Here is our list of top 10 outdoor social distanced playdates for kids! It’s been three months – the kids are going stir-crazy trapped indoors away from their friends. And let’s be honest, they aren’t the only ones. They need to socialize, but as parents, we want to keep them safe. How can we balance two seemingly opposing goals? With a little creativity, we can help our kids have some much-needed friend time while following the directions of Dr. Bonnie Henry and the rest of the public health team.

Now, to be clear, there is no way to eliminate risk entirely. Everyone has different comfort levels and we need to be understanding of those whose risk tolerances differ from our own. Kids are inherently unpredictable, and they aren’t always going to follow our directions even when they have good intentions. However, there are three public health directives that we can follow to help minimize risk when socializing, young or old: frequent hand washing (before and after each playdate), social distancing and meeting in outdoor spaces. I would also recommend keeping it to a single friend, or perhaps two or three at most – the more kids, the more unpredictability and the more potential risk. I’m not trying to influence your decision either way, but if you are ready to host social distanced playdates here are some ideas to get your kids outside with friends in a lower-risk way!

Driveway Campfire

driveway campfires for social distanced playdates

My daughter was invited to a friend’s place for a driveway propane campfire the other night. I dropped her off with her own chair, roasting stick, hand sanitizer, drink, and all the fixings for smores. I felt very comfortable knowing that the friend’s parents were there supervising everything and ensuring that the girls kept their distance. When I picked her up, she was beaming after a couple hours of friend time and chocolate. What a great idea!

Park/Ravine Explorations

Park adventures fo Social Distanced Playdates

Kids love to explore. Why not let them explore a local ravine, park, or wild area within walking or biking distance of your home? My kids have been on several of these expeditions with friends (supervised) and always come back smiling and very, very muddy. I don’t want to mention particular spots, as I don’t want to crowd them, but the lower mainland is full of wonderful wild spaces. And remember, they don’t have to be huge for kids to enjoy them. Fort building (keeping six feet apart of course!), pirate attacks, castle storming, and finding their own secret place in the woods are just some of the things they can get up to together.

Backyard (or Front-yard/driveway) Movie

movie night for Social Distanced Playdates

If you have a screen/white sheet and a projector, a television and dvd/blue-ray player, or a couple of devices with streaming services, you are set to host your own outdoor movie night. Your wifi will likely work well enough to run a streaming service in the front driveway or back yard, so long as it is not too far from the router. Ask friends to bring their own popcorn, snacks, drinks, chair and sleeping bag for a night of fun. Try to avoid bathroom breaks by asking friend’s parents to ensure their kids have gone before coming over. However, sometimes kids just have to go, so ensure that distance is maintained and hand washing supplies are available for before and after.

Sidewalk Chalk

Social Distanced Playdates

This classic outdoor children’s pastime has enjoyed a resurgence during the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s creative, fun and can even play a role in boosting neighbourhood moral. Encourage your kids to take their drawings to the next level by adding encouraging phrases and messages of hope. Another option is to create a sidewalk chalk ‘obstacle course’ or ‘exercise course’ around the block, asking people to do various dance moves or exercise moves at each station. Hopscotch courses are fun to make and even more fun after. Or keep it simple by just letting them do their own thing. Art is a great way for kids to express themselves.

Biking/Scootering

Biking is another classic outdoor kid’s activity, and comes with the bonus that it naturally encourages children to keep their distance from each other. Scooters are also good. If your neighbourhood is super busy, try to choose areas with lots of space (school grounds, larger parks) or go at times that are less busy (lunch time, dinner time). Typically, though, it is easy enough to maintain social distancing on a bike/scooter ride. Be sure your kids and their friends know the rules of the road for biking, and wear their helmets. Also ask friends to bring their own water bottles.

Water Fight

Kids having a water fight

Who doesn’t love a good water fight, especially on a hot day? To minimize risk, ensure everyone brings their own water guns. For additional safety, try to have separate water supplies for each child (fill up a kiddie pool as a water source, or use separate, sanitized taps for each child). Though the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that water transmission of COVID-19 is a low risk, these simple precautions can add another layer of safety and comfort.

Laser Tag

Jami Savage and family playing laser tag

For Christmas, our kids and their cousins all got laser tag guns from their grandmother. To be honest, they didn’t get a lot of use. But ever since COVID-19 broke out, laser gun battles have become a regular occurrence in our house (I was recently dethroned as champion by my son). Then we decided to meet with the cousins at a local park and give an outdoor laser gun battle a try. Two hours later, I was exhausted. Kids versus adults, kids versus kids – it didn’t matter. It was just pure fun. We also tried it out with my son’s friend who happened to have the same type of laser blasters. Again, we met at a local park with some forest cover and the kids had a blast (literally), while the parents chilled in the shade. I am no expert on laser guns, and I’m sure there are many different one available, but our kids have the Laser X guns. They can be set to play battles with three different team colours, or can be used to play a ‘storm the base’ type game. They run about $60 for two blasters. All in all, they are fantastic fun.

Sprinkler Party

Kids jumping over a sprinkler

Sprinklers are always a hit with kids and are a completely no-touch activity. Throw on some music if you can (a cell-phone will work) and, again, ask any friends to bring their own snacks and drinks. If you have a trampoline, take it to the next level by putting a sprinkler under it – the water will spray up through the mesh. Of course, this can always be combined with a water fight!

Bring Your Own Picnic / Tea Party

Meet in a backyard, local school yard or park for a BYO picnic or tea party. It doesn’t have to be fancy – unless you opt for the tea party, then a little fancy goes a long way. Get the kids to help get everything ready:

Picnic: blanket, drinks (cups if required), finger foods (veggies, fruit, cheese, treats, etc.), napkins, hand sanitizer

Tea Party: blanket, tea cup, thermos of tea, appropriate finger foods (biscuits with jam, veggies, sandwich quarters, etc.), napkins, hand sanitizer, dolls (optional, of course!).

When the food is done, the kids can explore a bit (at a safe distance) before heading home.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Child taking photos on a camera

A digital camera or phone and a list of items to find is all that is needed for this activity. Kids go out, each with their own camera or phone in search of items on the list. If using a phone, you can text a digital copy of the list and avoid using paper. If not, just post the list up in a central spot where everyone can see it. You can set a time limit, or just say first one back with photos of every item or the most items wins. It can also be modified for different ages. If your kids are young, keep the items on your list simple and close-by (even in your yard or within sight). For older kids, you may feel comfortable letting them range a bit further in the neighbourhood or park. List ideas: pinecone, cedar tree, bird, pet, flower, basketball hoop, bike, fire hydrant, worm, heart-shaped rock, moss, sidewalk chalk drawing, picnic table, stop sign, playground.

Driveable Playdate Ideas

kayaking for Social Distanced Playdates

For those willing to meet up with another family and drive for social distanced playdates, more options are available. Getting out on the water is a good way to social distance. Local watercraft rental businesses are operating, including Deep Cove Kayak (kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals). Numerous farm tours are also available – watch for our upcoming article! My family has enjoyed a couple of movies at the Twilight Drive-In Theatre in Langley. We arrange to meet another family there and park next to them (the stalls are about 10 feet apart), and the kids and their friends can kick a ball around (no picking it up!) while the grown-ups chat until the movie starts. Currently, you must book ahead online. Enjoy!

Balancing your child’s need to play with other kids with the need to keep them and your family safe is tricky. In many respects, it comes down to managing risk and to your family’s level of risk tolerance. For some families, they already have enough risk from other sources such as work, and may not be comfortable adding more. Whatever choice you make, let’s all be respectful of the choices of others. After all, we all have the same goal: to get our families through this safely, and to stay sane doing it.

Looking for more ideas for Social Distanced Playdates? Check out the blogs below!

Our Stance on COVID 19 and Summer 2020

Top 5 Outdoor Educational Adventure Locations in the GVRD

So Much Time Photo Challenge

Hiking with Kids: A Guide for Families

Is this a sponsored post?: No, we just wanted to share our ideas for social distanced playdates with our followers!