Providing a Place Where Everyone Wants to Hang Out



I am never sure from one day to the next how many children might be hanging out in my family room watching a movie or playing board games in the kitchen. Early on in our parenting, my husband and I made it a priority to make sure our children and their friends were comfortable here. There is a very good reason for this: If they are here, we know what they are doing! And because we so frequently have our children’s friends in our home, we have gotten to know them well, which makes us more comfortable when our children ask to spend time with them away from our home.

7 Tips for Encouraging Your Kids and Their Friends to Spend Time at Your House

Over the years, we have learned several lessons about entertaining our children’s friends. Here are some of our tips for providing a safe place for your kids and their friends to spend time together:

  1. Spend some time with your spouse hashing out what the house rules are going to be. Then make sure that your children and their friends are aware of these guidelines. Decide if the rules that apply to your children when they are home by themselves are the same ones that will apply when they have their friends over. For example, do you want them to ask before they get something out of your refrigerator or before they use a video game system? Are the same limits for TV time in effect when friends are over?
  2. Try to be respectful of the rules friends’ parents have imposed, as well. My children have friends who are not allowed to watch PG movies, and others who are not supposed to have sugar. If I am in doubt, I call and ask. It’s a good idea to make a list of parents’ names and phone numbers to have on hand for these occasions (as well as if any emergencies come up!)
  3. Be aware of any allergies. Certain food allergies, such as nut allergies, can be deadly.
  4. Stock up on snacks! Kids like to eat, and providing food will keep them coming around. I stock my freezer full of popsicles for the summer and keep fruit, crackers, and granola bars in the cupboard at all times.
  5. Board games and puzzles can provide hours of screen-free entertainment. We purchase some for our kids for birthdays and Christmas, but I keep a lookout at garage sales and online auctions, too. Balderdash, Hullaballoo, Aggravation, and Group Solitaire are favorites.
  6. Ignore the noise. I’ll be honest, I need an hour or two of quiet time in the morning or at night, but other than that, noise doesn’t really bother me. If your personality is one that really doesn’t like noise, you are going to have to let that go to provide a place for your children’s friends to gather. Somehow, while we may only add two or three children to our own two, the noise intensifies ten-fold!
  7. Invest in some fun outdoor toys. We have a collapsible outdoor pool that provided hours of enjoyment last summer. We also have a variety of balls, badminton equipment, ladder ball, and other outdoor games. When the weather is pleasant, our yard is a great place for the kids to gather!

While having a bunch of extra kids in your house can sometimes be inconvenient, the rewards are well worth the effort. Guiding your children in making good friends now will reap many rewards when they are high school age.

What has worked well for your family to encourage your children and their friends to spend time in your home?

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