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Help with the in's and out's of Proper Neighborhood Play Etiquette PLEASE

  1. Kemma

    grapefruit / 4291 posts

    We just moved to a new neighbourhood in February and have happily discovered that there are three girls (9, 7, 5) living across the road from us. We live at the end of a very quiet cul de sac up the top of a hill so I’m happy for my kids (6 and 4) to play on our verge and up on the road with them. I can hear what they’re doing and have a partial sight line up to the road (we’re down from the street level) and the other Mum is above the street so she can see them too. At this point in time we don’t play inside but the kids are welcome to run around in either yard.

  2. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    That is so sweet to read all this! However, I wouldn't allow your DD, 5, to go into the neighbor's house 7 houses down, all by herself, and you met them 2 days ago. Hell no lol. They could be child molesters or even serial killers for all that I care. Too many weirdos nowadays. Watched too many documentaries. One time I invited DS' new friend from school to our house for a playdate (They were new to our school and was there for about almost a full semester). I texted her mom, her mom very politely asked me if we had a gun in the house lol (we don't). I strangely really appreciated the question as it showed me what kind of parents they are (the type who is very thoughtful and care). This is the world we live in.

    And for outside playdates, I'd stand outside as a courtesy because you are not asking people to babysit your child for free (especially they are 7 houses down with no sidewalk access). DS is 7 now and I still do that. When you have a more established relationship then maybe, but still always be available because your new neighbors are not responsible for your child.

    It all sounded great though, a great start at a great neighborhood! All this will be good when your DD grows older and you know them a bit more closely. Definitely OK if you schedule playdates where you or your DH is present.

  3. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    @irene: LOL.. see this is how I think... must be watching too many documentaries or news stories but I am petrified of human trafficking and totally agree that anyone could be a pedophile or murderer and I'd never know!!! I'm totally not ok with DD going into their home... I honestly didn't even like it when she was in their garage. I get complete anxiety whenever DD mentions a sleep over BUT I know that I am going to have to get over it at some point. I mean DD is very social and she already wants to do sleep overs.. I can't always make the sleep overs be at our house! ha I'm going to have to let her go at some point but man is it scary

  4. Dynamite

    olive / 53 posts

    We know our only next door neighbors with kids close in age to ours. I worked with the mom for a while, and she's fine. But the dad is involved in some illicit stuff, so I don't really want my kids there unsupervised.

    In other news, I really wish my state would just legalize weed.

  5. cam

    cherry / 157 posts

    I think 5 is too young for what you're hoping for, but as they get older it will happen. A 5 year old still needs supervision, especially if they're playing out front. So letting her go over is asking something of the parents to supervise an additional kid. When they're a bit older and it's not an ask of the parents then it will be fine. I had a couple friends in my neighbourhood that I often played with but they were not directly on my street so I always called first and asked if they wanted to play. If I couldve seen them from my yard then I would've just gone over once allowed.

  6. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    @cam: i tend to agree with you however this other girl comes and goes freely. they went back and forth between our houses 2-3 times ... it's not that I am expecting the other parents to watch my kid at all, I'm not trying to drop her off and make them be responsible for her.. however the way it's played out is confusing to me. And I do feel that 5 is just a tad too young to be unsupervised however this other kid seems to be allowed more freedom and that's mostly why I was asking.... like I said I am new to this and I was caught off guard ..

    1. the little girl came over on her OWN and bombarded us as we pulled in (twice)
    2. she has gone back and forth between our houses more than once unsupervised (albeit a few times my daughter did the same)
    3. she wanted to come into our home when dd wanted to show her her room

    I guess I may have posed the questions as if I was the one doing these things but we aren't... they are and I was trying to gauge if this is OK and normal...

    I did let DD stay and play (outside) while I walked home to get dinner on and I did mention it to the dad who seemed ok... but I don't want him to feel like he has to parent her soooo I guess I have to rethink that.... and I surely do not want to parent their child.

  7. psw27

    pomelo / 5220 posts

    I have no advice, but I just want to say that we just moved to the suburbs 2 weeks ago and I'm super clueless about this stuff as well.

    My 4 year old is super social, wants to be everywhere with the other kids but the kids on the street are older and I feel like I"m hovering but I'm not letting him out of my sight cause he's a risk taker who moves way too fast.

    I completely understand what you are going through... It's so awkward too when the other kids are fine with it and you're like umm actually I don't need another set of 5 kids in my house right now cause I just pulled in from a 13 hour day and we have groceries and lunches to pack and laundry andddddd I also just kind of want to go inside and not talk..... anyway, I get it!!

  8. Corduroy

    pomelo / 5252 posts

    @Ajsmommy: We're in an area where kids play outside alone from a pretty young age. Open and honest communication between adults and between adults and kids has really helped keep everyone sane. It's been a challenge for most of the moms to say "it's time to go home" or "not today" but I think we're all there now - even the super polite neighbor from Japan. (The men don't seem to have any such issue telling the kids to buzz off.)

    Kids are not great at subtle cues so it's helpful to spell out what you need. If the neighbor is bombarding you when you get home you might want to try being direct. "We're so excited you want to play. When we get home we have to unpack the car, start dinner, breathe, etc. so DD isn't is available to play right away. We'll come out to play in 15 minutes." Create the boundaries you want even if they don't match your neighbors.

  9. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @Ajsmommy: I read your latest reply -- so it is THEM doing it, not you. Honestly, I wouldn't feel comfortable either myself. Again, my documentary watching is not helping (haha), doesn't child abductors keep children around to lure other children in lol. I honestly think you are OK in your case but this does this does reminds me of that a little lol. And why would these parents be so OK for their girl to actually go INTO a new neighbor's house for so many times and you guys just met, for me I wouldn't, at least until after I vet out if you guys are weirdos first lol. Different parenting style probably but all of it is just a tad strange.

    Bottomline is I don't think there is a "norm", it is up to what you feel is comfortable. I sense that you don't feel comfortable and there you go!

    With that said, I did chat with a friend who moved into a different neighborhood a few months ago and she appreciated the kids going into each other's houses for playdates. One day she found out the kids were in her kitchen table doing a craft or something. They are much older though (7 and 9 or something).

    For my neighborhood we are in a cul-de-sac. Kids come out to play, they knock on each other's doors and they asked if DS can come out to play. Sometimes the other moms text me to let us know they are outside. The kids wouldn't barge in and stay. If we are available we'll go out if not we'd say no we can't today. There is pretty much no feeling bad. I do think it is reasonable for you to say something to this other girl's parents. It is very dangerous for her to follow you guys as you pull into the garage, twice! What if one day you are pulling out and she sneaked behind your car and you hit her? It is a safety concern and I would definitely say something about it. Our neighbor's DS likes to do that too (follow us when we pull in) and I had to tell his mom because of safety reasons and they had to talk to their DS. And we are friends. It is perfectly OK to say something. Ask them to give you a heads up when their DD is coming over via text or something.

  10. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    so since I wrote this post a set of new neighbors have moved in and their house is IN our cul de sac. They have an 8 yo and a 5 yo and appear to have an older cousin living with them for the summer at least, I think he's 11-12.

    Anywooo, this has resulted in our kids playing together in the cul de sac area. DD is no longer wanting or needing to walk up the road to the other girls house and these kids play outside, they do not go inside or ask to come in or go in or anything like that so far.

    It's been GREAT!!! I have been able to sit on my front porch, eat my dinner while watching them play. DD is in heaven.

    So all is working out so well. We still haven't put up our play set but now I am wondering if we should put it on the side of our house so the neighbor kids can play on it and their parents can see them....??? the original plan was to put it directly behind our house but then there is no clear sight line for them....

  11. graceandjoy

    pear / 1565 posts

    @Ajsmommy: That's great that the problem resolved on its own!

    I actually came back to this thread b/c recently we met one of our neighbors and it turns out our kids are both incoming kindergartens, so now I'm totally waddling into the whole "what is proper etiquette thing" too. So hard!

    ETA: Honestly I'd put it where YOU really want it. Afterall it's your house. People might come and go so I wouldn't do something JUST for the kids.

  12. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    @graceandjoy: good luck!! LOL. I am soo glad these new neighbors have moved in and now I am hopeful that once the lot next to us sells that they will have some kids too.. just make it easier to keep them close! It is a little hard bc they have soo much fun and it's daylight out so late that it has run over into bedtime. I am pretty strict about trying to get them into bed early/on time BUT I am having to relax and just accept that it's summer and they'll be up a bit later than normal.. oh and having to bathe them every night bc they get SO DIRTY .. that's another thing that has popped up that I wasn't expecting. That adds to the nightly routine.... just an fyi heads up if you are like me and don't bathe your kids every single night...

    ETA: and thanks.. yes you're right, we'll probably keep with the plan to put the playset behind the house...

  13. graceandjoy

    pear / 1565 posts

    @Ajsmommy: I don't! Winter we only bath them once a week We are now at twice a week going into summer. Oh yeah last night b/c we just met them, we talked in front of our house and totally delayed bed time. I told her every night we pretty much come out to play/head to playground at around 6:30. I *think* it helps that they're the same age so schedule should be similar. There IS a family moving in 2 houses down with 3 kids. This thread needs to keep going so we can get all the advice for the ever changing situations!

  14. kiddosc

    grapefruit / 4278 posts

    @Ajsmommy: Isn't it great for them to have neighborhood friends?! I am so happy that right now they're happy to go outside and play all day rather than being wrapped up in video games or tv or honestly, bothering me to play all day. We got E a basketball hoop for his birthday this weekend an I've totally loved having half the street playing together in our driveway.

  15. ALV91711

    pomelo / 5619 posts

    @Ajsmommy: That is great that there are some closer kids to play with. I’d put your play structure where you want it. In the back will be good when you are fenced, the your DD can go out there herself and play.

    To speed up bedtime for when you stay out playing longer have you thought about showers instead of bathes? We switched DS to showered around 4. Now that he is outside so much he has a nightly shower and washes his hair a couple times a week. It is so much faster.

  16. agold

    grapefruit / 4042 posts

    @Ajsmommy: I have a similar set up as you! Iincluding being inside the culdesac with kids right across the street and other kids a little bit down the street. I suggest getting used to hanging out outside with your kids while they play in YOUR yard. That just works best. I work in my garage, sit and have a drink, or join in the playing. If you can manage to sit out and eat your dinner, that's awesome and I'm going to try to manage this myself.

    I also have a side yard with plastic (ugh) play things - a roller coaster and a slide climbing thing. I open the gate and the kids play there, or I actually drag those out to the front yard if I think we will be out there long enough. Other families usually end up walking by on their evening walks and staying for a bit, so it works out.

    And yes to the nightly baths! I have done every night baths since birth, but its absolutely a must after these play days.

    Get a bubble machine and side walk chalk!

  17. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    Reviving this bc last night the little girl asked DD to come into her house.. luckily it was as we were heading in bc DS was pitching a fit that he needed to "EEAAAAT.. EEAATTTTT".

    But the dad was like sure no problem come on over.. I was like woah.. it's dinner time, we're going in. So we escaped however DD mentioned it when we were inside...

    What do I say to her?? I dont' want to scare her but I want to be honest... I just told her I wasn't comfortable with her going there and it's my job to protect her and unfortunately going into their house isn't going to happen. She said that nothing would hurt her in their house and I told her that I didn't know that and I couldn't take that chance... she's pretty smart and astute so I dont' want to completely scare her. I just told her that playing outside is what they will do and they can play outside our house outside their house, on the lawns, on the playset (that is outback of our home)...

    anybody have to explain why they won't let their kid go into someone's house? what did you say? did they question you?

  18. SproutBee

    cherry / 157 posts

    @Ajsmommy: so, I do let my almost 6 year old go into two of our neighbors’ homes without my direct supervision... but we’ve known them for almost 5 years and have spent years at each other’s homes SUPERVISED with all parents present. I only started letting him go unsupervised around 5/5.5 years old. But I know the parents extremely well and trust them to care for my child.

    If you are neighbors, she will likely end up in their house at some point. I would suggest going with her and supervising her at their house so the girls can play. Of course only when you can with your schedule/plans. Once you know the parents well, you may then have the trust to let her go alone.

    ETA: I think it’s totally fine though to restrict play to outdoors. Just set the rule now and she’ll have that expectation. I don’t think you need to get into the weeds of stranger danger with her...

  19. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @Ajsmommy: I agree with @SproutBee: that it can just be a rule that we don’t go in other houses right now. I fully trust some of my neighbors, and would have no problem with them watching my kids, but still i don’t let my kids just go into their house without me. More out of respect for them- my kids will make a mess, they’d be babysitting my kid basically, and it’s one thing if that’s an agreed upon playdatr. Sometimes the kids do want to go inside and all the parents outside just say no, we are playing out here now. (Don’t get me wrong- the kids might whine and moan and keep trying to go inside! But none of the parents feel like dealing with that mess when it’s a perfectly nice day to play outside)

  20. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @Ajsmommy: Hmm, I would just say let mommy get to know them a bit better first. Right now we don't know them very well and you are not comfortable letting her go alone. Then, there are all these aesop fables about stranger danger. Read a couple of them together? It is really not scary, it is just the fact of life so it is a good teaching moment.

    In the meantime, if they are bound to be in your lives, maybe plan on inviting them over to your house and chat with the parents while the kids play? Make sure you tell the parents that you'd like to get to know them a bit more so they don't just drop off their child to your care.

  21. ALV91711

    pomelo / 5619 posts

    I would just make it a rule that you play outside. You can always change the rule down the road.

    DS is 6 and a couple of our his neighbourhood friends have come in to play in the past couple weeks because it is raining and he’s also gone in one of their houses. But we have been neighbours with these people over 5 years now, so we are ok with it.

    The thing I find annoying about inside play (especially when we have a couple kids over) is that then you have parents knocking to get their kids to come home. Annoying if I’m trying to feed the baby or put him down.

  22. Pumuckl

    pomegranate / 3601 posts

    Disclaimer: I am in another country so culturally things are different.

    To me playing in other people’s houses is totally normally if the other parents approve. We have the neighbors’ kids and my kids wandering around the different houses all the time. It all starts with the 4-5-year olds. Although even my 3-year-old neighbor’s daughter has been playing in our house often; but we know the parents well. We just give the kids a time when they must be home, usually that’s 6pm. While the kids cannot read the clock yet, they can remember it and just tell the other parents and they send them home in time.

  23. Ajsmommy

    pomegranate / 3355 posts

    I can tell that I am going to be the parent that has the most "rules" regarding this play with neighbors thing! LOL

    @SproutBee: I really am leaning towards just making the rule that DD can't go inside period. I've talked to this neighbor dad multiple times BUT he has his FIL living with him whom I have no idea about. I also don't like the idea of DD being unsupervised.... as for me tagging along to watch.. I feel like that would be awkward and I really can't do that bc I have DS who is 2. I'd have to bring him and he'd seriously wreck their house!! LOL...

    @Foodnerd81: I wish the other parents (the father) would be more like me and poo poo inside play... but he was right there and was like "sure come on over DD".. He did help out though when I said it's dinner time so we can't, he told his DD that we couldn't and that we had to go... but he was completely ok with my DD going into his home.

    @irene: These neighbors will be in our lives for a LONGGG time and our DD's will be in school together so I agree and I am working to get to know them. I talk to them every chance I get but for now I feel like it's just too soon. I feel like this has to be worked up to.. like maybe after a year or so of interacting maybe then....idk, I guess I can't really put a time frame on it but all I can say is right now I am not comfortable with it so it's too soon. Let's just hope I can get myself to the point where I am ok with if for DD's sake!

    @ALV91711: I think after more time i'll be more open and ok with it. It's only been a month and I feel like that's just too soon....

    @Pumuckl: I wish they'd go in by 6... but it appears these neighbors keep later hours than we do. But I am a stickler for early bedtimes as we wake up early. For example the night this all happened we got home at 5 and dd and ds played with them for about 45 mins to an hour and then we went in to have dinner around 6. Those kids stayed out and then the other girl (the original girl this post was started about) came down with her sister and they then played until about 8 pm!! I know bc I was putting DS to bed and we could hear them and I had to divert DD's attention so she didn't realize they were all out there bc then she would have wanted to go back out but I had to put DS to bed... oh my. This whole new thing is going to be interesting for me to navigate as we go forward....

  24. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @Ajsmommy: we do run I to problems with timing with my neighbors. Across the street the kids go to daycare and don’t get home until almost 6, then usually one parent stays outside with them playing while the other makes dinner. It’s just me so dinner doesn’t get started until i make everyone go inside but they want so badly to play with the neighbors. I’ve often erred on the side of later, super fast dinner so they can play longer but it can definitely backfire.

    In terms of going inside I just really emphasize that the weather won’t be this nice for very long so we are outside enjoying it while we can.

  25. muffinsmuffins

    persimmon / 1023 posts

    I would not feel bad about your rules or comfort whatsoever. Plenty of people have different limits than I do. As in, we have strict bedtimes like you said for both our kids and lots of our friends don’t. It seems sometimes like we are the only ones who aren’t letting our kids play outside or go to events/activities til 9 pm on school nights. But that’s our limit and we know what’s best for our family. This neighbour family may not even think twice about stranger danger or they have lax mealtimes/routines. You get to decide what you want regardless of them. I know if I was you and gave in, I would be worried the whole time so not worth it.

    I think the relationship needs time to build a comfort zone. We are setting up play dates with my sons JK kids this summer and we don’t know the parents at all other than DS is friends with their kid. So we start by meeting at the park and chatting. Then maybe that will progress to having them for outside play at our place, and eventually when they are older to a play date without parents inside. I would just say to your daughter that we are getting to know the neighbours and until we know them well, we won’t be going inside the same as with anyone we don’t know. Maybe you could even invite the parents over for some outside play at your place or do a trip together to a playground or something so you can actually chat and get an idea of their personalities.

  26. SproutBee

    cherry / 157 posts

    @Ajsmommy: I think you’re being totally reasonable that it’s too early. Know that if you’re going to be neighbors for awhile, though, the girls are going to keep wanting to play in each other’s homes (it’s only natural), so I would keep getting to know the family. After some time you may feel more comfortable. If your little girl is 5, she should be starting Kindergarten/Elementary School soon? In my recent experience, big kid school also comes with tons of requests for play dates (with only one parent supervising) and even drop and go birthday parties. So, I dunno... just a warning this issue may soon be coming up more often even with non-neighbor kids. I feel like play date rules all of a sudden changed rapidly in Kindergarten...


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