Do you have friends who are actually willing to host you and your litter for a visit, whether for a play date, holiday, or perhaps because you haven’t managed to lay eyes on one another for five years due to having children? Do your best to be a gracious guest by following this simple guide.
1. Get your kids napped, cleaned, brushed, pooped, dressed, and watered. Allocate at least 2 hours for this. If he’s coming along for the ride, follow through with hubby to make sure he’s done the same for himself.
2. Pack all of the things into all of the bags and all of the bags into the car’s trunk, which seemed plenty spacious when you were shopping for this car. Immediately after leaving, remember you forgot something critical, such as the only thing you were instructed to bring, then laugh inwardly at the thought of what it would mean to return home for it.
3. Endure a car ride with noisy, inquisitive children. Answer no fewer than a dozen nonsensical questions including what road is this and why are the clouds moving, as well as a few infuriatingly timed questions such as can they have a snack and will you please take them to the potty NOW.
4. Arrive at your friend’s house. Unpack all of the things onto the driveway and exclaim, “Looks like I’m moving in!” Enjoy the split second of panic that flickers across your friend’s face.
5. Unleash your children to play. Tell them to behave and pray they don’t figure out you’ll never follow through on your threat to take them home if they don’t.
6. Help yourself to whatever alcohol is within reach, such as the remainder of that magnum of Riesling your friend opened last night. Just kidding! There’s never leftover wine in your friend’s house. Proceed to opening a new bottle.
7. Work together to prepare dinner. You might as well be catering a wedding for the variety required to satisfy every palate. Even though you’re each holding a baby on your hip, you’re grateful that theoretically you have two hands trying to accomplish this task, even if they’re split between two people.
8. Create plates with perfectly cubed, nutritious food for the children. Watch as it either collects dust or hits the floor. Wait for them to request fruit snacks for dinner. Acquiesce after a battle of wills and the world’s tiniest bites of meat and veggies.
9. Repeat step 6.
10. Enjoy a brief 7-minute respite during which you can enjoy adult conversation as the kids play. You are likely seconds from a fight, tantrum, or injury. Avoid the temptation to take this opportunity to relax and close your eyes, lest the both of you fall deeply asleep within seconds and wake up to Sharpie drawings on the wall and an overflowing toilet.
11. Steel yourself for the inevitable, ultimate meltdown sure to occur as you announce your kids have five more minutes before it’s time to go home. Endure stamping feet, crocodile tears, and the question “Whyyyyyy?” several times over.
12. Put all of the things back in the car. Somehow you have either accrued more stuff or it’s increased in volume.
13. Physically force your children into their car seats. Remain grateful you are still temporarily larger and stronger than they are. Predictably they will now want to eat their dinners, which have long since been consumed by your friend’s dog or your husband.
14. Say goodbye to your friend and thank her for being a consummate hostess. Apologize for leaving her house looking like a family of raccoons threw a forest animal house party.
15. Even if your home is 3 minutes away, the children will fall asleep and positively howl when you try to get them into bed. Deposit them there regardless of what they’re wearing or how sticky they are.
No matter how scary the concept, remember to offer to return the favor and host your friend’s family next time. After all, no matter how difficult hosting is, it’s usually easier than going out … Maybe.