Why oh Why do you Come?

Our house is just us. The nuclear AWOL Family is alone after a solid month of in-home company. Granted, the first three weeks were my mom and some dad time, but the most recent week we hosted my husband’s aunt and uncle. After these bouts of quasi-hospitality I find myself sitting in my quiet kitchen flabbergasted and wondering… “why would anyone come to visit us?” Most days were so loud, both 60+ men that stayed with us repeatedly stepped on toys and were awoken by a bossy shrieking 20-month old. The showers ran out of hot water and I kept getting caught off guard with lunch serving and had to make several ill-timed trips to the grocery store.

I understand that people would like to keep in touch with our burgeoning family, and I have made it fairly obvious that long road-trips to other cities to see family are difficult and expensive for us at this point. I guess I have left them no choice? But HOW? In all honesty, I am b-a-r-e-l-y thriving in this lifestyle. I feel that I feed everyone well, we are teaching the faith, we get outside a ton, we spend more time together as a family than most and I am cobbling together a decent home education for the eldest two. But, when it gets beyond that, I feel like I am standing on shaky scaffolding. How can I become more comfortable with people in my home? I felt like I was always whisking the shrieking baby away to some corner. I was shushing my children too much, I wasn’t able to read e-mail for a week, and figuring out meals for everyone was a disaster. The homeschooling was haphazard and we are now quite behind, the guests wanted to do unrealistic things (picture a Kohl’s shopping trip in which each kid was given a budget for a gift, and these are children who have never set foot in a department store in their lives).

Me “homeschooling”

I don’t mean to complain, seriously, I want to be constructive here. I love my mom, I love my Aunt Linda and Uncle Mark. These are probably the three people in the world who love our children nearly as much as us, so why do I feel so inhospitable.  Why do these people want to stay in this madhouse, and how responsible am I for taming the insanity when we have visitors come?

  • Donna

    What an honest post this is- and any mom knows what you mean. I was thinking two things- 1) while I always host people in my home a close friend of mine has just decided that for this season of life guests need to stay at the Embassy Suites by their house. She made this point clear by getting rid of the guest room. When her parents come in town they stay at the hotel and have some space and miss the morning screaming-baby wake up call. Then they get the joy of watching some or all of the grandkids swim in the indoor pool which is a treat for everyone. I think the big kids even sleep at the hotel with the grandparents. (not an option for all of us- but it seems to work well for them) 2) When my aunt came in town last time (and our guests always stay in our home) I hired a sitter and took her out to lunch and my favorite antique store one day just to put some space in the situation. Once I got a sitter just for the baby and we all took the older children to a science center and watched an IMAX. In my world, the worst thing that can happen is the baby not nap well- he’s moody when he’s not tired- if he’s “off schedule” we are all going to suffer. So if I can find a sitter to handle nap time while we get out and about with the family it’s a win/win. And when my mom used to come for extended visits I would sometimes let her take the babies up to the park at the end of the street and try to get some good homeschooling in while she was gone for an hour. OR I’ve done the reverse and let her stay and work with the children doing school and taken the babies out myself. I’m SURE your family loved their time with you and felt the hospitality you were trying to extend to them. It’s just hard to host for long periods of time no matter how you do it!

    • AWOL_Mommy

      Donna, I appreciate your empathy and super constructive feedback, thank you for making the time

  • Kat0427

    AWOL, I have often wondered the same thing! There was one year that we hosted Thanksgiving in freezing cold Chicago, I just had a new baby and developed mastitis because I was trying to be super-hostess, and several people developed terrible colds from walking in the freezing rain. I was convinced that no one would ever come back, but they did! I learned my lesson, though – everyone is happier when the host family can be somewhat relaxed.
    This year, I am hosting Christmas for a fairly small group, and the family members coming are very low-key about meals and sleeping arrangements. So, I am going to try to be low key, too!

  • J’

    I have found myself stressed with only one little one when we have people visit, so I’m amazed at you hosting for that long! I think Donna’s comments were really helpful above. Something that popped into my head though as I was reading was perhaps make it clear what your personal schedule is for the kids, and if it changes day to day, write it out ala Bethany (her post was helpful a few days ago!), so that everyone, including guests, know the lay of the land. Then there aren’t any surprises and you don’t feel bad…they can leave and go see something local for an afternoon if they want while you are homeschooling, etc., and you’ve provided them with the exact time that would be good to plan to do so. On meals, especially lunch and breakfast, if you are ok with being more casual, let guests know to help themselves to x,y, or z, and then you can concentrate on your normal lunch routine? Then you’d only have to plan on dinners, and could gear yourself up for something that takes minimal prep (or that you have frozen in advance and can just pop in the oven?).


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