15 Oct
Impromptu Play Dates Are Not My Thing

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I am a stay at home mom with three kids. My next door neighbor’s kid keeps dropping by to see if my kids want to play. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were once a week or so, but it’s nearly every single day. Sometimes I pull into the driveway and I haven’t even turned off the car yet and the kid is standing outside my car door. I think she is just bored. But just because I have three kids does not mean I am running Romper Room over here. We have homework to do and I have dinner to cook. I like predictability and I like my schedule. Impromptu play dates are not my thing. I don’t want to be rude and I kind of feel sorry for her but how do I put an end to her daily requests to play?

Signed,


Annoyed

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Annoyed,

I don’t blame you. If this were happening to me I would be annoyed too, unless it meant I could say, “Sure you all can play…over at your house!” Then I would have time to kick up my heels and pursue the oldest and noblest of housewife traditions: sitting on the couch and eating bonbons.

(I like to update that noble tradition so that bonbons = wine.)

(Okay, in reality, I’d probably pick up the house and admire its neatness for the brief five minutes it would last, knowing it will all come to an end the second my kids step back through the door.)

Do you think you could get the neighbor to feed your kids the after-school snack while they are over there? In this economy, you have to look for creative ways to save. Maybe that’s why your neighbor continues to send her child over to play at your house: so you’ll feed her. Oh, we’re onto her now. Start giving the child things like tofu spinach wraps for a snack. If that doesn’t keep her from coming over then the child must be an alien, and in that case, give her whatever she wants to avoid midnight anal probes.

Yours anally intact,
Heather, TMH

23 Responses to “Impromptu Play Dates Are Not My Thing”

10.15.09#1

Comment by Wendi.

We have this problem with our neighbor kid whose mother just sends him over and doesn’t bother to check that he’s even here an hour or so later. So now we immediately shut the garage door, and I tell the boys to ignore the doorbell. The kid’s gonna make a great door-to-door knife salesman some day.

10.15.09#2

Comment by Momof4Luds.

OK, hang on a second here. You have to have a PLAY DATE to hang out with the kids next door? That totally flipped me out when I first moved to the suburbs. No, Matthew can’t play today because he has horseback riding, and Tuesdays he has violin, and Wednesdays and Saturdays are soccer, and Thursday he has a birthday party. How’s a week from next Friday?

I agree, homework and chores come first, and Eager Beaver from next door should be told that, but then isn’t just hanging out and playing preferable to veg-ing out in front of the TV? Don’t people have backyards any more???

Mamaramma Reply:

SERIOUSLY. My biggest memories as a kid were building tree forts, flashlight tag and playing school with the neighbor kids! No appointment necessary 🙂

10.15.09#3

Comment by hokgardner.

We have a huge pack of kids on our street who have all played together since birth, and impromptu playdates are an almost daily feature of our lives.

That having been said, I have no problem telling the neighbor kids that my kids can’t play until they’ve done their homework and chores, and if that takes until dinner time some days, so be it.

I also have no problem heaving the whole crew into the back yard and letting them fend for themselves.

10.15.09#4

Comment by Maggie.

I have to agree with Momof4Luds. Homework comes 1st. But why not turn them loose in the backyard or the neighbor’s backyard while you’re cooking dinner. Remember, it’s not a playdate with YOU, it’s hanging out time between some kids.

And, if your kids are tired or there’s too much to do, ‘no’ always works. After all, tomorrow is another day to play.

10.15.09#5

Comment by Mary.

Momof4Luds took the words right out of my mouth. Shoot. Where I grew up, everyone was always going to everyone else’s house and asking if so and so could play.

Shutting the garage doors and ignoring the doorbell seems a little weird to me.

Mamaramma Reply:

It’s just mean!

10.15.09#6

Comment by Kim.

It’s good to have a nearby neighbor for your kids to play with, and though you may feel put-upon to have to say “No” to that eager child (and your kids too), it’s part of living in the suburbs. Set some ground rules with your neighbor…”During the week, we aren’t available, but we’ll see you on the weekend.” You’ll be glad to be the one to monitor what they are doing when they do play together.

10.15.09#7

Comment by Finn.

I think the biggest problem is that most of us feel that we have to keep an eye on the kids in a way our parents didn’t feel. We all just played around the neighborhood, but now we’re all afraid to give them space. What should be just fun for the kids now becomes an extra responsiblity for the parents.

Mamaramma Reply:

Very true and it also comes from pressure from other moms. We had a neighbor who was so perfect and always had on her A game that it made me nervous when her kids came to play. Not only that, but her kids were whiners and would fight and stomp off back to their house constantly. I was afraid of not watching them hard enough and getting repremanded! LOL

10.15.09#8

Comment by Wendi.

I know it might sound “weird” to hide from the kid in our neighborhood, and I’m all for letting my kids just play outside which they do often, but this particular boy who’s bugging us is always in our yard and ringing our doorbell. We ask him to leave, we ask his mother to not let him come over constantly, but she just lets him run free all afternnon without knowing where he is. So…that’s why we just started ignoring his non-stop doorbell ringing. Not the perfect solution, but that’s what it’s come down to.

10.15.09#9

Comment by assomeoneelse.

Honestly I’m just shocked that some kids actually come to the door. The kids who live next door to us are afraid of our dog, and know that we keep our widows open due to a lack of air conditioning unit. So instead of knocking they stand on the sidewalk and yell for my kids. Which of course kicks up the dog of which they are afeared, making them scream like someone’s got a knife to their throat, making the dog bark even more, making them scream even more….I think you get the idea.

But back to the point, don’t ever be afraid of saying no to other kids. Although we have one here who you say “after homework” and they stand in the yard looking at the house and waiting until the kid in question has finished said homework.

10.15.09#10

Comment by christy.

I dread the day when issues like this become my reality. I’m afraid I’ll be known as the mean mom – NO I’m sorry she can’t play right now you little brat.

Great advice Heather!

10.16.09#11

Comment by Lisa.

Wow. You are seriously complaining about needing routine and predictability, while simultaneously complaining that this kid is over there every day, like clock work. So what’s the prob?

First, have some sympathy for the kid.

Second, set her to work. She meets you at your car door? Great! She can help you carry in groceries.

The kids are doing homework? She can bring over a book to read quietly while they do.

She can either help you make dinner – surely, she can tear lettuce for a salad and set the table – or she can keep out of your way while you do.

This girl (or boy) is obviously at the very least super lonely or at the worst, desperate to escape a miserable home life.

I bet this kid isn’t really what is dragging you down. If there are areas of your life where too much is being asked of you, address that. I have a hard time believing adding one kid to three is really throwing you for that much of a loop.

Kayla Reply:

What a load of bs-
we have our own kids to look after- not a drop in day care.
! I have this problem right now and I don’t want some random kid trashing my house asking for food- not my responsibility – every day is just too much and rude. It’s unfair and I have no idea what goes on at their place or know the ppl so arnt happy leaving my girls there alone.

10.16.09#12

Comment by tornshoelace.

Homework comes first, for sure, but this isn’t a playdate. I think playdates ruin PLAYING. Remember, that thing we used to do when we were kids?

As a kid, everyone in my neighborhood just knocked on each other’s doors when we wanted to play. We WERE out without our parents knowing exactly where we were, but had strict rules about how far we could go and which houses were off limits (also timeframes). If so-and-so couldn’t play, we moved to the next friend’s house. What’s so foreign about that?
Yes, times aren’t as they were, but how can we have changed so much that we don’t recognize kids being kids?

10.21.09#13

Comment by mom, again.

Playdates are scheduled in order to see kids you don’t live near enough to just go back and forth between houses. Kids from school but not your neighborhood, kids from church, kids from karate class or soccer team or dance class.

Playing with the neighbors is just that, they come over, or you go over, and play. You can set limits: not before 4 pm or when homework is over; not after 6 pm or when dinner is ready.

I think it is seriously weird that to expect to control your school aged children’s lives to the point that they can only play with other children at playdates scheduled to suit you.

I think it is seriously sad that that neighbor child is so starved for company that, despite your rebuffs, he keeps showing up.

11.06.09#14

Comment by amy.

Can sympathize, our house is kid central and always has been. I don’t mind though as I know where my kids are but yeah, it would be nice if it was somewhat RECIPROCAL!

05.31.10#15

Comment by kitty.

If it really bothers you that they are always at your house, send them packing to a local park or better yet send your kids to ask if they can play at the neighbors house.

I’m glad there are others here who think like I do. You don’t need to check on your kids constantly or know where they are every second of the day? Geez! Give kids some credit.

When I was 9+ (after grade 4 at least) all the kids in the neighborhood just ran free. Of course we had limits and we knew them but half the time my parents probably didn’t know where I was. Honestly once I was over the age of 9 I was smart enough to have some sort of responsibility over myself. I knew not to go on the street, not to talk to strangers (and definitely not go with them), to be home for dinner, and tell my mum which friend I was going to play with. Actually come to think of it, I was roaming the streets of my area with the neighbour kids after grade 1 & 2(usually with one or 2 older kids too though). Ahhh sweet memories!

Stop helicopter parenting and give kids some space! Of course I have always lived in safe areas so my view id based on others living in similar conditions.

11.04.11#16

Comment by busymom.

Just read this because friend is going through a similar situation. I believe honesty is the best solution myself – just be upfront with the child’s mother about what you are comfortable with. I think it’s a personal thing – some moms have no problem with people coming over uninvited, and to some it feels like an invasion of privacy or family time. I don’t think we should be quick to judge – it’s this mother’s home and her family’s, and what she wants should go. It doesn’t say whether her kids like playing with this child on a regular basis, or if they all find it annoying. It also doesn’t sound as if this child is just now and then – it sounds almost continual – which would be annoying. Anything in moderation (visits, phone calls to ask to play, etc.) is ok – but anything done to excess (where it clearly isn’t appreciated) just is rude. Not the child (who doesn’t know any better and has good intentions) but the mother is being rude. If you haven’t reciprocated (invited child over) then her continuing to send her over is rude. I’m not sure why this is so complicated. If you indeed want your children to be friends with this girl, but on a more limited and convenient basis, then simply tell the mother that when you have time and kids are interested, you will invite her over – or call on her (so it’s not so one sided). It has to work for the mother – she doesn’t need to deal with another kid at end of day if she’s not up for it.

11.04.11#17

Comment by busymom.

Just to follow up, I’ve done that with all my neighbours (just set some ground rules to begin with) and then just let my children sort it out themselves – I don’t tend to get too involved. My rules were just not until homework was done, not during family time (if my kids just wanted to play together, as they often do after busy school day), of if an actual play date was going on (if they had a special friend over and just wanted to play with them). My kids were comfortable saying “no not today, but we will tomorrow if it’s good”. That avoids all kinds of hurt feelings. We also let the kids play out front (basketball net, hockey sticks etc, and on bikes) and if friends came along and said “want to play” it was casual, easy going, and I didn’t feel I was babysitting. I would sometimes provide popsicles, etc. but I didn’t have kids all coming in to use bathroom or eat me out of house and home – just set some ground rules, and then let the kids handle it. We did as children – times haven’t changed that much. But if people are rude (which I feel the other mother is being) just deal with it upfront. I once had to say “I would prefer… in case it’s not a convenient time, and that way it will avoid disappointment for the kids” if you really have to. Honesty (just saying what you would prefer) seriously is the best thing to do. You don’t have to hide!!

Mamaramma Reply:

If I’m not in the mood, I make them play outside too, then I don’t feel pressure to mess with them. Like right now, I’m on the computer being a lazy bum and they’re out running in the backyard! It’s freezing, but their kids and don’t care!

10.29.13#18

Comment by Mamaramma.

I think it’s sad how annoyed so many of you are by a CHILD. I personally have an only child who loves to play and is a little social butterfly. All of our old neighbors had 3 children households, so if she heard them out playing of course she wants to join in the fun! While nothing was ever said to me and most of the time she was playing with 5 or 6 kids outside, I told her no a lot for fear of moms like some of you who see a playful child as a nuisance. I never mind the kids coming to our house, they’re only little for a short amount of time. I’ve been on the other side too. We have 2 very annoying neighbor kids who lack manners, but instead of writing them off or hurrying and closing our garage door, my daughter’s good behavior has rubbed off on them and after we’ve laid down the law, they’re really sweet kids. I would love to have little feet running around the house all the time, but unfortunately God didn’t have that plan for me and I find parents of multiples don’t send their kids to play often because I think they feel like it’s a lot for me to deal with since I only have one. And as for the parent not calling you or checking if their kid is there, I didn’t either because I watched her from the upstairs window walk over there. Give some credit and get off your mommy pedestal!

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