I, Sarah Trover... don't have children. There I said it! They weave their way into my life in many ways and are always welcome in my home, especially when we entertain. But how do we retain our sanity? Do we baby proof the space? Is there a box of goldfish crackers stashed in the back of our pantry for just such an occasion? We've learned a great deal over the years, so email this post to friends and family who just aren't getting how it works — because although getting a sitter and having a night out is fun, there's no reason why kids shouldn't be able to come with!
When we tell people all of our get togethers and bashes are kid friendly we always get a strange look. It's almost as if they're saying, "There's no way I'm bringing my kids, there won't be anything to play with and they'll just end up breaking something." Alnd although it's happened a few times, when you set out to throw a party where children are invited, as the host or hostess there's a few things you should learn to expect:
What To Expect
1. Things Will Get Touched: Anything below 4 feet is fair game. If you don't want it broken, switch shelves for the evening or tuck it out of sight. Should you rearrange your whole house? Probably not, but if you really have that many breakables below 4 feet, you might want to reconsider your decor anyway, that's just silly.
2. Pets Are Movable Play Toys: Some pets love children and some pets loathe them. Try breaking your pets into small human interaction slowly to help keep their terror down. If not, a crate or shut bedroom is always a good idea. Tails are for pulling (sometimes) and backs are for riding on... that's just how it goes and chances are they'll love every minute of it (kids and pets alike!).
3. There Will Be Noise: When your house is child free, most the noise comes from your own doings. Singing to the radio at the top of your lungs or forgetting to turn off the tv when you left the room and The View is suddenly on — and louder than ever. The initial shock of having giggling and sometimes screaming children in your house can be extreme. Resist the urge to scream back and make sure you don't hiss or snap your fingers at them like you would your pet when the mailman drops off the mail. Just deal.
• Once you start to expect things, then it's a little easier to let go of the grumpies and have a good time. If you're slightly prepared for tiny humans to enter your place it makes things so much easier. Although there's many things parents should be doing to keep their kids in check, there's several things you can do to help them out and relieve some of the stress they might be feeling as well.
Things To Do In Advance
1. Have A Toy Stash: Although most folks without kids don't have a toy box full of the latest toys laying around, there are a few classics that have the ability to entertain any child of any age. Usually they'll be the things you remember playing with most when you were their age. Legos, Hot Wheels and a Mr. Potato head and you'll be set for life. In our own home we have all 3 and parents never even have to bust out the toys they brought to entertain their children. If we had to choose just one of those items it would be Hot Wheels. For years they were the only item we had to entertain kids, but we let them know where they were when they came in the door (in a large cracker jar in plain sight... 24/7... not in the back of a closet somewhere). Now they all head straight for it and most the other toys we have on hand are forgotten about.
2. Kid Friendly Snacks: Now we never really go out of our way to keep kid friendly snacks on hand, we're not packing our cabinets full of gummy fruit snacks or goldfish crackers by any means, but we usually try to keep pretzels, nuts, cheese, grapes, small finger foods on hand that are identifiable by kids, because 9 times out of 10 it pacifies even the most cranky tiny tot. Having a plate of them set out at their level will help keep them from climbing your kitchen chair and will allow them to self soothe when a munchie attack strikes.
3. Set Boundaries: In our home we have lots of "grown-up toys." My husband is a vinyl toy collector and we have all sorts of things that appear kid friendly but really aren't. Most of them are on shelves slightly out of reach of small hands, but we still make a point to go show the children who visit what's on the shelves and lift them up. They know they are grownup toys and that they aren't for playing, but showing them what they're so curious about goes a long way to making sure no one climbs your bookcase.
4. Exercise Pets: Although you'll be busy gearing up for your get together, make sure you take time to exercise your pets, this is more important for dogs than it is cats and even if you don't have time, see if there's a neighbor kid who needs $5 to take them around the block a few times. Tired pets are less stressed out and will be more comfortable around children. Make sure they have full water so when the chasing around the living room starts, they'll be hydrated and have less chance of getting frustrated with your tiny visitors.
5. Serve Food That Your Sofa Will Survive: Although I don't think any parent is going to let their child shove an entire pot pie in their friend's sofa, drinks (even as simple as 7-Up and Cranberry juice for a festive holiday bash) and crumbly snacks alike will always find their way to the floor. A drip here, a spill there, a trail of bread crumbs... they're all to be expected and not because your friends are horrible parents and can't keep the kiddos in check, that's just how it works. Have a spray bottle of your favorite cleanser ready to go and arm yourself with the phrase, "Dude, no worries, it's not a big deal!" (even if you're freaking out inside)
6. Put Away Your Electronics & Lock Down Your Computer: Children of all ages come pre-wired with the knowledge of how to use a computer and all electronics. Although we mentioned showing them the things they can't touch, this isn't one of those things. Turn on your password protection for your computer (unless you can just put a laptop in a dresser drawer for the night) and for heavens sake, anything starting with a lowercase "i" should be out of sight, out of mind. They can not play with things they don't know exist!
7. Interact With The Kids: Even though the parents are the ones in charge of their children, it's still your house and what you say goes... but not if you don't interact with them to let them know that! It's easy to leave the ootchie cootchie talk to the parents, but there's nothing wrong with telling them why that Hot Wheel is your favorite or hanging them upside down by their feet once in awhile. No matter what your biological clock is telling you, kids aren't scary!
• Although many of you already know most the things on this list as parents, there might be friends or family members of yours who could use a clue. You know the ones... they invite you over and instantly you groan, knowing you'll have to get a sitter and then you won't be able to stay as long and you consider not going at all and making up an excuse instead (which is why you had kids to begin with right? Legitimate excuses?) . Send this list to them! Help your loved ones get a clue, because for many without kids, even though the above items seem like common knowledge, there's a good chance they're still in the dark!
Do you have anything to add to the list above? Let us know in the comments below!