the greatest times I had as a kid was in the scouts. We’d go out to some remote area with all our gear on our backs and have a great time playing in the woods.
I’m not in that great a shape anymore but I still love taking my kids out on a local trail with some peers.
My favorite part is that huffing and puffing up a trail always gives you an excuse not to hold some great conversation. Hard to talk when you’re going to puke!
Once you hike out to a place it’s a nice opportunity for the kids to have some outdoor time, and for the dad’s to hang out together in the shade. Nothing tastes quite like cold water after a good solid hike.
Beach trips can be another great way for families to hang out together and let the kids play. The beach is full of opportunities for kids to play with one another in unstructured ways.
Frisbees, sand castles, boogie boarding, and tag are all great beach games. Beaches are also pretty flat, so it’s easy to keep an eye on your kiddos from a well-placed beach chair and umbrella.
Any activity that drains the kids faster than the adults is fine by me.
Tree House Construction
I’ve been working on a tree house for my son. One of the best “play dates” I’ve had is having some other dads over to help me put some lumber up in the trees.
While we were working in the back yard the kiddos were playing away. I think it was tag. I don’t know. I was working with the saw at the time. At the end of the day we weren’t done with the tree house, but we’d made some real progress.
I made sure to supply lemonade for the kids and beers for the dads. Even if you’re not building a tree house, some small construction project can be really fun.
You get help, and the kids get to see adults working together.
Starting a garden is super important for kids. Letting them see where their food comes from is a valuable lesson in the modern world.
My oldest loved to eat tomatoes right off the plant. You can’t beat that. But you know that starting a garden is hard. All the digging, planting, and watering? Well, grab some extra little hands!
Parents can help too if they like. Getting some easy plants into the ground and watered isn’t that tough in the long run. Plus, the next time that group comes over, they can see the literal fruits of their labors!
Just like with any other project at your house, make sure you’re providing snacks and refreshments. All dad friendly play dates should, by law, require “refreshments.”
Some Indoor Dad Friendly Play Dates
Smartest Dads will try to get their kids outside. But hey, sometimes it rains. Or so I’ve been told anyway. Having some good backup indoor plans can be a real lifesaver. Try to take the outdoors inside!
Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your plans to go hiking, that doesn’t mean that you can’t camp. Kids love an indoor tent.
Dad’s love a chance to mess up a room. Basically, we’re all just failed rock stars.
Grab some chairs, pillows, and sheets, and make yourself a tent Cabellas would be proud of.
Dine In Movie
Projectors are coming down in price all the time. Kids love movies. These two things are really going to work in your favor.
All it takes to have a drive-in in the living room are some pillows on the floor, a blank wall, and a projector. Kids aren’t even that picky.
A sheet hung on the wall makes a great drive-in screen if you’ve chosen some good colors for the walls. Even without the projector, a movie on the TV and the floor will make a great combination.
We are big fans of science at Smartest Dad and luckily a good experiment is one of the best dad friendly play dates there is. If you don’t get it right on the first try, well, try, try again. That’s science!
I keep a big book of kids science experiments in the house. This is just one of those compilations of things you can do to show kids how the world works using nothing more than what’s probably in your pantry or garage.
My gotos are always going to experiment with balloons and anything with non-Newtonian fluids. The last one is awesome because it lets me use up the cornstarch I don’t know what else to do with.
Bonus points if you choose an experiment for your next camping trip.
Marshmallows… better involve marshmallows.