The place to be…

When I was a student I have fond memories of hanging out at a particular family’s house. It seemed that every weekend we ended up there. The parents would go to bed on Friday night with no one in the house except them, and wake up on Saturday morning with up to fifteen sleeping bodies on mattresses strewn over their house wherever a spot could be found.  

It was a great time of connecting with friends and spending time getting out and doing things together, or simply just hanging out at the house. And here is the crazy thing – we were just as good friends with the parents as we were with their kids – but with the respect of older people still there in the relationship. I decided then that when I had a family, I wanted my children’s friends to see our house like we saw that house. I wanted my kids friends to want to hang out at our house.


So what was the secret of making a house the “place to be”?

The first thing is to say “yes”. When your kids want to organize something with their friends…just say yes. We have had 30 kids for a movie evening (with all of them getting a burger). We have had barbecues organised. We have had sleep overs. We have had “band practices (very loud band practices). We have had a girl’s tea party – with our good tea set and cupcakes and shortbread. We have said yes to parents asking if their kids can stay with us because they needed to go somewhere. Just say yes.

The second thing that is vital for kids to want to hang out at your place is to make sure there is food. Food can be expensive, but it is so worth it to have your home the place to be. Food gathers people. Feed them…and they will come.

Add things to your house to make it appealing. We don’t have room for a pool table or table tennis table (although these are great attractions), but we did have a soccer table game for a bit. We have board games and a range of DVD’s to watch. We have built an outdoor fire pit for those colder evenings around the fire with roasted marshmallows. Be creative…

Be their friends (but still be the authority). This is the difficult one. Finding that balance is what makes them feel welcome, but safe at the same time. But also give them their space – you are still the adult and they want to hang with their friends.

Be prepared to give up your space. You may not be able to sit in the lounge and watch a movie – instead there may be 30 kids crammed in front of the TV – having fun while you are flipping burgers. 

Go out of your way to make it happen. Suggest to your kids things to do and events to organize for your children. Be proactive to make your place the place to come to. Have an open door policy…

Make memories…

In this day and age, knowing where your kids are over-rides the minimal stress you have with so many children roaming your house.

But more than that is this…making memories for you and your kids at your house, with you in the picture, is very rewarding as a parent. And they still talk about it years later…

The place to be…

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