“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher
Parents frequently spend significant time tailoring their home to their children’s needs. So you might be wondering why you need to contemplate whether your home is child-friendly before your kids’ friends come over. The answer is that all children are different, and what your child loves might be precisely what other kids hate.
In order to make your house a welcoming location for your child’s friends, it’s important to think about how your home appears to an unfamiliar child. Is it welcoming or scary? Is there a variety of food available? Is there entertainment for children with a variety of interests? If your child’s friends feel welcome and comfortable at your house, they’re more likely to want to come back. And if your child’s friends love spending time at your house, you’ll get to spend more time with your child!
Choose the Right Foods
If your child is a picky eater, you’ve probably adapted your pantry to her preferences. But most children are picky about the foods they choose, and some foods pose significant health risks to children, so it’s important to take stock of your food supply before your child’s friends visit.
Stock up on a variety of finger foods such as granola bars, cookies, string cheese and similar items that require no preparation. Avoid giving children anything containing peanuts unless you’ve talked to their parents first. Peanut allergies are increasingly common, and can provoke a life-threatening reaction in allergic children.
Choose Media Carefully
Media such as video games, movies and tv shows can be a source of stress between children and their parents. You might allow your child to watch things her friends aren’t allowed to. Getting in trouble with friends’ parents is a surefire recipe to make this playdate the last, so choose the media you allow children to see carefully. Anything containing violence, sex or drug use should be taken off of the playlist.
This doesn’t mean you have to show children nothing but cartoons and “family” movies. Many edgy comedies or science fiction movies are perfectly appropriate for children with little violence or other inappropriate topics. If you’re not sure what movies are acceptable or you have older children whom you allow to watch “controversial” movies, talk to the parents of your child’s friend.
Stock Up On Entertainment
Young children in particular frequently struggle with entertaining themselves, so make sure you have plenty of toys and other sources of entertainment around. Art supplies, stickers, dress-up supplies, video games and outdoor toys are generally good choices for children of most ages.
Similarly, children are better able to entertain themselves when they have lots of room to play and ample sleeping space. If your child frequently has sleepvers, a small additional bed will serve you well. Consider buying an extra bed, such as a twin captain’s bed.
While it’s important for kids to obey rules, it’s equally important that your child’s friends feel comfortable in your home. Avoid disciplining your child’s friends unless it’s absolutely necessary and you have explicit permission from their parents to do so.
With the proper supplies and a little bit of effort, your house can quickly become the place your children’s friends love visiting. Take the time to get to know your children’s friends. When they become teenagers, you’ll be grateful for your involvement in their life and will love hearing your children’s friends refer to you as the cool parent. And when your kids’ friends like you, your children will be less inclined to write you off as irrelevant and boring.
About the Author
Christobel Edwards lives in London, one of the most exciting cities in the world. She became a grandmother two years ago, and views this as an important next chapter in life, although she’s slowly learning to keep her mouth shut! She loves getting presents for her grandchild and recently bought her a children’s bunk beds with stairs.