Summer is just around the corner which means for many of us we are either planning a vacation, weekend getaway, or hosting one. As a family whose home is frequented often by friends and acquaintances, there are a few things I have learned over the years that make hosting a delight, and things that strike dread in my heart as a hostess. So in no particular order, here are seven things I have learned to be the best advice.
1. Parent your children
Even if you are on vacation, your parenting skills shouldn’t be. If your children are traveling with you, it is still your responsibility to tend to their needs, and to govern their actions. Do not make this the responsibility of your host. Do not expect your host to discipline your children, but do allow your host to explain the house rules to both you and your children, and then, abide by them.
Take care of all diapers, potty training, accidents, napping schedules, and behavior modifiers.
Pack what your children need, or make a plan to purchase or acquire their necessities before their needs arise. This includes diapers, wipes,snacks, special foods, clothes, and toys/games.
2. Do not assume your pet is as welcome at the home as you.
Our pets are very precious to us, and so we are often blind to the fact that not everyone wants to vacation with our animal(s). Again, discuss this idea with your host prior to arriving on their doorstep. Treat your pet like your child and follow the same basic guidelines you would when bringing a child to a home. Learn the house rules, and clean up after your pet–(including their deposits in the yard) unless there is a designated bathroom place for your pet. Discipline, exercise, treats, and toys for your pet are your responsibility still.
3. Do not assume everything in the house is yours or up for grabs.
Unless otherwise stated, always ask to use something if it is not yours. Give your host the opportunity to loan you something, or decline the use of their electronics by your toddler. A host will always have things they are willing to share, and extra items for emergencies, and they will graciously offer those things.
4. Do some research ahead of time about the area where you are staying.
Because you are a guest in a home, it is likely your hosts will have responsibilities and timelines they are working with in order to offer good service to you. Plan to do some things on your own. Check out local parks, museums, or theaters. Take walks, or visit stores and sites as a family that do not require your host to lead, or organize. Having some activities planned out ahead of time will be a great way for you to spend family time together, and give your hosts a break and a chance to regroup for the next event. Again, do not expect the host to provide what you will need for your adventures if you have not discussed that prior to the event.
5. Set times for your visits including your day of departure.
It is helpful for both you and your hosts to be able to make their plans and preparations knowing the timeline that you will be staying. Do not say things like “We plan to be here until they throw us out.” Those words give the host nothing to work with in either purchasing for meals, or accommodating in the allotted space, and only leads to frustration and dread. If your host is preparing meals for you and your family, honor the meal times and let them know if you are not going to be there for a particular meal. Staying in communication with your host regarding your schedules is both polite and necessary.
6. Involve yourself in the preparations and clean-ups of shared events.
Many great memories are made “shoulder to shoulder” participating in events together, even cooking and cleaning. Unless you are paying for a cleaning and/or cooking staff included in your visit, plan to be part of the cleaning and meal preparations in the home where you are a guest. Include your children if they are old enough, in setting the table, clearing the table, and general straightening.
7. Say “Please and Thank You”
Politeness goes a long way, and showing appreciation is always a welcome characteristic for both guests and hosts. Manners are never outdated, and help to insure the door will be open for you again the next time you are in town.
What would you add to this list?