We all want our children to have friends in the neighborhood, but fewer of us like it when a neighbor's kids assume they can come over anytime to play without warning. Take Circle of Moms member Shelley C. Her neighbor's six-year-old frequently walks into her home and yard unannounced. Shelley's first instinct was to be polite; she suggested to the neighbor that the little girl (who sometimes brings her brother) come back and play when her own kids were home. But the neighbor ignored the invitation (as well as the intention behind it), and the kids continue to wander over.
Establishing boundaries without alienating the people who live right next door can be incredibly tricky. As another Circle of Moms member, Cristy F., points out, there's wear and tear on your good will: neighbors who let their kids wander over without warning are taking advantage of you as an implied babysitter. Other moms, like Danielle B., worry about liability. If a neighbor's child is injured on your property, she explains, you might be found liable for the accident. And some parents are so angered by frequent, uninvited little guests that they suggest calling the police or reporting a trespassing violation. But it seems that there might be other ways to keep the peace without resorting to extreme measures. Here are four, ranging from gentle to direct.
1. Beat Your Neighbors to the Punch
We have a neighbor whose son is the same age as ours, and our kids are good friends, but it's often awkward when they stop by unannounced with their dog, who is as sweet as can be — except in the eyes of our cat. We often welcome them in, and even sometimes make an impromptu dinner for everyone, but this often spills into disrupting our son's bedtime, which, of course, wreaks havoc the next day.
We've successfully curtailed these drop-in visits by beating our neighbors to the punch. For example, we might invite them to meet us at the park on Saturday, and say, "See you Saturday" at the end of the conversation, casually implying that we won't be seeing them before then.
2. Walk the Child Back to Their Own Home
Heather D. suggests that, if a child shows up at your house without a parent, you kindly walk the child home and explain that you're concerned that the child is unattended. And if this is a genuine concern, then you have a responsibility to call Child Protective Services, given that the child's welfare might be at stake. That will certainly get a neighbor's attention.
3. Explain to the Child that She Must Ask Before Coming In
Jane S. has creative approach that worked for her in a similar situation. Instead of talking with the parents, she discussed the issue directly with the child, who seemed to understand that he could not enter her home without asking first.
4. Keep it Lighthearted with a Signal System
Another way to remain hospitable, says Antoinette S., is to devise a system of signals so that the kids will know when you're open to having them visit. This could be a flag on your door, a handmade stoplight, or some other agreed-upon sign. This is a way of indicating politely when it is not okay for them to come over. And if that is most of the time, then the kids (if not their parents) will likely get the hint...eventually.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.