Playdates used to be something that would exhaust me to no end when my kids were little. I would try to enjoy them, prepare myself mentally for the chaos, but honestly, I would prefer less crazy afternoons alone with my kids — reading, playing in the sandbox, or going to the playground.
Of course, I still participated, and more often than not, I would be glad we hosted or attended, but it wasn’t something I offered up on a regular basis. I just didn’t have it in me and needed a few weeks to recover after each one.
When you have three little kids at home, they have each other to play with, plus they can fuck up your house pretty damn fast — in between feeding them and keeping them alive and all. Add a few more kids into the mix, and I wouldn’t even know my name by the time everyone left our house, or I would have to bribe my kids to get in the car so we could leave and get home before someone (me) had a breakdown.
But since they have reached the teen and tween stages, I love having their friends over. I encourage it. Weekends? School vacations? Invite ’em over already. Maybe I am having too much fun and am trying to relive my teenage years, but I don’t care. I could host these wonderful kids all day, and our door is always open. And only part of it is because I feel guilty for not doing it more when they were younger. Here are the reasons I love having the house where all the kids hang out:
They fend for themselves.
They entertain each other with little supervision. I just make sure we have a shit-ton of food and tell them to come and get it when they are hungry. I don’t care if they eat it all, and the music thumping through my house makes me feel like I am at a rave. They are busy, they are happy, they call me Mama Smith, and I kind of love it. That tells me they are comfortable here. And when I make muffins or cookies and they are gone in 20 minutes, it makes me feel like a badass.
I get to watch them develop strong friendships.
It is amazing to see my kids developing bonds that remind me of when I started making true connections with my peers — strong friendships I still have today. It is so important at this age to feel like you have your tribe. Being a teenager is tough stuff, and they need each other to get through it.
Teenagers are hilarious.
Yes, they can be moody, but you can joke with them, talk politics with them, and you can tease them and they give it right back to you. They keep me young and hip, at least according to me (I am currently banned from using the word “lit”).
I feel like I am involved in their lives.
Parents are there for their kids no matter what, and during the teen years, it becomes harder for us to know what is going on in our kids’ lives. Their main priority is to be with their friends, and they start to pull away from their family. I remember feeling the same way when I was a teenager; my friends were my life. I want them (and their friends) to feel they can always hang out here. I like knowing what is going on. I don’t necessarily “hang” with them, but I am near them and so I feel somewhat involved. Yeah, sometimes I eavesdrop, but it is my house and I can do what I want. Besides, it is all out of love, and the other parents appreciate that I do it.
So, until my kids are grown and gone (hold me), I will keep my door open, there will always be something baking in the oven, and I will embrace the latest music thumping through my house — because all will be quiet before I know it. I just hope when all my kids’ friends fly the coop and leave this place behind, they will come back to see me when they are in town, still call me Mama Smith, and devour a plate of cookies in 20 minutes. Because damn, I am really going to miss this.