Socially Distant Play Dates: 5 Tips for a House-Hopping Summer


Given the state of affairs, our usual summer activities such as going to the splash pad, high tailing it to the beach, and going camping are looking very different this year. While our state is on the verge of a full “reopening,” I’m not sure if I’m comfortable joining the public just yet. After all, my 18-month-old is in the phase where everything somehow ends up in her mouth, and my four-year-old is just now able to use the bathroom without full support. Throw in the general public and this is a recipe for unwanted germs…even without a pandemic raging on.

With that said, I have every intention of keeping things simple this summer while still enjoying the company of others. Rather than battle the public germs, I am proposing the good, old-fashioned at-home play date with a bit of summer flair. I have a few tricks and tips for a smooth and fun house-hopping summer.

1: Set Up Your Rotation

I don’t know about you, but it sometimes feels like we always hang out at the same person’s house. This year, get in the swing of getting out of the house and venturing out to see your friends and their kids. If you are staying home this summer and your friends are doing the same, set up your house-hopping rotation. Mondays we will be at my house, Thursdays we will be at yours, etc.

2: Know Your Limits

With your rotation in full swing, establish time frames that work for each family. There’s nothing worse than over-extending your welcome, so have that conversation up front. “You can come over from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then we have to excuse ourselves for naps and recharge.”

Being a self-proclaimed homebody (even before the stay home order turned me into a domesticated, civically responsible boss), I sometimes get anxious about having others over purely because of our schedule. My husband wakes up really early, gets home around five, and we shut the house down by seven. It’s what works for us during the work week. We bend a little on the weekends, but we don’t usually deter, even during the summer. When opening your home for a house-hopping event, be sure to establish what works for you.

3: BYO Everything

This year, it’s more important to be a good packer. Bringing your own everything is where it’s at. Make a list of things you need to bring and keep it in your phone or bag. Dust off those sad little lunch boxes that got tossed to the side in March and breathe new life into them! There is no need to be the hostess with the mostest this year; everyone is here for the human contact, not the snacks and food. Pack what your kids like to eat and bring it with you. This takes the pressure off the house-hopping host and allows everyone to feel comfortable about keeping the play dates as germ-free as possible.

4: Help Clean Up

After an amazing few hours of play, make sure you help clean up and accept the help at your house, too. Yes, I know there are those type-A, Enneagram 1 people out there. But seriously, let your house-hopping guests HELP YOU. There is no reason to leave out every toy, ride on, chair, etc. and clean up all by yourself after your guests split.

I have this rule I teach my students and my kids: leave the place better looking than when you got there. This is not an insult to the place upon arrival, it is a measure of being a helper instead of a slob. Working together on these house-hopping visits will make you want to keep having them all summer!

5: Have an Absolute Blast While Staying Home

Last but not least, take the time to enjoy each visit with friends and family as you are house hopping. We have all been through a wild winter and spring due to COVID-19. We are ready to be social again, while still being mindful and respectful of the safety and needs of our own families and others. This summer will be one that is more simple than before, but it will be one filled with amazing memories of enjoying summer the old fashioned way.

House hopping is all about opening up your back yard, your playscape, your safe space so that you and your friends can relax together while the kids are having fun. So, schedule your rotation, pack a bag, hop in the car, and go out there and enjoy your summer!

Enlist some friends and plan out your house-hopping summer! Plus, it’s all outdoors, so you can add these fun hours to your 1000 Hours Outside tally!


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