During the summer, our yard and those of our neighbors were filled to the brim with kids on a regular basis. If my children wanted to invite a friend or a group of friends over, I was perfectly fine with that. They could run around to their hearts’ content outside, and I could supply them with popsicles and lemonade, and they’d be happy. They could play baseball or go fishing at the local pond or play hide and seek. Meanwhile, I could sit in the relatively quiet house and simply glance out the window occasionally.
Now that it’s getting cooler, though, and the kids don’t want to play outside quite so much, it’s getting to be more of a hassle to let them have friends over. I can tolerate a couple of friends for a couple of hours, but it gets on my nerves to have a big group of kids running through the house and making a lot of noise. Still, it doesn’t seem fair to tell kids that they can’t have company. Here are some ideas on being hospitable to the kids’ friends during the part of the year when everyone tends to stay indoors:
- Give them their own space. If you have a garage or a basement, see if there’s a way to clear out a portion to give the kids their own space to goof off. An area rug, a couple of couches, a television and some game consoles can make even an unfinished basement more appealing than a living room with a grimacing mom. Get your kids involved in making it a friendly place: Let them put a coat of paint on the walls and choose new lighting fixtures, and have them help you move piles of extra stuff to the edges of the room.
- Invest in some quiet things to do. Stocking up on puzzles, craft supplies and board games might inspire some quiet activity. This isn’t really a guarantee, of course, and chances are that the kids might be occupied for a half hour and then succumb to shrieks and bouncing around, but it might get you at least some peace and quiet.
- Make agreements with other parents. While summertime playdates might tend to be open-ended due to their casual nature, this might become tedious in the winter months. Make sure that there are clear drop-off and pick-up times. Also, don’t let your house become the one where everyone congregates all the time… make sure that other parents pick up some of the hosting slack!
- Set up some rules. Just because they’re antsy, doesn’t mean that you should let them run wild or damage any of your belongings. Don’t be afraid to tell them if something isn’t allowed.
- If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Have a dance contest with them, help them build an obstacle course, or put on a movie that you don’t mind seeing and turn up the volume way too loud. If you’re having fun, the time that they’re there may fly by.
The change in weather doesn’t have to mean that you have to be cooped up with a bunch of rowdy kids, nor that your kids can’t have friends over. With a bit of compromise and forethought, you can let your kids extend hospitality to other children and stay sane at the same time!