25 Aug
The Hostess With The Mostest Is M.I.A.

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My daughter is 7 and has a few friends at school that she likes to play with after school or on weekends. All of the parents have no problem with my daughter coming over to play and they only have good things to say about her. The problem is that I don’t really like to host kids over at my house. There are a few reasons for this:

First, I have four rambunctious dogs and two cats. The dogs get too excited while the cats aren’t nice (nor do they always use their litter box, much to my dismay.)

Second, I am not an overly tidy person. My house is clean enough for me and my family, but it could use some work for “strangers.”

And finally, I’m just not the hostess type and I’m okay with this fact. I don’t intend to change.

My problem is that one parent keeps pushing for a play date at my house. She has stopped inviting my daughter over and, instead, keeps mentioning the kids playing over here. I need to know how to get her off my back about it while not divulging my issues. I don’t want to offend her because I do like the mom and I don’t want to cause any problems with the children. I even thought about coming up with some phobia, but not sure what would fit.

Signed,

Martha Stewart Doesn’t Live Here

__________________________________________________________

Dear Martha Stewart Doesn’t Live Here,

In the very pressurized and etiquette laden world of Mommy and Me meetings and scheduled progeny play dates it is, in fact [just looking up the bylaws here, one minute. OK. Got it.] against the law to not reciprocate when it comes to hosting, penalty can be equal to: The Silent Treatment, The Rumor Mill, or Public Shunning. Even Hannibal the Cannibal knew all about quid pro quo. So, perhaps we should discuss a different strategy?

First, let’s address the pets. While I understand it has to be very difficult to have people over when it seems like your home is already a 24-hour animal party, it’s important to be able to put the animals away, perhaps in another room(s). Because unless your animals are descendants of Cerberus (I once had a dog who was) and are all on a career path to guarding the gates of hell, you should sequester them every once in a great while, for a few hours, so that you can reciprocate a play date.

Second, as to your cleanliness standards, a wise…no, wait…a waif-like girl once said: “I’m horrible to live with. I don’t clean. My clothes end up wherever I take them off. I forget to flush the toilet.” And she was in Transformers 1 and 2 and on the Maxim Hot List! While we can’t all be Megan Fox, it does show you that success isn’t predicated upon cleanliness. A lot of other mothers have similar anxieties about how clean their houses should be. But in reality, most parents don’t really care if their kid has a friend whose house isn’t perfect or tidy or uncluttered. As long as Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller aren’t permanent residents on your couch, I believe even the most neurotic of moms would let you slide (and, yes, I am talking about me).

Finally, with regard to the hostess duties, I’m not sure what kind of highfalutin’ fancy pants play dates you attend, but the majority that I’m aware of don’t require much except your kid, a glass of water and maybe some cheddar Goldfish. But then it’s always possible that I’m hanging with the wrong crowd, and by wrong crowd, I mean not with Bill Gates’ kids.

Basically, it’s only fair to share the responsibilities and wreckage that comes with kids’ playdates. And while we all certainly want to put our best foot forward, sometimes just putting out an unshaved leg with non-manicured toes is all it takes for everyone to be happy.

Good Luck,

Tonya, TMH

29 Responses to “The Hostess With The Mostest Is M.I.A.”

08.25.11#1

Comment by Schmamy.

Or could she be the mom who takes her turn (as should do) but at the park?? Bring the water and goldfish etc – but not in her own home?

08.25.11#2

Comment by SarcasticMoo.

She could take the kids to a movie, the local park or out to some other fun place. My house is a wreck so I can completely sympathize!

Tonya Reply:

Wow! Thanks to you and Schmamy! I never even thought of those alternatives. Brilliant!

08.25.11#3

Comment by Plano Mom.

Ditto to both above.

Also, as for cleaning, keep them in your kids’ bedroom. Everyone knows kids are slobs. Then you just have to make sure there’s no toxic waste in the bathroom.

08.25.11#4

Comment by Kelly.

My favorite houses to GO TO as a kid were the ones that were crazy and chaotic and messy. Mine was too quiet and too well-behaved and it was in the “crazier” houses that I felt I could just relax and be myself. ALSO…think about the long term…as your kids grow up, wouldn’t you rather their friends be regulars around your messy house? A lot easier to keep tabs on things when your kids and their friends are hanging out in your digs!

08.25.11#5

Comment by Bean.

Are your kids ashamed of the condition of your house? DH grew up in a house that was so bad he was too ashamed to invite people over. He’s still upset about it, and he’s not the kind to hold grudges.

If your kids aren’t ashamed, invite people over. If they are ashamed, the cleaning issue may be bigger than you think – and host somewhere else.

Marinka Reply:

Excellent point. It’s important to take your child’s temperature on this issue. Kids LOVE having their friends over, so that they can show them their room, their stuff, etc. and your daughter may feel like she’s missing out not having anyone over.

08.25.11#6

Comment by Jen.

I have a similar problem but on the other end new have a nice but modest house and I’m very tidy. My daughters best friend lives in a tiny apartment, her parents are both students and work part time. They also have a managerie
of pets and 2 other kids so if the girls get together it’s usually at our house. I’m not goin to lie and say this doesn’t bug me because while
I do understand it’s still exhausting to be the host all the time. Every once in a while this other mom will take the girls out somewhere like the park or the mall or to ride bikes while she walks the dogs or whatever. This totally restores my faith in the fact that I’ll be able to handle it go these girls are friends thru grade school. Another idea is sometimes the other mom will bring us dinner when Ive had the girls all afternoon. Nothing lavish, just soup and a loaf of bread or a pizza but let me tell you that act of thoughtfulness goes a looooong way. It just aknowledges that she values my time.

08.25.11#7

Comment by Danielle.

Jees. I never understand why people let pets run their life. I have 4 giant dogs and when people come over I put them out in the yard. That’s what it’s there for. I wouldn’t tolerate cats using my house as a restroom either. Love my pets, their like children, but they aren’t really children. Put them away.

08.25.11#8

Comment by Renee.

I’m one of those weird moms who would rather have the kids at my house. I really don’t allow my kids to go somewhere I don’t fully trust the parents so our house is the neighborhood house to go to. And I don’t really mind until I”m treated like the babysitter. But I’d rather know who my kids are playing with and what they are up to.

Plus we have a huge yard with lots of toys we’ve gathered over the years. So it’s not that much of a hardship most times and it keep my kids from driving me nuts about how BORED they are.

08.25.11#9

Comment by Leah.

I am the mom who would rather have the kids play at my house. I know some of the other parents and am not really thrilled about their kid-watching skills, so at least this way I know they are safe. We have a pool, a huge back yeard stuffed with toys, AND a dog we put up in his own yard so he does not bother the kids.
My house is not always tidy, but that is what makes it a home and the kids (mine and everyone else’s) love it that way.

Tonya Reply:

A pool, backyard filled with toys, even the dog has his own yard, can I come live with you?

08.25.11#10

Comment by Kelcey.

I find hosting playdates exhausting. It’s basically more kids to take care of. I think it’s only fair for both families to share hosting duties.

Michelle Reply:

I totally agree with you! People who don’t reciprocate are just plain rude and selfish. They are full of cop out excuses! When I have families that try to advantage if me I tend to keep the playdates with those kids to a bare minimum and encourage friendships with kids whose parents aren’t so one sided. When I find parents that keep things fair I tend to go out of my way to setup playdates and keep the friendship going!=)

08.25.11#11

Comment by Emily.

I agree with the above. I would be concerned if my house became the one where my kids didn’t feel like they could invite friends. That’s just asking them to spend more time parking and less time in the living room later in life 🙂

sequester the animals, run the vaccuum and clean a toilet. It will be fine. I have noticed that most of the time when I have play dates here, no one even uses the restroom. and they don’t need to see the rest of the house if you don’t want to clean it.

but really, you should probably try to step it up a little bit so that your kids are comfortable bringing people in their home.

My brother in law used to bring my sister in through his window because he was so embarassed at his parent’s housekeeping.

No one expects perfection – but a level that you’re comfortable with people stopping by would be nice.

08.25.11#12

Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

“And finally, I’m just not the hostess type and I’m ok with this fact and I don’t intend to change.”

Well, la-de-da! If you don’t intend to change, do expect that your children will NOT be invited over to these other kids’ houses anymore when the other parents realize that you’re a deadbeat. Playdates are a give and take. And all you’re doing is takin’.

There’s many ways to host as listed above. It sounds to me like you’re just not willing to put forth any effort.

Michelle Reply:

I agree with you totally! It is sooo rude and selfish not to reciprocate! Parents that don’t just gave cop out excuses! It’s called taking advantage of or using others and it’s wrong! There lots of good suggestions in this blog such as a park, McDonald’s or taking the kids to a movie if that us what you prefer! For gods sake do something in return! Of course the other parents who keep hosting your kids are going to get sick of it and feel used! It’s totally justified!

08.25.11#13

Comment by ckh.

I’ve learned to just let it go. I am who I am.

Though, when I had kids say that their moms are better at cleaning house than I was, I got down to their level and looked them in the eye and said, “That may be true, but it’s not polite to say it out loud.”

BrassyDel Reply:

When my niece was about 7 she was at my house and made a snotty comment about my floors not being clean. I suggested she wash them herself.

Oddly enough, she has not commented on my floors since.

08.25.11#14

Comment by Mindy.

I use to be the same way. BUT I’d rather have my daughter and her friends at my house than at someone else’s house. This way I know what they are up to and that they are safe.

08.25.11#15

Comment by dusty earth mother.

I’m the most “relaxed” hostess you’ve ever seen. And I have dogs. Have the kids over, for pete’s sake.

08.26.11#16

Comment by BrassyDel.

Reciprocating is definitely important, but I wonder just how “untidy” and unruly it is at this house? I had some very close friends growing up whose house was in the realm of Hoarders bad. And if that’s your house, you simply DON’T invite your kids’ friends over, with very specific exceptions.

If you want your child to be invited to play somewhere else, you MUST reciprocate. Otherwise you’re a mooch. Let’s face it: none of the other mommies want to watch 6 other kids, either.

In this case, the dogs may be the best scape-goat (scape-pooch?), if the home situation just really isn’t appropriate for company. Talk to the other mommies and tell them that you “really wish” you could have the other kids over for playdates, but the training situation with your pack of dogs makes it a terrible idea, and then ask THEM if they can suggest any other ways for you to “take [your] turn with the kids”.

Someone might suggest the park, or they might just ask if you could help supply snacks every so often. The key is acknowledging that there’s some kind of expectation of reciprocity, and noting that you are not simply using everyone else as a free babysitter, and OFFERING to be involved. You need to make sure that the other mommies don’t feel taken advantage of, but you don’t necessarily have to invite the kids over to your own house to accomplish that.

Tony Reply:

Well thought-out and balanced reply. I wish there were a way to bump this to the top of the comments.

08.26.11#17

Comment by crazymom.

Tell her the truth. You value your time with her and her kids, but your house is not a good place for a playdate. And do consider meeting at the park, or at a place that has a kids playground like McDonalds or something like that. If she is truly your friend, she’ll understand completely.

08.26.11#18

Comment by GrandeMocha.

I used to feel the same way about a mom in my neighborhood until I found out his mom is a registered sex offender. Now I don’t care, he’s not going over there no matter how nice their pool is.

08.26.11#19

Comment by Lisa.

You let your cats $&@! In your house and you do not consider it a problem worth addressing?!?!? This isn’t dusting, or clutter, or piles of laundry or a week’s worth of dishes in the sink.

Trust me, let kids play at your house once, tell their folks about the filth and they won’t be bothering you anymore.

And for heavens sake find out what is going on with your cats! They have problems either health wise or emotional.

Karin Reply:

My friend’s husband has an older cat who started peeing all over the place (marking her territory) when they got married they worked really hard to get that cleared up and finally, something they did worked (I don’t know what). But now, an outdoor cat keeps coming up on their deck, spotting kitty and peeing on the sliding glass door. Kitty is going nuts and again marking her territory… it might be as simple as being taunted by an outdoor cat at the window.

08.28.11#20

Comment by Amy.

I find it terribly sad that your laziness (seriously, animal crap? SERIOUSLY??) and your lack of willingness to change is interfering with your kids’ social lives.

What’s going to happen when they outgrow playdates, and they want to have a friend over to study or to hang out? They won’t be able to, because Mom’s a slob and it’s really going to embarrass them. It’s their house too!

No one expects a house with small children to be immaculate, but YOU OWE IT TO YOUR CHILDREN to have a home that’s sanitary and safe, and it doesn’t sound like yours is. Watch a couple episodes of Hoarders, where the kids talk about how ashamed they are, and how horrible they feel coming home, and then get yourself some help – whether it’s in the form of obedience school for your dogs, or psychiatry to deal with hoarding (I have a feeling you’re downplaying your problem in this letter, and that’s what it really is), or meds for depression if you can’t drag yourself off the couch to clean, or professional help cleaning if that’s what it takes.

Don’t you love your children enough to make them a warm, happy, safe, comfortable home?

09.06.11#21

Comment by How to Make New Friends When You're a Mom | The Mouthy Housewives.

[…] Own who you are. Be friendly and approachable. Volunteer to help out at school. Invite your daughter’s friends over to your house for playdates and make sure she’s friendly and polite when she goes over to their houses. Give the other […]

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