In picturing your parenting life, you may have known that you wanted to have your house full of your kids and their friends. Now that parenting has become a reality, you might be wondering how to become the hangout house for your kids’ friends.
Today I will be providing some of my tips and tricks for becoming the place where kids want to land.
Note: This post is sponsored by Ruggable. All experiences and opinions are my own.
I entered into parenting always picturing my kids and their friends being in my home. Wanting to provide a refuge and an inviting, fun environment was the vision.
Then, I became a mom. Suddenly it became apparent that having that kind of home was going to require work. It would not make my life easier, but it would make life more full – for my kids, for their friends and for me.
It will be busy. The noise level will be higher. There will be more messes to clean and more food to make. The rewards are worth it.
The beauty comes in the relationships developed. You can become another mom or dad for other kids that might need that in their lives. Your home can become a place that makes a huge difference in the lives of others.
Thank you for your heart to want to make your house the hangout house for your kids’ friends. You will make an impact on the next generation by making this a priority.
How to Become the Hangout House for your Kids’ Friends
Invite, Invite, Invite
The first tip is to invite. I have talked to some moms that feel like there has been a death of the playdate. People are busy. There are more two parent working homes these days. Many don’t want more people – especially children – in their home.
That doesn’t mean kids don’t crave to be invited into homes for playdates. Invite.
Begin welcoming children into your home when they are young. When kids grow up in your home there is a comfort there. The time you invest when they are smaller will reap rewards when they are older.
Be Present but Not Overbearing
Kids of all ages – from baby to teen – want adults in their lives. I know it feels like teenagers just want space and freedom from adults. Having worked for years with youth, I can tell you that even teens crave positive adult relationships.
When your children and their friends are small, you will be heavily involved when they are in home. There will be bottoms and mouths to wipe, playdoh to take out and put away, books to read, disagreements to referee and activities to plan.
As kids get older, there will be less physical work involved, but it doesn’t mean your job is done and that you should be absent.
You want to be there. Be engaged but not overbearing. Greet the kids as they arrive. Provide for their needs. Be aware of their countenance and respond accordingly.
Listen and Ask Questions
The top tip concerning how to become the hangout house for your kids’ friends is to build relationships. As mentioned, kids crave adult role models and guides.
Learn to ask engaging questions. Avoid yes or no questions. Listen. Listen. Listen.
My own mom was a great example of this. She became a mom to my friends because she genuinely cared. I’ve seen my sister become the hangout home because of her own care and concern for my niece’s friends.
Be genuine in building that relationship, showing empathy, listening and offering advice when asked or when appropriate. Don’t gossip. Keeping what they tell you confidential (unless someone is in danger) will be important for building trust.
Create Spaces that Works for Inviting People In
It becomes easier to invite people into your home if you have a space that works. Some of you are probably blessed with a kid dump space – like a basement or big bonus room. Some houses have ping pong or pool tables. Other houses have a pool. These are all a draw, but they are not necessary.
Having a great game closet can be a draw too. Know your children and their interests. You might become the house where people can craft, bake, listen to music, play sports, play video games or watch movies. Each kid will bring a different heartbeat.
Wealth is not a requirement to becoming the hangout house for kids.
We are blessed to live on a lake, which definitely contributes to the summer traffic at our home.
However, you don’t need such spaces to make your house the hangout house. You need welcoming arms and a willingness to have some space work for kids and teens to land.
We do live on a lake, but we live in a 2000 square foot home with kids sharing rooms and no real bonus space. In the winter we still invite kids in because it is a priority. The point is that you don’t need a huge house or lots of amenities to make it work. You just need a willing heart.
The goal is to make the space inviting and easy. When we have kids over and they are not outside, they land in our living room. It’s central to our home and sees a lot of traffic. From our own children and their friends to our large extended family to the youth group kids from our church, this space gets used.
Our floor is bullet proof, which really helps. The couch is huge, which means there is room for everyone. There is a ginormous bean bag that can house a few kids. It’s comfortable.
My recent discovery of rugs at Ruggable make this space work even better for us because their rugs are washable. This is perfect for high traffic spaces.
When you can create a space you don’t need to worry about, it makes you more willing to invite others in because the worry that things will be destroyed by a bunch of kids goes away.
My Journey of Finding the Right Rug
Finding the right rug for this space has been quite the journey. Before I got my degree in education, I was studying interior design. Being a visual person, design is important to me. Function is also important.
With my rugs, I felt like I kept getting the designs right, but the function wasn’t there. When you want to be that home that invites people in, you need to find a rug that can last and be maintainable through the traffic.
My first rug was navy blue. It was a rug purchased through a middle end store, and it wasn’t inexpensive.
However, it drove me crazy. A solid, dark-colored rug shows everything. To maintain any kind of appearance of cleanliness it needed to be vacuumed daily. This type of maintenance doesn’t appeal to a busy mom. No thank you.
This rug also had white threads that appeared, so even if it was vacuumed, it never looked clean.
The next rug I purchased from a reputable store. It was a soft, plush and beautiful. However, it was not practical. I had not planned well.
This rug cannot be cleaned. Well, this heavy and large 8×10 rug could probably be cleaned if wanted to take it out to a specialty store and pay way too much money.
It cannot be vacuumed. When we recently had a carpet cleaner come, we asked him to clean it. He informed us that this rug fabric would hold 4 times the amount of water. It could potentially ruin our floors to try and wash it.
We did not have this rug long, and just look at the wear patterns (Picture above – Those aren’t shadows. I moved the couch back, and you can see the lines of wear.). It’s disgusting. The solution wasn’t easy. We are a shoes off family, and yet our high traffic yield means a rug that quickly gets ruined.
I am so happy to find the solution in Ruggable. These rugs are machine washable. That’s right! My 8’x10′ rug can fit in my washing machine. What?! No joke! Spills? Wash it. Dirty? Wash it. Oh my word – this is the solution I need.
The Ruggable rugs come with an easy-to-clean rug pad that features a non-slip back. This is made of the same latex-free material used in yoga mats.
With a love of design, I was thrilled to also find so many different rug styles available at Ruggable. No matter what your design aesthetic – modern, contemporary, traditional, abstract – I am convinced you will find a rug that will fit your home.
My friend recently got a Ruggable rug, and she sent me a picture of her dog hanging out on it.
I am so thankful to finally find a rug that combines beauty with the functionality so that the space becomes viable for the amount of kids I want in my home.
Great news for me readers too! If you check our Ruggable, find your perfect design and make your purchase, I get to offer a unique discount code so you can enjoy 15% off your order. Here is the magic code to make it happen: FUNJODI15
Have Foods and Drinks Available
Another way to a child’s heart is through their stomachs. Providing food for people and caring for the physical needs first often opens the door to relationships.
Homemade cookies are great. Healthy fruits or vegetables served with hummus also does the trick. Popcorn is so easy, inexpensive and enjoyed by most. I try to find a balance of having healthy snacks and special treats.
Making things from scratch shows a lot of love but don’t let that be a barrier. Heading to the grocery store for simple snack solutions will also satisfy.
Feeding time is a great time to engage kids in conversation.
Be Laid Back but Keep Your Rules
Kids need structure and rules. Don’t try and be the cool parent by throwing out your standards. Maintain a house that is full of character – both in how you treat others and the kind of integrity displayed in the activities chosen.
You will gain more respect as you keep a firm and loving hand on what is allowed in your home. Don’t be intimidated or fear embarrassing your kids. You can be the cool mom without compromising your values. Just be laid back about the things that don’t matter and unyielding in that things that do.
How to Become the Hangout House for your Kids’ Friends
You can become that hangout home when you invest in creating the relationships, the space and the atmosphere where kids want to land.
Children need these kind of spaces and what a blessing to be able to be an adult that can make a big difference in their lives.