Summer is almost here, in my neck of the woods. School is almost out.
Maybe it’s because we have a lot of kids (compared to the ‘average’ family), but our house tends to be THAT house…the one all the kids gather at. Kids I’ve never even seen in the neighbourhood before tend to end up in our yard.
Honestly, I don’t mind having a yard full of kids. But, it would absolutely help if there were a few ground rules that everyone could agree on.
1. I have a *small* house, folks. I don’t mind the yard teeming with kids, shrieking, running around, and general chaos and mayhem…but I do insist it stays outside. Sure, come in to use the bathroom, please DON’T pee in the yard, but other than that, it’s outside while your kid is here playing. With five kids of our own living here, two of them young enough to be potty training and napping regularly, I don’t need the chaos in the house. So, if it’s raining, please don’t send your child over to play inside, ok?
2. I don’t serve meals. Snacks upon occasion, depending on what I found on sale, but that’s it. Please don’t send your kid with a list of dietary restrictions, and/or an expectation of being fed.
3. Water is always available to drink. Yes, tap water, from the fridge. If Jr won’t drink plain water, then he’ll be sent home for a drink, or send a water bottle with whatever in it.
4. Yes, we’re up early, but please don’t let your kid over to bang on our door at the butt crack of dawn. After 10am is good.
5. Speaking of sending kids over, little kids over alone isn’t a good idea. I have two young Minions of my own to wrangle, and I’m not outside all day. I can’t watch your toddlers for you. Sending them over with an older sibling is also a no go, because your older child wants to play, and can’t be counted on not to get distracted, and to take care of the little person.
6. I’m not a daycare. Please don’t assume that I’ll keep your kid until you’re done running errands.
7. Water fights are a normal thing here. If Jr isn’t allowed to get wet or dirty, please keep him home.
8. Kids don’t always get along. It happens. So, sometimes, I have to send a kid home, and tell them, “We’ll try this again tomorrow.” Turning up at my door, to yell at me about why your kid isn’t allowed to play in my yard is just going to guarantee that he or she isn’t welcome back. Ever. Kids are enough to deal with, without having raging parents in my face.
9. If we’re not home, your child isn’t welcome to play. Sounds like a ridiculous thing to have to say, but having come home to be greeted with kids in my yard, it needs to be said.
10. We may be THAT house, but we don’t do field trips. So, no, your kid can’t come with us to the lake/beach/store/where ever else we’re going.
11. We’re a family. Sometimes, we just don’t want extra kids around, and want time with our own. Alone. It’s not an insult to your child, we just need some time as a family.
12. If your child is old enough to show up in my yard, unattended, I assume they’re also old enough to see themselves home. Please don’t yell at me for your child being home late. Either come and get them, or buy them a watch and teach them how to use it.
13. I can’t be everywhere at once. Backyard is on more the ‘free range’ side of life, vs the ‘helicopter’ side. If you’re uncomfortable with that, and prefer your child is under the watchful eye of an adult at all times, please don’t send them over.
14. Not everything is free to use. The kids bikes, for example. No, we don’t have a shed to put them in, and I’m not having them dragged into the house. So yes, they’re visible. But, they’re too expensive to replace, so they’re not for anyone but my kids to use.
15. Please don’t send your kids with electronics, or other expensive stuff. I can’t afford to replace anything that might get broken or damaged, and as I mentioned in #7, water fights happen.
See? Not an unreasonable list. Just some basic things so that I can keep my sanity (mostly) intact.
And, if you want to host a dozen or so kids in your yard, I promise my kids will follow your rules, too.