Back in 4BC (before children) I was always very careful to return the favour when we’d been invited to friends’ houses for the weekend or for dinner, or a BBQ. It was enjoyable and I like entertaining.
The build-up was a delightful melee of scouring cocktail-making books, sending update emails, zooming around the supermarket picking up canapes, a box of straws and a delightful little set of shot glasses.
I loved visiting people and I loved having people to visit.
Oh how times change!
Over the last four years I have in the main loved visiting people – staying with family, weekends with friends and also the odd afternoon bbq at the lovely immaculate houses of my work colleagues. I don’t mind the packing, the travelling hasn’t been too bad and the enjoyment of having other people entertain our daughter has sent me to the dizzy heights of elation whilst I sip on a pimms and hold half-intellectual conversations about life, work and recent Netflix series.
So, as I say, I love visiting people. However, when it comes to having them back to ours to ‘return the favour’, my desire has somewhat wained.
Now, close family are always welcome as are friends with children (as long as they bring a bottle and don’t expect waitress service). However, I cannot bring myself to host anything for my work colleagues and those who migrated beyond the nappy-changing stage over twenty years ago.
I’m just a bit embarrassed and a bit too knackered to put the effort in.
Our house is not immaculate, I don’t have time to plan a music list, make some home-made punch, buy some more shot glasses. I don’t have the energy to be the consummate host anymore.
I ask myself whether I should have refused the recent invites knowing that it was highly unlikely I’d ever invite people to ours for a similar soiree. But, with a limited social life and the opportunity to be waited on, fed and watered, in nice surroundings – how could I possibly pass up the chance!? It is a rare luxury these days don’t you think?
There is guilt and if I had a spare week with no parenting duties, maybe I could organise a good knees-up, but I’m sorry, at this stage in our lives, I won’t be repaying the favour for at least ten years.
I hope my colleagues understand and don’t hold it against me that we’re all take and no give, I’ll make it up to them in 2026.