Having guests overstay their welcome is never a pleasant thing. Here’s what to do, when guests just don’t get the hint and go home!
Set boundaries. Prevention is the key. Before anyone actually lands on your doorstep, let them know how long you’re willing to have them stay in your home. Decide as a family and then be clear and direct in your communication.
You might say ‘Sure, we’d love to see you. We’re available tomorrow until 6 p.m.’ Or, if it’s an overnight guest, say ‘Yes, please come and stay with us, we’d love to have you for two days.’ That way, everyone knows the parameters.
Appreciate your guests when they are behaving well.
If they help with the dishes or offer to watch your kids, thank them. Successful relationships have a 5 to 1 ratio of appreciations to criticisms and yes, that includes your relationship with your mother-in-law!
She might be a beast, but the more you can find to appreciate about her, the easier it will be for you to be in the same room together.
Hold your ground. It’s so easy once someone is actually planted on your couch for them to stay longer than you planned. If they try to stay longer than you agreed, kindly let them know it’s time to go. You might say ‘It’s been a great visit and our time together is already up. Thanks so much for being a great guest and keeping to our schedule. See you next year.’
Expect huffy displays of ‘Who do you think you are!’ Lots of people expect others to forego their own wishes to make them happy. But only you can create your own happiness and you must. People who want to push the boundaries of others often get upset and create drama. In this way, they feel they have power in their lives. By creating clear boundaries and sticking to them, you are demonstrating real power, a skill they may not have, which can feel threatening to them. They may feel hurt or they may feel scared. Let them have their feelings without trying to rescue them.
Choose to honor yourself and your family for creating exactly what you all wanted. Find a way to celebrate after the guest has gone. Share with each other the things that felt hard or scary and those that were wonderful and empowering.
Tips When individuals within a family have differing wishes for the length of stay, it’s best to go with the lowest number of days. For example, if the wife’s mother is coming and the wife says ‘Oh she can stay for a week’ but the husband says, ‘Uh, I think I could only handle two days.’ Go with the lowest number of days and find ways for the wife and her mother to get together outside of the home, during the additional days. Maybe the mother stays with other family or in a hotel and she and her daughter go shopping.
Do your best to keep your sense of humor. When drunk Uncle Bert starts slobbering and telling dirty jokes in front of the kids, find a way to laugh as you escort him out the door or at least out to the garage.
Speaking of Uncle Bert, list the house rules and post them: no smoking, no drinking to the point of slobbering, no peeing on the front bushes, anyone who criticizes has to do the dishes AND say five appreciations of the person they criticized, Anyone who asks Jane why she isn’t married yet has to sing an entire love song! When someone breaks the rules, just point to your list and smile.