19 answers

Snacks and Neighbors

Does anyone else feel like they "live with" their neighbors. My neighbor has a 5 and 3 year old. we have a 3 and 9 month old. The two three year olds are boys. It seems as if we have no privacy. We like them, but we don't want to spend all our free time with them. We would like to do things at home as a family... and not do it with the neighbor children. This rarely happens. We don't let our child go over to their house unattended, but they feel free to let both their children come over unattended to our home and backyard. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to approach this with the neighbors... they don't have too many boundaries. Also the snacks they serve are mostly chips, cheese puffs and those freezer pops. I try to do healthy snacks, like fruit or crackers and cheese, but I don't want to feed their kids all the time. I try to limit snacks they eat together, but the freeze pops come out 2-3 times a day in the summer. I just lost my job, so I'm bound to be spending most of my summer taking care of all 4 kids.

I need a tactful way to NOT have the kids over every single day, be able to spend time with just my own children in my own backyard and not have to leave the house each day as money is tight now...

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Go over there and say something like "I'm really busy these days but I know the kids enjoy playing together. let's schedule a play date, how about wednesday from 1 - 3 o'clock." At the time you suggest the play date end, take the kids back or call the parent to let them know how much fun they had and to say you should schedule another play date soon.

You will just have to make it short and to the point with these kids. When they come to the door, and you don't want them say " I'm sorry_____ can't play today, and shut the door.


More Answers

When I was a little girl I had a neighborhood friend, her mom would say "I'm sorry Tabitha can't play now we are having family time." I remember thinking I wish we had family time at our house. The sign is a great idea! I'd put, I'm sorry can't play now FAMILY TIME on one side then WELCOME KIDS! We would love to play on the other. That way if they see you in the back yard you just send them home, "Sorry, family time, come back later or tomorrow." I have stopped feeding neighborhood children. There are just to many of them. I will only give a snack to a child I invited over, the rest if they ask for food I tell them they need to go home if they are hungry, get something to eat and come back. I say it in a kind way. I would never expect a neighbor to feed my kids. No reasonable neighbor is going to hold it against you if you send their child home when they are hungry. Good fences make good neighbors! Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree that you need to speak to the parents of these kids. My mom is one of 5 kids, and when she was growing up, there was a family that lived in the house behind them and there were 6 (?) kids in that family, and they were all around the same ages, so they all played together. One of the things that I would say to this other family is that 'I am glad the kids have this chance to play and be friends (because it's good for their development.) but I think we need to set up specific play times for the kids to play together.' Bring up having an almost one year old as well as the three year old, having the two kids they have, they should understand that. One thing I saw on an episode of Dr. Phil is that there was this mother who had the same problem you guys have ... only her kids were older. The kids friends were always coming over, which left no room for not only family time, but home work time. The mother made two signs out of wood. One said, "The kids can't play right now, come back later." and the other side said "Feel free to come and play." As for the snacks, I have a similar problem with my kids ... and my grandmother ... (she babysits while I work or am in school ..) I try to keep my 2 and a half year old and 13 month old from eating too much sugar ... I was addicted to it and as a result, don't eat as healthy as I should. Just tell your neighbor that while a sugary treat is okay every once in a while, as a general rule, you prefer your kids to eat fruit and stuff as a snack. There is a good brand of popsciles that I think are made by Edy's ... they're made with real fruit, just be careful because they stain. Good luck and happy early birthday to your daughter and belated birthday to your son.

I cannot wait to read the answers you get here because I have a couple of families on my street that have unsupervised kids and they wanna play with my boy all the time. So I also feel like I'm gonna turn in to babysitter if I cannot figure out how to get it across to the kids that we need privacy sometimes. Also I don't want the parents to think I am being a witch or something if you get my meaning.

We had the exact same situation several years ago until our neighbors moved away, only our kids were the exact same age and therefore very good playmates. When they came over (which was several times a day), we would say "the kids are not ready to play today" or they are busy, or whatever. You may need to address the snack issue with the other mom.

Hello P., There is a saying that says "we teach people how to treat us". I had a neighbor family that was very close also. But I had to set some rules of my own. When the kids come over without a parent, simply say to the child that they need to come over with mommy or daddy. If they won't go home on their own, then take them by the hand and walk them home. Explain to the parent that you are just too busy to always be watching their children, and would they please keep them home unless they come with a parent. Talk openly about your feelings regarding snack time. It is not rude to set health boundries. It's good for all types of relationships to set rules, boundries, and manners. Even communities as a whole do this to keep the peace. Good luck P., I know that you can do this.

We also had this problem... But we were not friendly with the neighbors, so... We didn't care about tact unfortuatley. We just took their child by the hand and deposited him back on their porch and rang the door bell. It is VERY bad parenting to just let your kids roam and go to a neighbors .

Now we have other neighbors who if our kids want to go over each others houses we always look outside and call down to see if it is OK to let our child come down and play and feel very comfortable saying no if the time isn't good.

In our old neighborhood, a family put up a flag pole. If the flag was up, your kids where welcome to come and play, if it was down that it wasn't which worked out great.

It's very unfortunate that there are parents out there that put us in this perdicament(sp?). I thought we as parents are suppose to watch our own children??? And being a parent we all know how hard it is sometimes to wath our own children, get things done around the house without having to watch all the neighborhood kids.

In regards to snacks... I tell my neighbor's what my kids can and can't have. I think it's a pretty open conversation these days with all of the allergies. Little girl neighbor allergic to nuts, little boy neighbor allergic to milk. So I just had both parents make me up a list of what they "can" have and I keep it taped inside my cupboard for when they come over, if I have it they can have it. If I don't then they need to bring their own snack.

Sorry for the book!
Good Luck!
J. in Macomb

This is a very hard one. We have a neighbor that also sends their young child over unsupervised and I always felt like I was watching / feeding him and he wasn't the best behaved. My husband helped with the situation. My husband talked to the man next door and said "my wife is very concerned about the safety of having your children over without one of you with them. He expained how my attention was often diverted because I was chasing the baby around (who could now walk) and for safety reasons it would be best if they joined us outside." After that conversation they continued to send their child over (we also have not boundries). Each time they did we told the child for safety reason they could not play in our yard until their mommy or daddy could come over to and that he would have to go home. After a few times of the child going home and telling the parents they go the hint and started coming outside or watching keeping him in because they did not want to go outside - she was always "busy" it seemed. We just kept saying "for safety its best".

Good Luck

in our neighborhood next door and the two houses across the street always get together to play the kids love playing with each other, the moms are usualy outside also, and we take turns as to whose house we play at that day. my daughter being the oldest(5)knows that she has to ask first before she can play, the answer usually is yes though. if one day you dont' want the neighbors playing maybe stay in your back yard(where they may be less likely to see you outside), or simply tell them they can't play today, everyone will understand and no ones feelings will be hurt. as far as snacks try to give yoru kids snacks before you go out to play than theat won't be an issue.

A note on the front door knob (maybe even a piture of a child with a red X over it). We had a note like this to let all the neighbor kids know that today our kids were busy and cannot play. Or the note would say to come back after 2 due to homework/chores. After a bit - the neighbor kids understoond that if that note was on the door - we did not answer the door/phone. We had plans.

If you are close friends with your neighbors, then maybe you could just be completely honest with them.If not then maybe dropping a more subtle hint would work. For example, you could be up front with them about how you feel uncomfortable about having their children over unsupervised. Especially from for safety reasons. You could say "we really enjoy having billy and bobby over to play, although we would prefer that you come over with them. If anything were to happen to one them we would feel just awful". This way they would know you still want to socialize with them, but also drops the hint that you are not the default babysitter. If this does not work and the kids keep popping by unatended, you could explain kindly to the children that you are having some private family time at the moment, and make arrangements to hang out at differernt time. As for the popsicles and junk food, explain that for health reasons your childrens pediatrician recomends that your children consume a certain amount of sugar and salt, and politely decline the snacks. You can say something like "Jack and Jill have had their daily limit of sugar and salt today, but thank you for your generosity". I have a two year old son, and I often have the problem of other well meaning adults offering him sugary items. I always say "no thanks, he has had enough for today". It is alright to stand your ground (and it it possible to do it in a kind and caring way). One tip, be sure to use "I" messages, such as I feel.... or we would prefer.... That way your neighbors will not feel like they are being attacked or insulted. Here is an idea, you could figure out exactly what you would like to say to your neighbors and then practice it by role playing the scene with your husband. You be you and have you husband be the neighbors and vice versa . You will be able to play out different scenarios and respond appropriately and tactfuly to differnt reactions your neighbors might have. Hope this is helpful. My best luck to you! :)

uggg we have the same problem! Now dont get me wrong, I love that my son has friends on our street that he plays with and loves to play with them, but I cant tell you how many times if he has a popsicle they all come scattering from nowhere and want one too. The all want snacks and have no problem coming over and asking for some. Or juice is the big one too. I was taught that this was rude to ask for food unless you were asked first so this really bugs the you know what out of me. Hell, I've even had the neighbor girl who's 5 come knocking on my door asking for strawberries!! I just told her for her to go home and ask her daddy for some (single dad). The come over to our backyard all the time uninvited. We just bought our son a motorized cadillac escalade and i've even caught some kids riding it when david wasn't outside. Totally unacceptable and the parents do nothing. I just address the kids really, and not the parents. I just told the kids how it is, and it's gotten better. I was even thinking of putting a sign on the door and just color one side red and the other green. Red means we cant play right now, and green means we can.

Good luck! I feel for ya.

You will just have to make it short and to the point with these kids. When they come to the door, and you don't want them say " I'm sorry_____ can't play today, and shut the door.


I undersand the problem. But I grew up when I'd go over unattended to a couple doors down to play with friends. And vice versa. I can't recall being in their house tho. then again I didn't take them inside our house a lot either. The idea was to be outside.
But if you prefer healthier snacks, maybe that's a way to deter the neighbor kids. Offer them healthy snacks. Either you'll have influenced their lives to healthier habits, or they'll drop you for someone who likes junk food.
But why not just tell the kids when they come over that you want some playtime with your kids now and then too and suggest a couple hours later? to come back. They need playtime with age appropriate people too. But they need you as well. There should be a good way to work this.
Good luck.

"Oh, hi! I'm sorry, today is not a good day, maybe you'll be able to play tomorrow."

"Oh, sorry! We're busy just now, maybe another time."

"Oh, it's time for little Neighbour to go home because it's time for us to eat."

Remember back in the old days when it was considered rude to hang around hoping someone else would invite you to a meal? Remember when people were INVITED to meals? There is no reason you cannot suddenly learn old-fashioned etiquette and start using it. No one else needs to know what you're doing, or give their permission for you to install the boundaries you want to have.

It is YOUR home, including your yard. Because you are there is no reason why others can take advantage of your food stores or company, if you don't want to. Remember that -- this will get a LOT worse after your kids get to school age, if you let it.

We have neighbor kids in and out of here all the time, as my daughter goes to a couple different houses too. What works for US is that I simply tell the children 'Today is not a play day, sorry' or 'time to go home now, we're having family time'. Kids that young do not get offended at being sent home, it's just how it is to them. My daughter hears the same phrases from the neighbors when they want her to go home too and I take no offense to it. If you allow children to just be over all the time, the parents will just keep sending them. Set boundries now to prevent this. Start sending them home!!!

Sadly, this is pretty common. We have a LOT of kids in our neighborhood (probably 35-40 within a two block radius), and it sometimes seems, especially with those that live close that the parents (and kids) just assume you want company all the time unless you tell them otherwise. The 5 year old is old enough to understand if you tell him that your kids "can't play" today or that you're having "family time". I had a problem for awhile with kids in the neighborhood helping themselves to playing with my kids' outside toys while they were either inside or not home. It took several times of politely telling them that it's "not polite" to play with other people's things or in their yard unless they've been invited. Sadly, since the parent isn't setting comfortable boundaries, you will have to be the one to set them for your yard. Her children are old enough to understand (though her 3 year old might protest), and the mom is sure to get the drift. I'd bet she even begins to call you now and then to *ask* about the kids playing together. I'm sure if she has questions, she will ask about better times etc. Meanwhile, you are helping her kids learn some important social rules about being politely social as a child. You are totally within your right to set healthy boundaries for your family. Either talk to her directly and as politely as possible - trying to avoid "blaming" her for your frustrations, explaining that while you like the kids, you feel that your home environment is a currently a little too "busy" and you would appreciate if the kids asked you first before just coming over to play. If you're not sure you're up to that diplomatic adventure, then just deal with the kids - it's likely to be just as effective, and believe me, it will be good boundary setting practice for when your kids get a few years older and you are constantly fielding friend requests. As for the snacks, this is often an issue for us as well. I refuse to feed the neighborhood. 6 kids in today's economy is hard enough, without paying to feed other's kids all the time as well. We have "snack time" at certian times throughout the day. (one in the am for the little kids and one in the afternoon around 4 for everybody) I may walk up to one of my children and quietly remind them that it is snack time, and that if they would like to take advantage of the snack offering they will have to come inside for a minute since it is impolite to eat in front of others if you won't be giving them some too. Either they come in or they don't, either way I don't feed the neighborhood (unless I'm feeling really nice, lol) :) If my kids go to someone else's house and get junk food regularly, I tell my kids that they don't need to be eating at other's homes all the time, and while it is very nice of the parent to offer, the junk food isn't the best for them either, and they should politely refuse (insert examples of *politely refusing* here) If my kids keep accepting, I simply give the mom a call every now and then and ask that the kids don't have a treat that day (make up non-offensive excuse such as impending dinner here)It's probably just a fact of life you are not going to be able to keep them totally away from the junk food (let's face it- if you're going to feed the neighborhood, junk food is cheapest) but if they are having healthy snacks at home, junk food now and then shouldn't be too much of a problem. Good luck!

Go over there and say something like "I'm really busy these days but I know the kids enjoy playing together. let's schedule a play date, how about wednesday from 1 - 3 o'clock." At the time you suggest the play date end, take the kids back or call the parent to let them know how much fun they had and to say you should schedule another play date soon.

YES, I have that problem. You just have to be firm but kind. Send them home when it is time to eat, whether it is snacks or not. Just tell the kids they have to go home because you do not have enough for them the same for the parents (with them you could add "I am so broke and can barely afford to feed my own..) laugh as you say it so they don't take it too seriously. Good luck, we just got our son a swingset and my neighbor is always dropping hints to come over w/ hers and I just play stupid. Her older one wants to come over EVERY time we have people over. It is fustrating.

Everytime your neighbor sends her kids over, just tell the 3 year old that thay will have to go home to play, that he come over when you tell him it's time to come and play. When his mom asks you about it, just tell her that lately it's been too much on you and you need to get things done and spend time alone with your kids. Tell her that you like the kids playing together, but that it would be easier to have it on a schedule so that both of you moms can get things done and can plan your days better. If gets upset, OH WELL! She'll get over and start respecting you more. As far as the snacks; ask her to please only allow your son 1 freezer pop, that you're concerned about the amount of sugar. You can also suggest that you both provide your son's with their own snacks.

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