| 9.2°C Dublin

Saving my sanity and cash with Play dates

IN a way, it's easier when you have more than one child. Two or more children can keep each other company while you get on with pressing matters, such as cleaning your house. Yes, exciting!

But, of course, many children don't have any siblings and when you have just the one tot, organising play dates is an absolute must.

I try to play for an hour a day with my son, Gary. More than that I just cannot do. After an hour playing with Peppa Pig, or racing toy cars against each other on the kitchen floor, my brain starts to go a little fuzzy.



Rain

I really do feel for young families living in high-rise apartment blocks. Many of these buildings are terribly unfamily friendly and don't have communal play areas.

Of course, we have fantastic city parks, and being an island we're never too far from the beach, but with all our rain recently, more often than not, the park and the beach simply haven't been optional forms of entertainment.

It's difficult to keep a toddler stimulated all day. Plonking him or her down in front of the TV for hours on end is a bit of a cop out, although I have to say it can sometimes be a life saver, too. But how did our grandmothers cope without TV and an endless supply of DVDs?

Well, back then, most kids played out on the street. There wasn't much traffic and people left their front doors open.

Back then, people looked out for one another. Now we barely know who our own neighbours are.

It's not easy when you're trying to look after a toddler by yourself. Treats such as the zoo or lunch in McDonald's can really hit the purse, if you're doing stuff like that on a daily basis.

If you move into an area where you don't know anybody, it's best to try to make friends with other families as soon as you can. Kids make friends very easily and they can entertain each other with little effort.

It is so important for them to play with little people their own age, especially during the summer when they're not in play school.



Peace

I live on a road where people mostly keep to themselves. It is a mature community with hardly any young families. Of course, this is an ideal place for somebody like me who enjoys working in peace and quiet. But it's not so much fun for my young son. So you can imagine my joy when a young family with a little girl moved next door a few weeks ago.

Gary was looking out the bedroom window and spotted the child, who's about a year older than himself, and started waving frantically at her. She shouted at him to come down and play and they've been best friends ever since.

The girl's English isn't the best, but that doesn't seem to come in the way of their friendship. They communicate in their own little way. I am so lucky that the girl moved in next door and I'm sure her parents are delighted to have met Gary, too. Both children have a constant companion now.

Oh, and it's saving me a fortune in entertainment money!