Having Friends Over?

Updated on September 28, 2010
L.M. asks from Seattle, WA
20 answers

So basically my question is this: Will we ever get to a point where I feel comfortable having my children's friends over?
A little background: I am a SAHM to five children. My SO and I met just over 4 years ago. I already had a son (now6) he had three girls (now 5,8,9), together we had one girl (now 3). Well, now four of the five are in elementary school and have lots of friends. I'm wondering how many other families just don't really do the friend thing. Part of my problem is our house is never company ready, as you can imagine having five young ones running around all the time, everything gets dirty just as I cleaned it up, very frustrating but I'm learning. My SO's family likes to have nice things but does not care if the house is dirty/or pretty messy. My parents and family on the other hand are a bit more 'clean'. My house as a kid growing up was pretty cluttered/small/ old but cleaned by my mom. My home now (low income housing) with my children and SO doesn't feel like it could ever be 'company ready'. I would feel embarrased to have my child's friend's parent over. Our home is very cluttered and I just feel like I can't invite people over. And No, my SO does not help with the housework (also very frustrating).
So, I feel bad that I don't encourage my children to have friends come over. But I'm also just not very outgoing and don't feel that I would relate to many of the other moms. Are there any other moms that relate to what I'm saying? I was just thinking about this cause my son asked me today if his friend could come over in two weeks to play with the puppets they just made in class. I felt very bad when I said no.
Update: I have been trying to find more routine to my day, as I have been looking at Flylady for months (I'm just always exhausted). I do try to have the kids help. And I do just have a lot of anxiety about meeting new people and what there perceptions are on a clean home. I also don't really trust my kids going over to other people's houses. I'm really wanting to know how other people deal with this and feeling bad that there children won't have friends outside of school.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the responses. I do feel a little better, not ready to have their friends over but I do see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. I know as they get older it will be slightly easier. Thanks all!!

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answers from Austin on

My dad's rule when we were growing up was if we wanted to invite a friend, we had to get the house company ready... This was when we were living in a single-wide trailer with 6 kids and 2 adults... I have learned that it is a LOT harder to keep a small place with lots of people clean than it is a big place... the littlest bit of clutter can make the house look trashed!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I understand to an extent. When my kids have friends over - which seems to be constant at times - I do a quick pick up. Living room, bathroom, kitchen. The kids rooms I don't bother with because they are just going to get messy anyway and my room gets the door shut. Sometimes I don't want the extra kids around but I decided I wanted the kids at my house so I knew what was going on and I get to know the kids. That is what makes it worth having kids over for me.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

You have to stop worrying what other people will think. Your kids need to be able to have people over. I really think you should tell your son you changed your mind. They want to play with puppets they made!!! That's really adorable, and you need to support that.

When the parents drop their kids off they will probably chat briefly, and then leave. You should be able to do a few minutes of chit chat. You won't have to become their best friend.

You really need to push yourself to do this, not only for your son, but to expand your own world. It's time to become comfortable talking to other people. If you don't know what to say, ASK QUESTIONS.

Please let your son have his friend over. Who cares if your house is messy -- you have a lot of people in small quarters, so you have a good excuse. Kids who grow up unable to bring friends over are inevitably hurt by it.

Just quickly pick up the main room before someone shows up. Stuff things in a bedroom, or something.

ps -- when my kids were little, a friend of mind told me that the first time she ever came over to my house she told her husband afterward: "She's really nice, but she's a disaster," referring to the toys and stuff that was strewn all over the place. It's kind of funny looking back on that, because my house doesn't look like that at all now, but then I don't have little kids any more. Anyway, that woman became my best friend, so I guess she didn't mind my mess that much.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

In our home, if you want a friend to come over and the house is a mess or dirty, everybody has to help clean..

So daughter would clean her room, clean the bathroom or the kitchen. I always closed our bedroom door and told that room was off limits.. Worked great..

Sounds like you have 3 great maids.. I mean daughters to help you. Just let them know you would LOVE for their friends to come over, but they have to help clean the house so that it is presentable..

Do not worry about visiting with the moms. They will more than likely just drop them off and you let them know how many hours till their child needs to be picked up.
I used to also give them my phone numbers and get their phone numbers in case of emergency.. Usually they had not even thought of this..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

One word: Flylady. www.Flylady.com is a site devoted to helping people learn to get and keep their homes reasonably clean (so company can come) and their family life in reasonable order by doing a little at a time. I know the site drives some people crazy (and I can see why), but their basic principles are worth trying.

You don't have to have an expensive or magazine-cover-neat home to be able to have your children's friends over. You just need to develop a system so that people will be comfortable (and you will be, too). It can be done.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Joplin on

It sounds like less an issue with having company and more with your anxiety over the house, hunny you need to find FlyLady! She has helped me develope good house keeping habits, just google her...also you have a gaggle of kiddo's, start delegating responsibilities. FlyLady is AWESOME, she asks "Are you living in CHAOS?" (C) -Can't ( H)-Have (A)-Anyone (O)-Over ( S)-Syndrome....she tells you that you cannot clean CLUTTER...so toss it = ) She has fun things like 27 fling boogies = ) Personally I am ok with a bit of mess if it means that I am spending time with my kiddos, and kids are the last people that care about cleanliness, that is why it is up to us to instill good habits in them and enlist them to help...you Can do it = ) It is all about "Baby steps" check out FlyLady, it is always positive, and all her helpful hints are FREE!!!! = ) Before you know it, you will be "FLY-ing" and FLY means Finally Loving Yourself...no more guilt! = )

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answers from Austin on

If you can get one or two rooms cleaned up, that could be enough for a friend to come over. I usually get the downstairs clean, but not all the upstairs. Then if my son asks if his friends can go up to his room, I say no if he didn't clean it up. I'm more motivated to clean if I know we're going to be having people visit often. I keep cleaning while they're there because it gives me an excuse to listen in and make sure the kids are behaving. I find other families that have chaos, and then I don't worry because I know my house isn't any worse than theirs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Hi Momof5, of course you have your hands full with 5 kids under the age of 10. Kids do need to have interaction with friends outside of school, it helps them to bond more. Could you try to set up play dates at a park, so you don't have the anxiety of getting your house ready for guests. This might be a good place to start, Then if your children want to have friends over, tell them they need to help get the house in order and kept in order. I clean before my son has friends come over so I know what your feeling. I always sweep the front porch too, it is so silly, as if the parents are really going to notice :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm a cleaning freak, in my culture this is the first thing you do in the morning, you are getting the house ready for visitors because you never know who will show up and if someone shows on the door it is very unpolite not to invite him/her in for a tea or coffee. So, I grow up in that culture and I still have the habit to clean the house every day. It is a habit and it is hard to overcome even I know that nobody will show up uninvited here. Keeping the house clean is easier for me as I have only one kid. One of my best friend is just oposite. Her house is a complete mess all the time. She has 4 kids and she doesn't even care about cleaning as she is always tired. She just do some basic from time to time and that its. And when I go there I just don't care, her mess is her mess, and as long it is not in my house, I just don't care. My son loves going there because no body makes him clean or tidy up in the end of the play-date. She feeds them junky snacks but this is fine with me from time to time. The rule we have is very clear, our house - our rules, someone else's house - theirs rules and he is fine with that too. It took a while until my friend felt comfortable with me being the cleaning freak but it worked well. Now I have a wonderful friend and I have a wonderful relationship with her. In short, the parents probably won't care how your house look but having your kid's friends over will let you know who they are hanging with and this is important. I hope I was helpful. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My house isn't always the tidiest, and often I feel uncomfortable around other moms. However, if we all wait until we have Martha Stewart homes, we will NEVER have someone over.

Maybe you could join a moms support group or MOPs or something to get you out of your shell and force yourself to go and force yourself to relate with other moms. Get out on hikes - do activities with other moms. Get the kids to have a "cleaning party" with you so they can have friends over.

It's time to get creative, and accept yourself for who you are, warts and all. That's why I like being 50 better than I liked being younger. The older I get the more I can accept myself for who I am "warts and all". I bet there are a LOT of moms struggling just as you are.

I used to be TERRIBLY self-conscious when I was a child. When I got older it started to fade. Now I thank God, because of where I am. But a lot of it was because I forced myself into social situations in spite of my feelings. I saw my feelings as betrayers, because they didn't speak the truth to me very often.

One tip - when you meet someone - instead of focusing on how self-conscious you are, focus on THEM - ask questions, focus on what they are saying. it REALLY helps to get the focus off of how you feel and before you know it, you won't feel so bad, and will have made a friend in the process. I LOVED the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" - that book made a huge difference in my life when I was a teenager.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I know you have a LOT of anxiety over this, but please try to keep in mind that most of the other moms have the same clutter and cleaning issues too. As for their friends, they are coming to see your kids and hang out and most likely could care less about the state of your house. Try to give yourself a little extra credit...you're busting your butt to raise five small kids and trying to find a balance between your home and your family time.

I can honestly say that an emaculate home just seems fake to me and like the family doesn't really get to "live" there. My home is neither filthy nor spotless and I always use the phrase "good enough for who its for". I'm a SAHM also and clean various things daily, but I also have two little ones (5 yrs and a 7 month old) and if my house isn't spotless when a parent comes to collect their child, they just need to get over it. AND be grateful that I had their child over, allowing them a short break. And to be further honest, I've been at the doorstep of many of my older son's friends and, you guessed it....not spotless.

So try to ease up on yourself and invite a friend over from time to time. Your kids will benefit and you might just find a good friend in the parent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

There are some very good long-term benefits that come with having your kids' friends over. It may not be your cup of tea, but as your kids enter their tween and teen years, you will REALLY want to know what type of kids they are hanging out with. What better way to get to know them then by having them at your home?

I grew up in a very messy home, and we NEVER had guests other than 2 of my aunts and cousins, and the few neighbor kids we snuck in while my parents were at work. My parents had NO CLUE who we were hanging out with and never took the time to get to know our friends' parents. There were some pretty bad news kids and parents, and my mom and dad REALLY should have made the effort to get to know them. Not so that they could socialize, but so that they could know who we were spending so much time with. (My older brother and I were just filling my mom in on the details of some activities we took part in with our "bad" friends--she was SHOCKED and felt pretty guilty for being so blind to it.)

When I was in high school my best friends' parents ALWAYS hosted their kids' friends. Yep, we were annoying, I'm sure, but they knew exactly what their kids were doing, who they were with, and we NEVER did anything questionable in their care.

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answers from Seattle on

I have extra kids many days a week, and I do worry about having the living room and kitchen picked up when the mom comes to get her kids, because that's what she sees. Occasionally she'll ask to use the bathroom, too, before their drive home, and for me the house can be messy, but if the bathroom is dirty, that's SO embarrassing!!

But really, she is concerned that I was watching her kids and that they are having a good time - just like I am when my kids are at someone else's. I don't care what another woman's house looks like, and if it's immaculate I automatically assume that it's not normally like that (isn't that rude of me?!?).

Your kids are all old enough to help you with housecleaning. My 2 year old is responsible for putting her clothes in her laundry basket and books on her bookshelf. She is so proud when she gets them all picked up and receives praise from me! And you can have your older ones doing extra chores for allowance. You are doing them a favor by teaching how to keep house and have some responsibility and you get the favor of help with chores. Extra clean up should be expected if they want the privilege of having friends over.

Blessings on overcoming your shyness!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I used to feel like I had to have my house spotless whenever we were having anyone over, kids or adults. It stressed me out and made me crazy. My husband finally told me that we were not going to have people over if I was going to be that way. I lOVE having friends over, my house is rarely spotless. I try to focus on the rooms I know we'll be in ~ kitchen, livingroom, & bathroom. My kids friends do not care if our house is messy or not. IMO there is a difference between messy/cluttery and DIRTY. Dishes all over the house for weeks, garbage, just plain unhealthy stuff is not ok, dirt and a little doggie hair on the floors, toys strewn everywhere, dishes in sink? that's just a lived in home.



answers from Erie on

I don't enjoy hosting playdates, and i don't trust other people with my elem aged kids. so yeah i get you . i have found though that i expect other peoples houses to look like something out of better homes and gardens and most of the time there is dust bunnies in the corner and clean laundry piled about, and dirty dishes in the living room and general clutter that i wouldhave shoved in a closet if it were me and i had at least 2 minutes warning.
Personally, i do try to have those playdate though, not all the time, i can only handle one a month, but i try because i don't want my kids to feel ashamed of their home.
I'm sure you'll get tons of suggestions but try meeting at the park or at the mcd play area or something so the kids can be together just not at your house.

can you clarify how they made puppies in class, i thought you meant real dogs at first, paper ones? Duh-o PUPPETS, i have doggies on the brain sorry.



answers from Dallas on

Please let your son have playdates at your house, it's much better to have them right there safe with you where you know exactly what they're doing; children don't look at that stuff, they're just happy to be together playing, and I think this is such an important part of growing up.
Also, don't think other families got the perfect clean house, if you have children, there is going to be some kind of mess. My house gets super messy sometimes and I don't have enough time to keep it up, however if children are over for playdates I make sure the playroom and living room are clean and safe to play in. you don't need to clean the whole house,
have a great day!



answers from New York on

Do you have a yard? I do alot of playdates in the summer. First, because my family's schedule fuller and I want the kids to unwind, have plenty of time to do homework, etc. If you have a yard, you can do what I do in the summer. You inform them that since it's a nice day, they pay outside. Give them plenty to do, jump ropes, hula hoops, balls (volleyball,soccer, kickball, ball to play catch with), chalk, water guns/balloons, ceramic pieces to paint, bubbles, scooters, bikes, frisbee, horseshoes....there's sooo much! You can even let them sit out and eat a snack and talk. Honestly, by age 5, none of the parents stayed anymore (it seems they liked their "free" time). DO you live near a park? You can invite a few kids to go with you to the park if you don't have a yard. The second reason why I only invite them over in the summer is because it always seemed to happen that the child who came over/was dropped off by parent, would be sick (coughing like crazy, running a fever, etc.) and we would catch it. I would politely "let the parent know" lil suzie was sick and the answers I got were, "I know, but she's getting better." or " Oh, Really?" (come on now) or "She had her antibiotic before she came." WHAT????? Anyway, try the outdoors playdate and in hte meantime, tell your SO that he needs to pitch in so that when kids come over, your kids feel good about having friends over. I've been there(doing everything by myself) & I know it hard....it can be done...you can do it...have confidence!! Oh and also, keep the playdates to a max of 3 hrs.


answers from Eugene on

Forget how the house is. If you have a playroom then they can play there.

Just don't let more than two kids visit at once. Let the ones who have friends over be unbothered by the siblings unless they all agree to play together.
Lots of other mothers have trouble relating. If you find one who makes friends and conversation easily latch on to her. You can build new skills that make you less tired like have women friends.



answers from Portland on

Let it go. My house isn't ever "company" ready either. If you don't let go, you are keeping yourself as well as your children from having relationships with people outside the family.
You would be amazed at how many Moms don't have perfect homes. I spent one day last year helping a friend "clean up" her house for a playdate. This consisted of: cleaning up the breakfast dishes from in front of the tv, picking up laundry both clean and dirty from the living room and hallway, and putting the toys in the buckets so that we could vacuume. What did the house look like after the playdate? Like it did before I help clean up for the playdate, minus the laundry.
In my experience we are much harder on ourselves than others are. Make sure your home isn't toxic, let your son have his friend over. Sounds to me like he thinks his friend would be comfortable in your home. So try it. What have you got to lose?



answers from Anchorage on

Flylady!! Like the other ladies said. And you'de be suprised how the routines and getting rid of clutter makes you feel a little less tired. Good luck!!

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