To My Children’s House I Go & Stay: 10 Commandments of How to be a Good Guest

Dear Son,

This is going to sound gutsy, but I need to get away. And I have decided to visit you in Montreal. May I stay at your place? I hope you’re not cringing. You’re probably wondering why I won’t book a hotel room, but you did offer to let me stay with you. So, I’m taking you up on your kind offer.  

Does this sound familiar? Many of you are probably nodding “yes.” So, it got me thinking, if you’re going to be a house guest in your children’s homes, what are the rules to follow?

First off, I subscribe to the golden rule of house guesting. Make your stay a short one.  As the saying goes: Guests and fish start to smell after three days, especially if you start to become judgmental of their apartment or home or any of their friends. A visit with the kids and staying in their space is meant to be enjoyed.

Here are my 10 commandments for making this situation as pleasant as possible so you’ll be asked back:  

  1. That shalt make the bed in the morning.
  2. Thou shalt not leave the bathroom in a shambles. After taking a shower or brushing your teeth, wipe up the spills and, yes, it’s gross, any hair that’s fallen on the floor and in the sink and tub are removed, pronto.
  3. Thou shalt ask how to work the oven and microwave, if you can put something in their refrigerator, how to turn on the shower, where the keys are kept or if you can have an extra key, and how to operate an alarm if there is one.
  4. Thou shalt try to remember to turn off lights, lock doors, not leave the oven or stove on.
  5. Thou shalt not eat them out of house and home. Do the grocery shopping and get, at the very least, eggs, milk, bread and other staples. If you’re planning to cook a nice dinner at home, buy the food and offer to help cook. Don’t forget a hello-I’m here gift such as a cozy afghan or bottles of wine—for drinking together and stashing away.
  6. Thou shalt not expect to be waited on. This is not a restaurant or hotel. Volunteer to set the table, get up and clear the dishes, wash them, dry them, put them away. Ask how you can help.
  7. Thou shalt take your kids out while you’re there to treat them and give them a break from their usual routine.
  8. Thou shalt replenish anything you use such as their shampoo, Kleenex or any foods.
  9. Thou shalt always do things on your own to give your kids some space. They are not your personal Uber service. Try to get around by either taking public transportation, a cab, drive share or walking.
  10. Thou shalt return the extra key and offer to strip the bed and empty the trash can you used before you leave.

After your stay and once safely ensconced in your own home, thou shalt send a thank-you email, handwritten note  or gift. The gift will remind them of you and the fact that you weren’t the house guest from hell like Sinbad in the movie by the same name. Hopefully at some point in the not too distant future, you’ll hear them say, “Hey mom, when will you be coming back? We can’t wait.”  






1 comment

  • Webme

    This may be a cultural thing. In Asian cultures elders are King (and Queen) so we bend over backwards to host our parents and wait on them. Make them feel loved, cared for, give them a rest, and never expect anything in return:) They spent many years caring for us so now it is out turn to show them love and be a great host. We also give them the best of everything: best bed, best food, clean bathroom, free products, etc. We would never dream of asking them to pay for anything, help with chores, or pay for what they eat or use.

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