Practical or Foolish, how are the stops in your home from the neighborhood kids? Do you seldom see your own children?
Often as parents we only remember the negative situations with our children’s neighborhood friends. Parents need to have the real facts and data so they can back up their needs with what has been happening.
Keeping track of time is important
Summer time breeds neighborhood kids and your front door banging open and shut. Summer time generates a lot of children in your livingroom or backyard. Summer time can foster close family time.
I encourage parents to keep a small notebook with playtime interactions that include the date and the length of time the kids played together in their own home as well as how often they were next door at their peers home. Knowing that your child was also at their home eight times this week makes it not seem so bad when their child shows up the ninth time this week. It is also important to realize if this was a ‘normal’ week of interactions or if it was out of the norm.
Stop bad habits before it is too late
It is much easier to stop the overuse of your home when you first noticing it happen than trying to correct a situation after it has become more of a habit. Make sure you know what is happening at the start of your summer so you are able to modify the play dates prior to it becoming a long hot July and even longer, hotter August.
As an international school counselor I often have parents find their family living on compounds or camps so this closeness and setting a play boundary is a huge concern for many families. Some families find that their own living room is overrun with kids as soon as the school day is over. It often helps to have the rule that all kids must “go home” first before they can come back to play. This allows all those important school papers to get to their own home instead of being left at your house. It also allows the child to possibly eat an afterschool snack at their own home creating less of a mess in your own home. I think the biggest benefit is it allows you to check in with our own children to see what their day was like and if they have any major things that need to be taken care of before play starts.
Home first then play
This is also wise during summer hours. If your child goes off to a dance class, always make them come into your own home first before going next door to play. This allows her to put up her dance shoes and dance bag. She can grab a snack and get ready for a play date next door. If your child leaves from the car directly, those special dance shoes might remain at the neighbors and will not be easy to find before the next dance class.
Rules and Meltdowns
I encourage parents to be honest with their own children first before they approach the neighborhood kids or parents. Parents should avoid having their own child meltdown when they are addressing the problem of too much time together or limiting the use of playtime at their own home.
Once you make the rules public, you need to keep to your own rules. Families deserve to have special time as a family unit. This is one benefit of the longer summer hours and the kids out of school. Don’t let your home become a place where you can’t take advantage of this family time.