Sweat pours from your brow as you get ready to visit that friend who doesn’t have kids. Did I pack a change pad so I don’t dirty their couch? Bring some juice boxes and plastic cups in case he doesn’t have any? Make sure there are extra wipes in case of an accident? You arrive and you’re on the edge of your seat as you scan the room for all potential mishaps: the intricate piece of art begging to be touched, the immaculately-cleaned kitchen crying for a spill, and that beautiful white carpet or couch? Forget it.
Having kids doesn’t mean you have to stop visiting those friends who don’t. But what can you do before heading over to ensure your kid doesn’t leave their house in ruins? Here are 10 tips for families with young kids to follow before visiting friends who don’t have kids, and thus kid-proofed homes.
10 Talk To Your Kids Ahead Of Time
Depending on the age of your kids, have a quick talk with them ahead of time to reinforce manners and good behaviour. Let them know to be on their best behaviour, and that there will be consequences if they aren’t.
Despite naysayers that suggest rewards for following rules don’t work, consider offering one for kids this one time if they listen and don’t cause a ruckus in the house. It could be extra screen time the next day, or a trip to the park or shopping mall for a new toy. A little incentive could go a long way to a pleasant evening.
9 Talk To Your Friends Ahead Of Time
Warn your friends that your kids are rambunctious and having a civilized conversation might be tough. See if they have a movie they can set up that the kids can watch (or if they’re okay with you bringing one) or activities to keep them busy.
Generally, just prepare them for what’s to come and ensure that they are ready and willing for it. Otherwise, offer to switch the meet-up to your place instead (you can order in if you aren’t up for cooking) or pick another date and time to hang out when you can arrange sitters for the kids.
8 Bring Along Some Of Their Favorite Toys
Don’t leave all the onus on your friends: load the car up with some of your kids' favorite (but quiet!) toys and games, like building blocks and toy cars for the little ones – anything that will keep them entertained so you can enjoy an hour or so of good adult conversation.
For school-aged kids, consider bringing along some workbooks or homework they can finish up while there so they don’t feel “bored.” Your friends might even want to play or hang out with the kids, or even help them with their homework, which will make both parties feel involved. When all else fails, a tablet will always keep kids busy and entertained long enough for your friend to tell you all about their exciting vacation to Machu Picchu.
7 Consider Bringing A Packable Playpen
With toddlers who have just started to walk, you’ll inevitably spend the entire day chasing them around, making sure they don’t get into one cupboard or another, touch a breakable statue, or find a rogue pen and starting writing on the walls.
Consider bringing along a portable and packable playpen that you can set up in your friend’s living room to keep the child at bay for at least short spurts of time. Include toys so the kid can play. You can all still interact with the child, but you can also enjoy sitting down and relaxing for a bit before resuming the chase once again.
6 Suggest You Take The Party Outside
If it’s nice out, suggest that maybe you sit outside in their backyard where your child can safely run around and explore without worry that they might break or spill something. Bring a soft ball or other outdoor toy the child can entertain themselves with.
If your friends have a pet, like a dog, the child may enjoy playing with the dog while the adults relax with some wine or coffee and good conversation. And you won’t have to worry about your child ransacking the house.
5 Make Sure They’ve Had Their Naps
Before even considering heading to a friend’s place, make sure that your kids, especially toddlers, have had their required naps. The last thing you want is a cranky or grumpy child who needs to be put down for a nap and will be squirming in your arms and pulling at your sleeves the entire time.
Once the child is well-rested, even if it means showing up late, head out and enjoy a happy and excitable child who will surely make for much more pleasant company (and won’t scare your friends off from ever having kids!)
4 Ask Your Friend To Put Away The Most Valuable (Breakable) Items
To ensure that you aren’t worried the entire time, ask your friend ahead of time to put away any especially valuable or breakable items that might be within arm’s reach of your child.
It will be simple for them to grab items and throw them into their bedroom for the day, and put away their laptops. They might appreciate the forewarning if there are things that are of sentimental or high value. You can then rest easy that your child won’t slip away for a minute only for you to hear a loud crash or rip and feel obligated to pay for or replace whatever they ruined.
3 Bring A Small Blanket
Bring a small blanket in addition to a change pad that you can use for diaper changes if they are still necessary, or for your child to sit on if they are prone to accidents or in the middle of being potty trained.
Without a nursery, you might have to change the child on a bed or the floor, so having this extra piece of material will give you the reassurance that you won’t leave any stains or spills on bedding, carpets, or furniture. Plus, your friend might appreciate that you were so considerate.
2 Bring Lots of Wipes
You probably already have lots of wipes on you, especially if you’re bringing a baby or toddler. But make sure you bring the wipes with you and keep them close at hand to quickly wipe your child’s fingers after they enjoy the popsicle or chocolate your friend has given them (they don’t know how dangerous that is!) before the remnants end up on their furniture or clothing.
You can do quick cleans as necessary to ensure that any stains or prints come from the dog and not your child!
1 Bring a High Chair for Eating
If you’re going for lunch or dinner, you will likely have to keep a toddler in your arms to eat because your friend won’t have a booster seat. Bring a portable one so your child can sit at the table with everyone else and be part of the fun. You can fully enjoy your meal while your child enjoys theirs.
If you don’t have a portable boosters (there are handy ones that can clip to the back of any standard kitchen or dining chair) plop a baby into their car seat and perch it atop the chair at the table, or roll the stroller up to the table so a toddler can be part of the action.