I cant stop comparing what we have to everyone around me

(50 Posts)
CrossWords Sat 20-Jul-13 23:01:14

We live in a wealthy area but in a small flat. It makes me miserable that we dont have the space for my kids to invite other kids back for playdates or sleepovers. All their friends are in big 3 or 4 bedroom houses. I feel like they are beginning to realise they are not in the same boat which makes me really sad. Is it better to move to a different area than be less well off in a nice part of london?

Beautifulbabyboy Sun 21-Jul-13 12:33:29

Sorry should read camper van!

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 21-Jul-13 12:38:53

Unless you're actually living in your car, I can't believe that your place is too small for your DCs to have friends over - especially at this time of year when you can take everyone out to the park and just come home to eat.

Reality Sun 21-Jul-13 12:38:53

My best mate lives in a great big, gorgeous, house. When we met I was a single parent living in a small flat with my 2dc.

The first time her DS (then aged about 5) came to tea, he went home and complained to his mum that it wasn't fair we got to live in a cool flat and they only had a boring old house....

TimeofChange Sun 21-Jul-13 12:41:21

OP: 20 years on two of my DDs friends have told me they loved coming to our modest house to play, because we were welcoming and didn't fuss.

Those girls lived in big, posh houses but their parents were just so bloody particular about cleaning and mess being made, not being allowed dens etc.

poopyisapig Sun 21-Jul-13 14:36:52

Don't worry about what you have or don't have, it's really not important.

3 years agoI owned a huge country pile which was the envy of everyone we knew. People used to always say how lovely it was, and kids always wanted to come and play as it was big and rambling.

Now I am renting a shoebox in a city (well, in London zone 3) in a very affluent area where all ds friends live in large houses. Ds gets picked on because of it.

Luckily, ds doesn't care. When we had it all, I was miserable and in a shite marriage. Now, we are happy. He is 11 and says himself that maybe the families in big houses aren't happy because we weren't.

It's been a very good lesson for him. Not so much for me, as I grew up poor and I know nothing lasts forever, so I wasn't a bitch. Unlike some of the mums I know now who (openly) look down on me.

3 years ago they would have been licking my arse to get an invite to coffee to be able to take a look inside my house. I am still the same person. It's taught me a lot about people.

Chatteringarses Sun 21-Jul-13 14:43:34

Don't know about you, OP, but I find play dates and having visitors in our flat tricky because unless you already know them well it can feel too intimate and exposing with them being in here. Half of our life is always spilling out of cupboards or is piled up in corners as we literally have nowhere to put it.

And as soon as there is the smallest amount of child mess in the flat it looks an absolute disaster- small spaces that can be kept spick and span would be a different matter I think. Of course it's fine for the kids to make a mess when they play, I just cringe at what their parents will think about us when they survey the wreckage at home time.

We have a tiny galley kitchen and living room in one, not-large room, so visiting adults and children have to share the space. This requires both groups to modify their behaviour and I worry that neither will get what they want out of the visit. (Or at least it will be this way until all of our DC are old enough to play unsupervised in DC bedroom. )

We also don't have a kitchen table or breakfast bar or a dining table- just a sofa to sit on with a coffee table to eat from. The high chair makes my DC tower above us when we are all eating which is kind of ridiculous though obvs the baby doesn't care yet. My NCT friends are all talking about weaning and trying to get their kids' table manners going and that stuff whereas obviously our kid has no opportunity to sit up at a proper table and learn by observing everyone eating together at home and so forth, so I fear the raising of mumfriends' eyebrows.

Not having a table/desk in the flat is a pain. At the moment when I do freelancing I do it with the laptop on my knees or in our bed while baby sleeps which is not ideal. I need to find some more substantial work soon and I'd like to be able to get a nanny share as it would be cheaper than the exorbitant nursery fees locally. But I can't imagine how any other family would want to let their kid be cared for half the time in our poky flat even if we could find a willing nanny to take us on when they could be up the road in a flash house and car to drive etc etc.

Kids aren't judgmental about things like this, don't let it worry you. Lounge sleepovers are what they will ask for when they get older by older, i mean over 6! and you will be banished to your bedroom, however large your house is! Once they get much older than that, sleepovers are a waste of time anyway. You can always take a group camping or something, most basic pitches are about a £10 a night.
As for playdates, they aren't going to worry about it, either let them loose in the living room, or take a few friends to the park and come back for a quick burger or something.

poopyisapig Sun 21-Jul-13 14:49:16

chatter your place sounds identical to mine. We don't have a table either, just a sofa and coffee table. We've had a few of ds friends comment on this rude little gits and one of the parents actually said to me about ds 'oh, poor thing, you are really missing out on family life not eating round a table'. Cow.

Notcontent Sun 21-Jul-13 14:56:20

I live in a nice part of North London which is very mixed - lots of social housing, as well as some big fabulous houses and anything in between. I have recently moved into a very small house, which feels like a big step up for me, but is small and shabby compared to some of the houses where dd's friends live.

What I think is hardest is, as some of you have said, when your children start to notice the difference and make comments about it. I have thought a lot about it and I think it's just an important lesson in life for children. I have decided to downplay the "well, we just don't have as much money" message and simply try to explain that everyone is different.

Chatteringarses Sun 21-Jul-13 15:18:24

Sorry Poopy that you have had people being twats about where you now live, how pathetic. And for kids to actually pick on your DS for that reason.. ! They must have vile snobs as their parents and I am really glad he manages not to take it to heart. Huge and vastly expensive chichi local florists' bunch of flowers to you, for getting you and your child out of a bad situation into a happy one. You sound like a fantastic mum.

The kind of snobbery you describe is what I am worrying about for the future with the level of privilege in this area, so I am going to try to become philosophical about comments that may be made. I will also will try to instil in my DC proper values without making them feel any anxiety about where they live which is perfectly fine for three people and has many positives to it.

DP and I were each brought up in tiny and rundown housing by a struggling (financially, emotionally) unhappy single parent with very very rare visits home for tea from other kids. By a certain age I didn't want most other kids to see my home or parent because they made it clear that it all seemed so wierd to them. So anyway we certainly don't assume that people should be judged by what they have or where they live which is a good life lesson to have. I am guessing that's why I am oversensitive to others' passing judgement on this part of mine and DC's life now.

Chatteringarses Sun 21-Jul-13 15:32:51

Poopy ooh I am glad to know that you are also in the coffee table club. I thought I was the only one! Thoughtless smug people who think that a dining table is required in order to have a 'family life' clearly have a very strange perception of what family life is. Ignore, Ignore.

(Although I am now also sending you a hypothetical large antique polished side table to put your obscenely large hypothetical MN flowers on because they would otherwise completely obscure your view of your dinner and DS. grin )

poopyisapig Sun 21-Jul-13 15:53:39

Chattering grin

I like my tiny flat though. I don't spend my life cleaning now!

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 21-Jul-13 16:02:10

When the DC are teenagers there will be a time when you won't want family meals at the table because of the provocative arguments.

We have a huge house in zone 2 but it's a rather shabby home. DS has loads of chums in zone 3 in pristine palaces three times the size and with pools indoor and out. His chums don't seems to spend most of their time here because it's perfect; it's because I let them chill, don't fuss about footprints in the hall and order them Dominos and let them get on with it. Even if I do make them put the empty boxes out the next morning and take the hoover to the crumbs.

DS has said once or twice it's like living in the house that time forgot and then has said but I've never been scared to come home and you've never come down and asked when people are going home even if you come and ask if their mums know where they are.

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 21-Jul-13 16:03:31

It's huge by zone two standards btw not national standards and it's nowhere near grand.

CrossWords Tue 23-Jul-13 02:15:55

Chatteringarses - thank you thank you for making me feel sane/not alone. So much of what youve written is what i've felt too ....

Monty27 Tue 23-Jul-13 02:35:10

If I belonged to an NCT group with big houses flats etc and I lived in a small flat, I would be inviting them back to my small flat, because I would want them to know who exactly I am and wouldn't be ashamed of it.

A loving home is better than anything smile

Kiwiinkits Tue 23-Jul-13 02:47:16

To answer your question, no, it's always location, location, location. If you're in a good area, don't move.

Your storage is an issue. You've probably got more storage space than you think you have. Think vertical - go upwards. Shelves above doorways, along walls. Also space under beds. Think about getting a storage consultant/designer in to give you some advice and a quote. IMO it is worth spending good money on solving your storage issue because it will really improve your quality of life, by the sounds of it. Cheaper by far than moving, too.

Kiwiinkits Tue 23-Jul-13 02:50:00

Figure out what it would cost you to move. The basic cost. Moving truck, real estate fee, etc. If you can spend less than that on sorting out your storage issue then you have actually SAVED YOURSELF MONEY!

musicposy Tue 23-Jul-13 03:57:05

One of DD's friends lives in a large, beautiful, very minimalist house with acres of land. We live in a small, very overcrowded, messy terraced house on a housing estate. We are so poles apart it's laughable.

A month or two ago, this friend suddenly said to me "I love coming to your house". I was utterly knocked back -our house is tatty and small and falling to bits! I said "but your house is beautiful."

She said "your house has a lovely feel. You're allowed to do anything here. It feels like a home".

This was from an 11 year old! I was so touched but it just goes to show that size isn't everything. smile

The main thing is to let your kids have friends around.

We had a garden but my Mum didn't let me have friends around ostensibly because of my brother's disabilities but really because she is quite extraordinarily antisocial. The happiest memories of my childhood are of going around to friends' tiny little houses and flats and having perfect freedom to run around and scream and make mess.

Kids really don't care about boring shit like house size.

I am now trying to find a small flat because I hate cleaning this bloody house so much! Will miss the garden, though.

RainyAfternoon Tue 23-Jul-13 12:20:17

CrossWords - when I was little we lived in a two room 4th floor flat for 5 years. (2 room, not 2 bedroom). We had a galley kitchen in one room, and my sister and I had z-beds we put down at night. The other room had an alcove which housed my parent's bed and a corner was taken up by a small bathroom. It was a bit different to your situation as we were overseas so my parent's had made that decision partly for adventure. I love my memories of our time in that flat. It was just home - and I think the happiest period in my childhood. What I do remember is not understanding why I couldn't bring any friends home for tea, so if you can, I think it's important to try and have the odd friend round. I also live now in a very small house in a very nice area and we are a bit stuck, so I do appreciate where you are coming from. It's tricky, but we are responsible for painting our children's childhood memories and I think it's still possible to create magical memories even if you aren't quite living in the house you want to be.

marriedinwhiteagain Tue 23-Jul-13 21:10:43

I mix with anyone and welcome anyone. I've had more snidey comments from those who are worse off than from those who are better off yet I wouldn't dream of being rude or making a nasty comment about anyone because they might have less than optimum or even adequate living standards. I think people are every bit as hurtful in reverse to the OPs situation. remembers when I went back to work and invited the young girl from NZ who was so lonely and tearful here that I brought her home for supper Will never forget the nasty, bitchy, carping little comments thereafter. Never tried to help a work colleague since. Sad.

Chatteringarses Wed 24-Jul-13 16:00:01

Thanks for this thread Crosswords. Sorry you have been affected by the same worries. Reading these posts has made me acknowledge to myself how greatly I've been allowing my anxieties about our living space to limit myself and DC socially. I've not discussed this issue with anyone in RL as obviously none of us are in the exact same domestic circs and I don't want to set up an awkward Thing between us, so I've been pointlessly stewing instead.

I can't ignore the problems created by being in this teeny place but I'm also going to try to feel the judgey fear and invite some nice NCT people over for playdates anyway.

From what the other posters are saying its more important that I shouldn't inflict my adult anxieties on my DC's social life so I'm going to try giving it a go at this early stage.

I've had a bit of a clear out blitz and will try to keep the worst of the visible clutter at bay and then launch project 'small but Perfectly formed' at some point in the near future.

Guess there is not much to lose from this rather sad state of affairs and I really don't want my kid to be feeling on the edge of social groups all the time. I fear that that will definitely be the case if I don't confront this. Good luck with it for you. Hopefully the other locals will be a lot more open minded than we think!

Chatteringarses Wed 24-Jul-13 16:02:10

married sorry you fell foul of what sounds like a workplace mean girl. Don't let it stop you being nice as that is obviously your inclination which is a lovely thing! smile

nkf Wed 24-Jul-13 16:05:49

I grew up with this sort of feeling and I have the same issue of being relatively poor in an affluent neighbourhood. I try not to mind and I will always have kids round. My children seem cool about it, but that maybe because I'm quite laid back about other things and it's easy to be in our house.

I also take my kids' friends out on trips. To the park, to wherever we are going really. I took a bunch to the beach the other day.

The alternative is to be relatively well off in a poorer neighbourhood and I don't fancy that at all.

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