What must my children’s friends think of me?!

Take a moment to think back to your childhood…
Did some of your friend’s parents stick firmly in your mind for being a little unusual? Or maybe boring? Or control freaks? Or perhaps they were wanna be comedians and thought they were ‘cool’ just like you? Perhaps they were too serious, or scary? Drunk or crazy? Or maybe they were so cool you actually wanted to live at their house?!

Well, I reckon that most of the children that come round to our house must think, ‘She’s that crazy Mama!’.

Today, a 5 year old walked into my lounge and actually stopped in her tracks, took a deep breath in and said, ‘Woah!’… there were boxes and bears everywhere, a toy rowing boat (filled with bears), a little slide, balloons… (the carpet was barely visible).

And then she walked into my laundry/art room and said, ‘Wow! This is cool, but it sure is messy!’….

I said, ‘Yep, that’s what I love about it! Feel free to paint and create, just mind you don’t mess up the clean washing x’.

And then I left her and my 5 year old daughter to paint, whilst dressed-up like princesses (I did ask them to wear an apron over their pretty dresses).

My 8 year old was tucked up under a blanket with her friend (the big brother of the 5 year old that liked my ‘cool, messy’ laundry/art room) reading and playing on the iPad.

Meanwhile, my friend and I busied ourselves in entertaining toddler Alice, whilst cooking up savouries, sausage rolls, serving ice-blocks, biscuits and juice. We also had a beer each. I mean, come on?! It can’t be all give, give, give, without a teeny bit of take – especially on a Friday!

I do have moments of thinking, ‘What must these children think of me?’.

If they want to play with water… I get it out.

They want to ride around the house on trikes and bikes… I open up the garage and let them at the wheel toys.

Then they come in and want to make bracelets… I get out the beads.

Now and again I cast my eye over the mess. It sprawls out like a smog, covering every surface. I think, ‘I really ought to round up these children to help me clean up one thing before we career into the next….’ but, no, I carry on, thinking, ‘It’s only for a few hours after all, and they haven’t seen their friends in ages, let them have fun… we can clean up later…’

But who cleans up? Do I remind my children to help? Do I lay down the law and say, ‘No more play dates unless you clean up afterwards!’. Well… I try, I really do – and I get a little bit of help, but I really need to work on improving this area of the aftermath of a play-date, as usually I’m scurrying around like a marathon runner; scooping to pick up dress-up clothes, teddy bears, paint trays, empty water bowls, clean brushes, vacuum up popcorn, clear away plates… I really do need to adjust the balance a little! Right, I am crazy (or will be soon!).

Do I enjoy it? Yes, but not too often (Twice a week is my limit for play-dates in my home!).

I do sigh with relief when we arrange a meet up at a local park or the beach (but still take a ton of food with me… and occasionally some beach toys, a ball, frisbee, towel, togs… just in case… and now and again some bubbles, a kite…).

My favourite kind of play is impromptu – when we head to the beach or park and bump into friends. I suppose I really should try to make the planned play-dates feel a little more like an impromptu one and go with the flow… my problem is I tend to swim in a white water rapid kind of flow, rather than a gentle, bubbling brook!

What are play-dates like at your house? Am I crazy? What would you think of me if you were a little person at my house? Do I say ‘Yes’ too easily?!