Question About Friends? Neighborhood Kids over at My House

Updated on May 15, 2010
L.I. asks from Lake in the Hills, IL
9 answers

I just need suggesstions on what to do, situation-- there are many kids around our house, some 2 houses down and some 2 blocks away. They are always welcome to come and play and the girls from my daughters class always want to come over--I will admit we have a fun yard and the more the merrier! But....It seems like they come over and 5 minutes later someone is hungry and thirsty and it goes on all day/night. I stopped them from walking right in and helping themselves because that is just wrong but now every 5 minutes they are asking my daughters or me for drinks and snacks--I dont know what to do because if my daughter is at a friends if she is thirsty I would like her to be offered a drink but I cant keep up with this especially if there are 6 kids over-I dont drink the tap water out here so I wouldnt make a kid (its disgusting water) I have a britta pitcher with a filter but do I buy paper cups and keep making more garbage--then bugs fly in their cups and I am sick of passing out water bottles because they arent drinking it all and its getting wasted-Is it rude to tell the kids,"my girls just ate, we arent having a snack now" or just keep passing out food? The hard thing is I became really good friends with one of the moms and I dont want her 3 kids to go home and tell her I wouldnt feed them but seriously, why didnt they eat before they came over? I am not trying to be mean or rude in any way I love that my kids play with all the kids but sometimes it is hard enough to buy food for my family let alone food for the block--Please give me your suggesstions on what you do/would do--I would greatly appreciate it!! Thanks so much

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answers from Chicago on

These moms need to get a clue that this is rude...they should come over and bring snacks for their children... All you moms out there that do this: RUDE!

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answers from Chicago on

Couple things not let the kids graze all day. It's great that you have the home that everyone wants to hang out, however, in the Summertime, you are going to resent serving everyone 24/7 - that includes clean-up and expense. I would stop the grazing immediately. If kids are hungry, they can go home and eat. It's pretty nice in our neighborhood because most of us serve lunch around the same time (between 12 - 1 pm), sometimes I serve a couple extra kids lunch (we call the parents first) and sometimes, my children are guests at other homes. This is NOT a daily or weekly occurrence, though. However, we do have a 3 o'clock/3:30pm snack and if I have extra kids at my home, they are included (it's amazing that I almost always have someone else here!) . I may serve either popcorn, crackers/peanut butter, pretzels or apple slices and dip...etc... and a drink - nothing big). My kids know that it is coming so it curtails the grazing (and the neighbor kids are used to it too.) This has been a staple in our family for about 5 years.

As far as children coming in and helping themselves???? Children are welcomed here but - I can't imagine anyone walking into my home, opening my fridge or pantry without consulting me - and I wouldn't have a problem nipping that in the bud. And, if my children are "helping themselves" at other homes - and I heard of them doing so... they would catch my wrath! That's just rude behavior. And...some of these moms, of my children's friends, are MY best friends! Putting some dixie cups in the bathroom and letting them help themselves to TAP WATER would resolve that. Or if you feel that badly about that - keep the Britta pitcher in the bathroom. Let the kids know to help themselves - make sure there is a garbage can nearby, in the bathroom. Do not worry that it is not the best water - children will stop asking you - they can go home for a better drink. Or....they can come back for a 3 o'clock snack and have lemonade and pretzels.

I do keep the very small water bottles on hand and my kids also take them in their lunches. If the kids are playing hard - I will offer them one but I don't get in the habit of this. You are right - whatever the size of the water bottle, kids generally don't finish it.

You are not being rude. You are being realistic and you are being used. Hang tough - you'll still be the favorite, hangout home!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

OMG, I am currently experiencing the same thing at my house w/ the neighbor kids. I notice all of the neighbor kids are running in and out of my house but I never once see that my kids are in others' houses. Everyone always seems to be hungry and thirsty and frankly, like was said previously, I have a hard enough time buying food for my own fmaily let alone being the food pantry for the entire block. My kids have never once been offered food at the neighbors' houses. It's so frustrating!!

One kid walked in my house today - after he and my kids were over in HIS backyard for about 30 minutes. He marches right up my stairs, opens my refridgerator and says, "I'm starving, can I have a snack?" How do I stop this without sounding like the mean parent on the block?

I mean, I don't mind the kids over here playing but I'm getting fed up w/ feeding everyone. No joke - at least 3 times in the last 6 weeks - the day that I go out shopping, the neighbor kids have eaten 1/2 our snacks by the end of that day!! Ridiculous!!!

If someone has been over at our house for several hours, I certainly don't mind offering a snack on occasion, but this business of cleaning out my snack drawer every weekend right after grocery shopping must stop!!



answers from Chicago on

You've gotten great responses already!

I had a couple of thoughts come to mind and I wanted to share them:

- if you know the primary kids that tend to come over, buy one large stack of Styrofoam or heavy paper cups and write their name on it in permanent marker. Keep them in an easy access stack in the garage.

- only offer water, so you never have to wash them. it's the best for hydration and will quench their thirst better than something with sugar in it, and no mom is going to get mad that you gave their kid water.

- buy a second Brita pitcher to keep in the garage. it can be filled with outside tap water by your children along with the neighbors and they can get their own water; you'll make them more self-sufficient and set the rules on beverages

- set the snack time rules with your family first (i.e. we have a snack at 3:30 when you get home from school). if it's snack time for you, then you can offer it to anyone else who has arranged to come play at your house.

- if you're having a snack, and someone rings the bell that didn't call first - don't answer it until your kids are done.

- anyone asks for food outside of your snack time, politely say "i'm getting ready to make dinner/lunch now and I'm not getting snacks out."

After setting your home up to be self-serve water and cup friendly and laying down the ground rules with your children, the neighbors will very quickly catch on.

It's wonderful that your daughters have a lot of children to play with!

Best wishes,



answers from Chicago on

I always made a thermos jug of a drink and kept it outside with their cups. I told the kids they could only come in if they had to go to the bathroom since they were constantly running in and out for food.

I also would not cater to the snack or food requests. You can say "Sorry, it's not snack time here" or "we just ate lunch, if you need lunch you can go home and come back" or whatever. If you really feel like you have to offer something, popcorn is pretty cheap. You can get a box of 3 bags on sale at Jewel for $1 or buy one get one free.

The moms in the neighborhood might be clueless that their kids are doing this. If you are good friends with one of them, you might ask "did you know Suzy always asks for food here? I don't want to always say no, but we don't eat all day"...something like that. If you're up to it, you could bring up the idea of the mom sending over snacks every once in awhile "I don't mind them coming over here all the time, but....".

I have lots of boys hanging out here, but I always know they are coming and talk to my kids about it beforehand. I tell them what they can eat and drink. If they want something special I know ahead of time and we work something out.



answers from Chicago on

The kids in our neighborhood rotate playing at houses, so this usually isn't a problem. I'll have a pitcher of koolaid or plain water out in the garage with some plastic cups for the kids if they get thirsty. When it's gone, it's gone. I don't let my kids graze all day either. Sometimes I'll send the other kids home if I don't have enough snacks for everyone or I'll bring something out like pretzels, goldfish, watermelon chunks or grapes. Again, when it's gone, it's gone. All the other moms are like that too - we all take turns.

I have to say that I have never had a kid come into my house and help themselves. The kids don't even ask if they can use the bathroom - they'll run home! And it's not like I wouldn't let them either, it's just they know when they run home, they can get a snack or that drink of water and come back out.

Set some rules and stick to them. You're not the neighborhood food pantry or public water works. You're not being rude by setting rule either. You're being a good parent.



answers from Chicago on

Do you remember getting snacks and drinks as a kid when you played outdoors? I don't! We'd play for hours, then eventually wander back to our own homes and eat/drink there.

I sympathize with your plight! Our grocery budget is so tight as it is, I can't imagine adding another 4-5 kids' snacks to the list each week. I am sure they could whip through a 2# box of Ritz, a half dozen apples or a big batch of cookies instantly!

If the kids are over for an arranged play-date, then I think snacks are probably expected, but not if they just come on over to play in your backyard and there are a yard full of kids! I'd say, "Our dinner is in an hour, guys. You can eat when you go home."

For an arranged play-date, I usually cut up some fruit, add crackers, raisins, and like a cookie or two.

Perhaps encourage kids to bring their own water bottles? My kids carry their own reusable water bottle in their backpack to/from school each day. I have one guy with allergies, so whenever he goes on a playdate, he carries his own snacks/lunch and drink. My daughter does get fed on playdates, but it is usually something simple like a piece of fruit or some animal crackers. Sometimes I send along something for her to share with the host, like a loaf of banana bread.

Every now and then I think it is great to share snacks with the whole neighborhood, but I know we couldn't do that regularly on our food budget.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I remember going through this with my sons. It was more about looking at gigantic plates of uneaten dinners go in the garbage than anything. I would cringe. Well, I started proportioning things and told them exactly why. And I got small paper cups and told them they could have more, that we'd start out with the drink, or pop or Koolaide or juice or whatever and they could get more if they finished that. You are not mean or rude, you just aren't rich We all work hard for our money and you sound like a very kind person.
There are very cheap drinks at stores like Aldi's or Walmart, but I still stick to the koolade thing. One of my sons was passing out gatorades half the time, and those would lay half filled and we couldn't drink those because we didn't know whose they were. So we went back to the koolade. Tap water might be yukky, so if you purchase bottled water, again you could split it up. I also remember me feeding one child all the time and my son would go to that house and they would eat right in front of him. Now that's rude. They could have just asked him to leave. You sound very kind so you aren't going to completely stop treating them, but there also isn't any reason why you can't once in awhile say that you are out of groceries or something and would they mind bringing something from home. Enjoy your children they grow up way too fast.



answers from Chicago on

Unless you have specifically invited kids over for a play-date, then I would not feel responsible for feeding them or giving them drinks. If they are that hungry/thirsty, then can walk home and get something. I don't think other parents would expect you to supply all of these things for their kids. When we leave the house, I make sure our kids have drinks and snacks packed and ready to go. We never expect others to have stuff for us. It's nice if it's offered, but who knows if what other people offer is what I want my kids to have anyway... If these kids ask for drinks/snacks, I would tell them that you aren't having snack time right now and if they need something they should go ask their moms/dads...

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