We are really very blessed to live in a neighborhood with so many families in the same stages of life as we’re in right now. We’ve lived here for almost 12 years now and a lot of these families have been here about the same amount of time so our kids have all been friends for over a decade. It’s awesome. They come and go from each other’s houses all the time and it’s no big deal. This holds true for Tyler’s crew, Maia’s friends, and now Mason’s gang. I’m sure Zoey will get in on the action too now that she’s older. All the kids in that picture above? I have known them for years and years and I love them. But. BUT. Being the hangout house for more than one group of kids means that I’ve had to create some new rules to save my sanity.
1. They bring their own food and drinks. Seriously. And lest you think I’m just a cheapskate, let me give you a lesson. 5 teen boys can consume more food in one hour than the rest of our family consumes in a week. I do not provide snacks anymore unless it’s a sleepover. Sometimes the older kids chip in money and order a pizza for themselves. Or they walk down to the grocery store and buy snacks. What they don’t do? Raid my pantry.
2. There are no shoes in the house. Between my own kids and 3 dogs I spend enough time vacuuming and washing floors. So the rule is that shoes come off when they come in the front door. Period. If you come in my front door on any given weekend afternoon you’ll probably trip over 15 pairs of shoes.
3. There will be no name-calling, taunting, fighting, or bullying. None. I have a zero tolerance policy in this house. Now obviously this does not include the copious amounts of trash talking that go on when you have a group of teen boys in the house playing video games. Because that trash talk is intense, y’all. I ignore all that mess. But having 3 kids with 3 different sets of friends in the house at the same time sometimes leads to disharmony. I do not allow the girls to heckle the boys or vice versa. I have sent kids home before and I will do it again. And when their parents text or call wanting to know why their kid came home upset, I tell them the exact reason. And they never have an issue with it. This is my house and I reserve the right to set the standards of decorum.
4. No boys allowed in girls’ rooms and vice versa. The kids are allowed to have sleepovers but boys and girls cannot have a sleepover on the same night. This is a more recent rule. We’ve reached the age where some of Maia’s friends are coming over because Tyler’s friends are here. Sigh. Now, Tyler’s friends have zero use for a group of 12 year old girls but that doesn’t stop the girls from wanting to flirt. And I know it won’t be long before Mason’s friends are here because Maia’s friends are here too. So there are no girls in boys rooms and vice versa. And I do not allow Maia’s friends to sleepover if Tyler or Mason already have friends sleeping over. That’s just common sense. There will be no teen pregnancies on my watch, y’all.
5. They must clean up after themselves. Throw trash away, put dishes in the sink, pick up after yourself. So basically, don’t be a pig or a sloth. And the consequences for not following this rule are swift. I’ve had 5 teen boys raking my yard before because they left trash all over the driveway after playing basketball. They learned quickly that I’m not kidding.
6. No sports in the house. Yes I actually had to make this a rule. But after the second lamp got broken in the living room because of a football game I put my foot down. Last week I even banned air hockey in the living room after a picture frame was knocked off the wall by a particularly strong puck hit. I mean, really?
These rules are making it just a little bit easier to be the hangout house. I want my kids to have their friends over, I enjoy their friends and I like knowing what my kids are doing. But not at the expense of my sanity.