Your adult children will beg you to visit more often if you follow these eight tips.
As the person who once ruled the roost, you might feel a little strange or awkward to suddenly be a guest in the home of your adult children. While it may be difficult at first to deal with this shifting relationship, it’s important to be flexible and respect the new role you are in. (All while still knowing full well that your baby will always be your baby!)
“There is more to being a good houseguest than just being nice and doing your part to help out,” according to the Emily Post Institute, an organization that offers etiquette advice and training. “And family members, take note: Guest manners are called for, even when you stay with relatives.”
With the holidays coming up, here are some quick tips and reminders on how to be the parent and in-law your children want to invite back.
8 tips to being a great guest
While every family is different and some of these tips might be unnecessary for you, these are generally good rules of thumb to be a great guest to your adult children.
1. Avoid the pop-in
Unless your children have explicitly said they are happy for you to come by unannounced and whenever you want, it’s best to at least send a quick text to say that you are coming by. Even better, ask when would be a good time to visit.
2. Be respectful of schedules
Babies and kids (and, in turn, their parents) have pretty different daily schedules than most adults, with the days typically starting and ending pretty early. Because kids thrive most in routine, families usually keep to the same timetable most, if not all, days. Be sure to respect kids’ meal times, nap times, bath times, and bedtimes. Of course, exceptions often are allowed when grandparents come to town, but let the parents decide whether their kids can stay up a little later.
3. Respect the rules
Along with schedules, be sure to respect rules, too. If your adult children have limited their kids to one cookie a day, don’t question or challenge the rule, even if you want to spoil your grandchildren. Undermining your adult child’s parenting methods is a sure way to make yourself an unwelcome guest in their house! Uncertain about a rule? Then ask your adult child! This shows respect for their rules while also building trust.
4. Offer to babysit
If you’re up for it and are able to, most parents would be oh-so appreciative of some free babysitting so they can have a date night. Be sure to know the house rules and follow any instructions they leave, so that the parents don’t return home to chaos.
5. Offer to help but don’t go overboard
In general for any guest etiquette, it’s a good rule of thumb to offer to help with cooking, cleaning, and setting the table. But if your child prefers to cook or clean up alone in their house, then respect those wishes. Don’t take over the kitchen (no matter how helpful you think you’re being). After so many years as the head of household, it might be tough to give up control, but it’s an important boundary to respect in another person’s home.
6. Avoid comments that could be taken as criticism
Sometimes unsolicited comments can be taken as insulting, even if we don’t mean them to be. Is your child’s house not as clean as you think it should be? Are they not strict enough with the kids? It can be difficult for a grown child to hear suggestions (“You know, I find that when I squeegee the shower after each use, it stays much cleaner”) as anything other than a criticism (“Your shower needs some work”). Unless you’re asked for your advice, it’s usually best to keep suggestions to yourself.
7. Take a little break
Sometimes it’s nice to give everyone a little break, yourself included! Disengaging for a while, whether it’s to the guest room or going out for a walk, gives your adult children and grandkids a little privacy, along with some time to recalibrate. Bring a book or sketchpad, and enjoy that bit of quiet time for yourself.
8. Don’t leave a mess
While you are indeed a guest, it’s important not to expect your kids to wait on you, hand and foot. Be self-sufficient when you can – surely, you can figure out where the coffee cups are – and don’t leave a messy trail behind you.
With a little self-restraint and empathy, you may find your visits to your child’s home calmer and more enjoyable – and may find yourself getting invited back far more often!
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