So, can anyone give me the scoop on how to handle neighborhood friends and kids going to each other's house? DD (5 years old) made a friend several houses down from us, and anytime it's warm they want to go to each other's house. I am clueless as to the rules for this! Do I go over and introduce myself to her friend's parents? What about DD going to her friend's house when I just don't know their family. What about her friend coming here and allergies and stuff? How does this all work?!? lol. I am clueless and with the weather getting warm I am nervous about not knowing how to handle all this!
Yes, go over to the neighbors and introduce yourself. Trade phone numbers. Tell them it's fine if their daughter comes over uninvited or that you'd prefer that she call first or whatever you want. Ask if they have any guns in the house, and if so, how they're kept secure. Find out who's home most of the time. (My dh works from home and I work out of the home, and a few of our neighbors aren't very comfortable having their kids here if I'm not home; most are fine with just dh.)
In our neighborhood the "rules" are: It's OK for kids to arrive unannounced and ring the doorbell asking if other kids can play. It's also perfectly fine to say "no, we can't play right now" or "we can only play for an hour and then we have something to do." It's also expected that you'll send kids home at lunchtime and dinner time to eat at their own house, unless the parent has invited the child to eat with them. When the kids need to do chores, have relatives visiting, or just don't feel like playing, it's OK to send the neighbors home or to say no to an invite.
My kids are responsible for telling me where they're going -- if they change houses (happens a lot), they have to come home and tell me. If they're just down the street playing outside, they don't (they sort of roam in a pack in the summer). I don't expect other parents to keep track of my kids.
You should definately go over and exchange phone numbers. At that age, I usually call the parents before allowing DD to knock on the door. I call the parents if the kids come inside my house (and I expect the same from them). I call before giving a snack (and I expect the same).
I go meet the parents and make sure they are cool with having other kids in their house/having their kid in my house. If they are one or 2 doors down, they can walk back and forth themselves, as long as we know where they are all the time. DS knows he has to tell me if he's going to a friend's. If a friend comes over, I make sure they told their parents where they were going. And yes, I asked about allergies, but really only if I planned to feed them anything. I figure if they have a deadly allergy to anything, the parents will bring it up. He was 5 when I got comfortable with him walking 2 doors down and back.
My dd is 8 so a bit older but, I always have walked over with her to the neighbors house the first few times they wanted to play. I introduced myself and I encourage dd to ask the kid to play outside. That way, I stayed outside to watch them and usually the other parent would do the same, this gives you a chance to visit with them and get to know them a bit more. As, I got to know my neighbors and they got to know us. Then it became more casual and dd goes over to their house unannounced and their kids come over to my house all the time. We exchanged numbers when they started playing inside the others house. I don't ask first before I give a snack because I know them well now but, before if the kids asked to have something I would tell them they had to ask their parent first.
Yes, introduce yourself to the neighbors or if you can swing it organize a coffee to meet a bunch at once. Not only will it give you a chance to make some friends yourself but you will easily get a sense of the neighborhood dynamic.
Pardon me while I
I also introduce myself to new parents, find out if there are any dietary/allergy concerns, and if it's OK to feed their kids snacks if they're hungry. We exchange numbers, partly so the kids can call each other to find out if they can play. Then we always send kids home for meals unless the feeding family invites the other one, in which case we call and ask if it's ok. But kids in my neighborhood run around the neighborhood from yard to yard and house to house.
I'm the odd one out... I have never gone over to introduce myself to my kids' neighborhood friends, not made huge rules about when, how, how long etc etc. If I'm in the mood to deal with other kids, then they can come over. If I'm not, then I just tell them no. No one stays for meals, ever. I just say they have to leave.
I'm like wemoon. I grew up in a neighbourhood where the kids were always at someone else's house. We played until their (or my) parents kicked us out. It wasn't structured, and everyone got kool aid and a snack (usually not lunch, for that we'd go home). So I'm the same way as a parent (and so are my neighbours it seems). As long as I know where their friends live, they're allowed to play there without me introducing myself to the parents.
SAHstepM to C and N