I genuinely think this has saved my sanity as a parent, finding another family that you like and have fun with is really valuable. I feel truly blessed to have found more than one! We can be comfortable in each others homes and gardens, and have similar views on childcare, sharing and all the things that are likely to arise during kids’ playing. With some we tend to meet in neutral parks and places, with some we take turns with play dates at our homes. Both mean a free day of entertainment for the kids and a lovely bit of adult conversation and a cuppa with a friend.
When people come to ours I let the kids pick some toys they DON’T want to be played with and I put them in the loft, or in a room that is ‘out of bounds’. I also have a few activities I’ve pre-planned in case of emergenices… but mostly they just go a bit wild with the friends they only really see in school holidays x
You do have to accept a certain amount of clearing up afterwards and if that feels too much then go for the park option.