“Guests, like fish, begin to stink after three days.” -Benjamin Franklin
It’s summertime, ladies! Sunshine, gardening, laying at the beach, reading good books, sipping a cold drink on the patio. I love summer. I love the heat. I love going barefoot all day. I love warm nights listening to crickets and frogs. Nothing better.
For many of us, summertime also means house guests. I live in a resort town, so when the hot weather hits, family and friends love to come visit, hang out by the pool, and enjoy the lake and wineries.
I love having guests stay at my house. It’s a great time of connection, fun, and enjoying the summer together.
It can also be stressful at times, and – depending on the type of guest – downright exhausting. This can turn your summer into drudgery, and leave you feeling like you are the entertainment coordinator, cook, cleaner and dishwasher for hungry hordes that may or may not pitch in and help.
I was out for a walk with a friend the other day, and she was sharing her house guest woes. Every summer, she has family visit for a couple of weeks. She babysits their children while they enjoy nights out on the town. She buys groceries, cooks meals, and generally creates an incredible vacation for these folks. Problem is, after doing this year after year, she was starting to feel resentful and taken advantage of. She no longer looked forward to their visit; instead, she dreaded it.
We talked about what could be different this year. How could she show up differently, and set boundaries around the visit so that she could relax and feel good about the time they spent together? What would it feel like to put her needs first, instead of ignoring them for two weeks and then feel burned out and depleted?
She came up with a few solid boundaries that she felt would help. She decided she would email the family first and let them know that while she’s excited about their visit, it would only work for them to stay for one week instead of two. She also let them know that she would not be available to babysit their children, but she had an excellent babysitter lined up for them if they wanted to go out for an evening. She also specified that they could either pitch in financially for groceries, or they could take over cooking for a couple dinners.
Her family was understanding of her boundaries, and accepted them with grace.
Now my friend is looking forward to the visit. She also feels empowered, because she made her needs known and expressed them in a healthy way. She’s excited about having the family visit because she knows that she won’t be compromising her own needs while they are there, and she laid the groundwork for a mutually enjoyable time.
If you’re struggling with setting boundaries with house guests, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Have A Clear Arrival and Departure Date. Before your guests arrive, make sure that you discuss when they are arriving and when they are leaving. If they ask to stay longer than you feel comfortable with, politely let them know that this timeline doesn’t work for you, and give them dates that do work.
Plan Your Time Together. Do you need to get work done while they’re visiting? Do you have appointments, or simply don’t want to give up your yoga classes or a lunch with a friend? Stick to your guns and keep these things in your schedule. As a recovering people pleaser, I can tell you that it is tempting to throw all your plans out the window in order to be ‘available’ to your company. Guess what? You will hate it, you’ll feel resentful, and your guests will pick up on the discord. Keep making yourself a priority. Your guests are grown ups; they can fend for themselves for a few hours.
Ask For Help. Don’t take on the role of Cook, Cleaner, and Servant. Tell your guests that you’d like them to cook dinner one night, or to pick up some groceries. If they offer to help, for gods sake take them up on it! Delegate like a boss lady and enjoy a glass of wine while others do the work.
Don’t Be A Perfectionist. You’re house doesn’t have to look like a show home for your guests. In fact, if it does, it might keep them from relaxing because you are cleaning up behind them like an insane person. If you can relax, and understand that extra people make for extra mess and that’s okay, you might find you are able to enjoy the visit more. Have a cleaning party the day they leave where the house gets whipped into shape. Or better yet, hire a cleaning service to come in after your company leaves, and take yourself out for a nice lunch.House guests should be regarded as perishables: Leave them out too long and they go bad. Emma Bombeck #quoteClick To Tweet
Don’t Be Responsible For Everyone Else. This is a biggie! You are not responsible for other people’s happiness! It is not your job to create the perfect holiday for them. It is not your job to ensure that they are happy. That is their job. If they aren’t enjoying themselves, that’s their problem. Let go of needing to make sure everyone around you is happy, and focus on yourself. If you are happy, because you’ve set great boundaries and you’re taking care of yourself, that will go a long way to creating an energy of peace and contentment in your home. Let everyone else take care of themselves, and you will feel less stressed and more relaxed.
Summer is a magical time. It is a short two months (that’s eight weekends, people!) that we get to revel in all this season has to offer. Don’t let it slip through your fingers while you stress about company and worry about being overwhelmed. Set some boundaries to ensure that your time with your company is fun, full of connection, making memories and relaxing.
Isn’t that what summer is all about?
Have a great one!