There are some neighborhood kids (3 to 4 children, ages 5-8) who are apparently bored after school and roam the block looking for people and things to play with. They recently found my home as my child is one of the classmates of one of these children, and basically swarmed my yard, taking toys out of the garage and playing (wildly). We keep our garage door closed even when home, but we were outside this first encounter, and in the future, I will keep the garage closed even when working or playing outside.
I understand this is what kids do, to an extent. I was struck by the brazenness with which they assumed all items they could see were available for their own entertainment without asking permission even once.
With that initial encounter, my house is now one of the regular stops on their trips around the block looking to reduce their boredom, even to the point of knocking on my door to ask if my child can come out and play.
I know, this is Cosby show material; everyone wants to be a good host to the neighborhood kids. However, they can sometimes be too much to handle. I don't feel comfortable with them playing in my yard unsupervised, so I have to stop whatever I'm working on to keep an eye on them. They've nearly destroyed a few of my child's toys already.
I have a pretty set routine/schedule with my spouse and child, working on homework, cooking dinner, spending family time together, etc., and so the disruption is unsettling to me. I know these kids' names from my child, as they all go to the same school, but I do not know where they live, nor have I met their parents.
I do know they have limits to how far they are allowed to roam, but it seems like they have no other limits. I've told them (honestly), at various times, that my child is doing homework or eating supper, and cannot come out to play, so they hang out in the yard, waiting for him to be done. I have informed them that if none of our family are outside, that my child is not available to play, but if we are outside, there is no problem to play. But despite that, they keep knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell within minutes of being told that the time is not a good one.
I am in Texas, USA in a medium-sized city.
What is the best way to convince these children that we prefer they play when my family initiates a play time? I don't want to disappoint them or be grumpy or mean. I don't want to upset them such that their parents come find me and express their anger about how I treat their children. I just want to have my quiet home where I can work and play on my own terms, and not having to be a babysitter for children who are poorly behaved around others and who only occasionally heed my instruction.