Six Tips To Be the Most Popular Family On The Block
My husband and I always knew we wanted our house to be "the house". You know, the one where all the kids congregate after school. The one where the front door is always open and the kids feel comfortable inviting their friends over to hang out.
And, except a brief period when the boys were obsessed with war games that we don't allow, we are that house. We welcome sleepovers and kids staying for dinner; our yard and basement are usually filled with many ages of kids.
We run out of cookies quickly, but the bonus is that I get to see my kids' friends -- who they are, how they interact and which ones I want around, and which ones I don't. In fact, having my kids' friends around has let me see that sometimes the ones I like at first are the most troublesome (aka Eddie Haskall-like). Conversely, sometimes the kids who I don't like at first grow on me and I can see that I missed something at first (aka Fonzies).
Here are my tips for being the most popular house on the block:
Snacks: I admit it. Just as my mother did, I lure kids in with home-baked cookies and snacks. The cookie jar is on the counter and we provide relatively free-access to it.
Flexibility: I don't insist kids leave by a certain hour. I stretch meals to accomodate more. I don't really care when parents pick up.
Freedom: I encourage free play without too much parental involvement. (That sounds better than saying I ignore them.)
Communication: I talk to my kids friends. I try not to be intrusive, but I feign interest in their lives to get more dirt, I mean to learn more about them. My son even said that his friends like me. I believe the quote was: "They don't think you are cool, but they think you are nice."
Allow Video Games: For better or worse, gaming is a big part of boys' lives. If you don't allow them to play at your house they will go to someone else's house to play. That said, we only allow computer use in the open area where I can monitor.
Get a Trampoline: Here's the kicker, kids aren't going to come to your house if you don't have things to offer them. We recently got a trampoline and it has been a huge magnet for fun. Not just for the kids, but also for our family. We got a Springfree trampoline (I was given it for a review), which true to its name is spring-free and has a giant net around it.
We have a large oval and it fits well in our smallish urban backyard. Sometimes for fun, I put the sprinkler underneath it. The kids love it and they get a shower too. Even the too-cool-for-school tweens will go for a jump. (After bearing three children, my jumping to needing to pee ratio is very, very small so you don't find me on it too often. But my husband is the neighbourhood's best jumper.)
Did I mention snacks? Snacks get double mention.
I know that not everyone wants to be "the" house. They don't want the added responsibility, mess and cost (those tweens can eat A LOT). But we like to be the centre of all the chaos. It feels safer.
Do you like to be the home where all the kids congregate? Or do want to keep the playdates to a minimum?
Want more chaos? Coincidentally, last year I posted about the importance of your kids friends.