I failed miserably at creating a hangout in the early years of parenting because I felt a strange combination of responsibility for visiting children and resentment toward the mess they were making. I thought they should actually survive their stay with us, then leave the house reasonably intact. My husband also had expectations. He wanted sleepovers to happen in bedrooms. Finding boys sprawled all over the living room wrecked his morning, for some reason.
I get along better with older kids. My sons and their friends are all physically bigger than me now, so I don't worry about them getting lost in the woods or falling down the steps during a heated nerf gun battle. They are still messy. I've learned to adjust, and I think most of my kids' friends now feel at least comfortable at our house.
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Some sort of outdoor entertainment, like a basketball hoop.
You will notice that food seems to be pretty important. There is no such thing as too much. Whatever you have will eventually get eaten, so just keep serving it up. For a recent breakfast for seven boys I scrambled 18 eggs, fried 3 pounds of bacon, and made 4 recipes of pancakes. Gone in less than 15 minutes.
It was kind of like a holiday dinner: lots of cooking time for very little consumption time. Other moms report similar feedings, as if a swarm of locusts or a pack of wolves has passed through the kitchen. But we also know we wouldn't have it any other way. In a few more years, we'll all run into each other at the grocery store and notice we are buying six eggs and a little 8 ounce package of precooked turkey bacon, or maybe a bag of salad with some chicken breast for protein.
"I miss the garbage pizza," we'll lament. "Remember when they'd eat a whole pan of brownies?"
Mess and empty refrigerator be damned. Come on over, boys!