This British-American Life’s 5 Rules of Overnight Houseguests

By alborzshawn (Welcome) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By alborzshawn (Welcome) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I have family coming to stay starting tomorrow.  Being that we are pros at hosting people after living in great places to visit, the Boffin and I have condensed this whole thing down to 5 rules that will make life simpler.

1.  If you live with someone, get on the same page and agree to the rules before anyone sets foot past the door.  Look, if your mother wore white to your wedding and clung to your ankles during your first dance, chances are, your wife is not going to think it is going to be a great idea to have your parents over for the weekend without discussing the matter with her.  I wouldn’t blame your wife, if she goes all Lysistrata on you for a month when Mom rings the doorbell.  For the record, the Boffin and I did not have this particular problem, but I know couples who have, and it isn’t pretty.

2.  While getting on the same page, remember there is nothing wrong with a person, if he or she does not like having overnight houseguests at all.  It does not make a person antisocial or weird, just a person who likes personal space.  Conversely, the person who does not like having houseguests can make it easier for the person who does by allowing them, but limiting the time for people to stay. Talk to each other.  Try to respect each others’ viewpoint.  Both of you can work it out.

3.  Enforce those rules once the guests are here.  If you agreed that you only want to host people for three days max, three days it is.  Don’t undercut your partner, and make exceptions without mutual agreement, even if Elaine wants to stay longer, and you haven’t seen her since you graduated from college.  Elaine’s voice has a cicada quality makes your husband’s innards turn to gelatin.  Partner trumps guest.

4.  The only things you need to provide your guests are clean and comfortable places to eat, sleep, sit, and poop.  Provide meals and hospitality too, but you don’t stress yourself out trying to be Martha Stewart to do that.  Forget about the pile of clothes you have to go through.  Don’t worry about the mounds of paper on the desk.  Remember they are coming to see you, and you are doing them a favor by providing them room and board.  If they are going to judge the state of your house, and give it the white glove test, tell them to get cracking, and clean it themselves.  Or they can leave, and show them the door.  Life is too short to put up with rude houseguests, and nobody is going to give you points, if you martyr yourself.

5.  If the timing and the arrangements do not work for you, be honest.  There are these wonderful places called hotels where your guests can spend money and get their own rooms.  They even have beds, showers, and toilets.  You can meet them for meals and all the fun touristy things.  It’s better to be frank than try to host people, be resentful, and cause friction.  And if they don’t understand, that’s their problem, not yours.

It’s your home, not the Hilton.  Remember, no one is going to rate you on TripAdvisor.

18 thoughts on “This British-American Life’s 5 Rules of Overnight Houseguests

  1. So how many days can you put up with us? We’re considering an invasion of Illinois next summer….Griswold-style road trip in the big red fire engine…You have been warned!

    Love number 4. You know the usual state of our place. Anytime a pile moves, disappears or is actually cleaned up, I accuse M of putting on airs.

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  2. Wonderfully sensible list, Karen. FYI, my dear wife Karen and I decided on the Little Bitty, two bedrooms, one bath, and terribly inconvenient for any houseguests. We’ve had just a few who’ve said, oh, we don’t mind small. No repeaters, as charming as we are.

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    1. Little Bitty sounds wonderful for YDW, Karen and you.

      You have to go either way when buying a house: too small for houseguests or large enough to be sure all of you have your own spaces. If you do that awkward medium size, you just end up annoying each other.

      We have the split-level with the guest room on the top level and our room in the basement. People can retreat and have their own space. It certainly makes for much happier visits.

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      1. You did well for the Boffin, the Sprog and your peace of mind, Karen. Nice. MDW Karen and I each had big houses in our previous lives and knew together we were ready for the small one and this: less house to clean, lawn to mow, taxes to pay, years on the mortgage, columns before the decimal on the annual tax bill … And we love the Little Bitty, as the cherry on top.

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    1. Would you be able to explain something to me, Dana? I have noticed the people in this area have a tendency to lean toward arachnophobia. At least, they are quite vocal about it. Being a native, would you be able to shed some light on it?

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      1. We have a lot of spiders here, (among other things) because of the forest preserves. As a kid, most of us in my neighborhood had to deal with them crawling on us at night while we sleep, especially in summer when windows are open, and those tiny red bumps you get from the bites. Obviously no where near as bad as mosquitoes, as far as itchiness, but more of a creepiness factor. The webs can be irritating to your skin, too, and you are never sure if you got it all off of you!

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        1. I see. That makes sense. We never had that issue where I grew up. Common household spiders were pretty innocuous, and the forests were a few miles away. Imagine moving here without any point of reference, and people talking and freaking out about spiders without letting you in on the reason. It makes the natives look like weirdos.

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  3. When we moved to Florida the Canadians rubbed their hands with GLEE. There were many visits those days, the longest of which was about 25 days, and during that visit we had 7 guests at a high point. We actually hit the road for about 17 days of the visit, which worked out perfectly because they watched the house and pets while we went on vacation!

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