Saturday, August 22, 2015

Surviving house guests for a month

We have friends staying with us right now.  They bought a new home and are renting out their old one.  Back in July, their closing date was pushed forward so they didn't have had enough time to do the renovations on their new home before they had to be out of their old one for the renters, so we told them that they could stay with us.  They are a family of six with children ages 7, 5, 2.5 & 11 months so it was obvious that if they didn't get the repairs, painting and floors done before they moved in, it would never get done... right!?  *all parents nod their heads*

So here they are.... Look at my home filled with children!!
play dough time
They have been with us 3.5 weeks with another week to go and we still like each other!  haha!  We are friends and it's been great spending time together, often staying up far too late when we all have early risers!  The best thing is that my friend Krista likes to cook so she's prepared many meals for us.  She also eats a lot healthier and has given me tons of great, tasty ideas!  I'd like to think we are a good team in the kitchen.  She cooks; I clean.  I'm going to miss having my wifey around!  *wink*

You know, it's actually easier having a family live with us than visiting us for a few days.  I don't feel like I have to cook or entertain them.  They even have their own fridge and shelves for food in the garage!  And they come and go as they please.

When I tell people that a family of 6 and their pets are staying with us, they ask, "How are things going?" with a sympathetic smile, so I thought I'd share some practical things that help.  It's really not that bad and I am NO special angel as people seem to think!  The biggest thing is that we are all believers in Christ and serve the same heavenly Father.  We strive to live for Him and with Him as the center of our home, all else falls into place.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
As the person who is hosting, I am comfortable with verbalizing my rules and setting boundaries.  And in turn, my guests are very laid back and respectful.  We've both had issues with our kids but we both prioritize discipline and training our children so issues are addressed and we move on.  The kids have been the biggest dynamic just with all their varying ages and personalities.  But we are working through it!

So here are four tips to surviving house guests...

Set boundaries
We are blessed with a three-level home and our guests are living in our basement.  Our bedrooms are all on the top floor, with the common rooms on the main floor.  We told our friends that we wouldn't go in the basement without asking them first and their kids aren't allowed in my children's bedrooms unless my kids are with them.  My older two have definitely appreciated having this boundary and one in particular has needed more alone time than all the children combined!  Tempers start to rise and it's clear a break is needed.  Seven kids ages 10, 8, 7, 5, 5, 2.5 & 11mo is a lot!

Keep it shut
My daughter observed our guests' kids doing something different than the way my kids do it and told me about about it thinking I'd address it.  I told her that it was a parenting issue and not something for me to bring up to their mom.  I will not interfere with the kids doing something that really doesn't concern me, my kids or my home.  Since we are friends, Krista and I have both shared our struggles and we have each offered feedback in conversation so those late night talks have been great, but it's wise to not bring observations up unless the other person mentions it first.
We are living in closer quarters than normal and it's actually makes ya feel kinda vulnerable. She's seen me in a bad mood and before my morning coffee, in my PJs and with bedhead.  haha!  She sees how I feed my kids {which I'm working on improving}, so I'm glad she doesn't criticize me for how I do things.  Nothing worse than walking on eggshells around someone!
Plus it's just not necessary to bring every "little feathers ruffled" thing up.  I always filter my thoughts and if it's something that is minor, I just ignore it.  After all, this is a temporary arrangement and we don't have to find common ground on everything.

Lower expectations
My friend has four kids younger than mine and with that comes a lot more mess, along with my family's mess!  I totally expected this so I clean to keep up but don't get mad it.  It's just how it is and again, it's temporary.  There are definitely more messes from toys, dirt, bathrooms, laundry, etc, but I just clean it knowing that I want my home to be welcoming to them.  I have lowered my expectations and don't get upset about the chaos that is currently my home. {But I remain firm about no shoes in the house!  haha... *singing Oh Canada!*}

Check in
After the first week, we all chatted and I asked how everyone was making out.  We have been doing pretty good so we didn't have much to discuss but I think an open dialogue is wise, just in case there are things to put on the table and work through.

Glass half full
Focus on the positive!  Don't dwell on the other family's faults or shortcomings.  I really care about our friends and their children are a delight.  The 2 year old in particular might be a little shoe thief but his expressions and the way he plays is just so sweet and humorous!
"Where are my flip flops?" *searching for child* "Oh there they are!"
The hardest thing has been with the kids all adjusting.  Friends are between homes and out of their routine and my kids are out of their routines and about to start public school.  So with all the activity in the house, the kids have all had their various issues to work through.  My friend and I see it as great character development!

My daughter loves the baby and is quite the helper!  The house is busier but there is more life under our roof.  More play time. More conversations. More laughs.  I could focus on more messes, more fights, more mischief, but having the opportunity to help our friends out means more than any of that. They are appreciative and we enjoy their company!
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:8-9
So this week is our last week together and I am praying that we have a fun time and end on a good note!  I also pray that my friends' move goes smoothly!  They are really excited about their new home and me too... they have a pool!

{If anyone has survived houseguests and has more advice to share, please leave a comment!  Would love to hear your ideas!}

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