Our family has been in a transitive state since the beginning of August. We moved from central Australia back home to the US. We spent a few weeks visiting family in one part of the country before heading to the south where we will call home for the next few years. Of course, now we have to find a place to actually find a place to set down our roots. So we are staying with a family friend. The kids have had the hardest time with the constant movement. As a parent you have to smile and act like it is all well and good. You’re pointing out the positives while internally screaming the same complaints as the 6 year old. As much as we love our family and friends, it still isn’t our home. Routines aren’t exactly what we are used to. The “you’re welcome as long as you want/need” and “make yourself at home” is heartfelt and appreciated, but their home is not my home. It just is not.
Living with others is hard work. Whether it is with in-laws, relatives, or close family friends extended stays have the potential to be total nightmares. Living with others is Rough. Yes, with a capital R. When you have a whole family to guide through the craziness things can get… well… It’s not always good. Here are some tips I have come up with after being out of a place to truly call my own in nearly two months.
This should go without saying. I find that being respectful and showing gratitude for my hosts for welcoming my family into their home is the most important thing I can do to show my appreciation. It is just as hard on our hosts to accommodate us. Not only has our own schedule and routines been thrown to the wind, so has theirs. Respect is one of the easiest things to give someone. It costs nothing, and means a hell of a lot more than just about anything you can buy.
This isn’t a Hotel
Yes, this one is fine line. While on a vacation there are things to do and see. Sleeping in or chilling on the couch can wait until I’m back at home. Being able to explore a new place is part of vacation!
House hunting also has certain demands that will have one out more often than not as well. I guess it goes back to being respectful, but the host didn’t offer a bed to crash on, they’ve offered a home.
It can be hard though to balance the home and away time. Make sure to plan things out with hosts to make things easier for both parties. Will dinner be in the home or out? When cooking in the home, be sure to see if there are any dietary limitations or allergies to be aware of. Finding out what is expected when living with someone is vital. Sharing the housekeeping is something I feel is essential. Especially when the extended stay in another’s home is for some sort of house hunting purpose money could be tight, or pooling for home buying. Staying for no monetary compensation, however, is presumptuous. The bills will inflate accordingly. Sitting with the host to agree on duties and rent is vital to make sure there will not be any hard feelings when it is time to part ways.
Simply picking up after myself and having the family do the same has been helpful. With a baby and young child, almost any room in the house can go from very put together to looking like a tornado went through in a matter of seconds. I like to make sure that the family’s odds and ends are at the very least put back into our room, if not put away properly before we leave the house for any reason, or at the end of the day before bed. Taking dishes from the table to the sink after mealtimes is also a habit that I have tried to instill in my children both as a guest and in our own home. Meticulously cleaning up the dishes as soon as we are done with them is also something that I find myself doing.
Find moments to just be a family. Routines are out of whack. Temporary routines are in place to get everyone by. Being in a house that is not our own home, and no one is able to truly relax is difficult. Stress levels are high. I find myself taking offense to small inconsequential things more often. We try to make time to be together as a family in our room to goof off, cuddle, or whatever it is that the children (and ourselves, too) need. When I am getting snappy I do some breathing exercises. I am taking long walks. I am doing things to make sure that I am taking time to just be. I am encouraging my family to do the same.
Communication is key to every relationship. When living with people it is so so important to keep lines of communication open. Making sure to let my host know when I have a problem or if they have an issue it is important to tackle those problems right away. Letting small issues fester without being addressed will only lead to resentment and hard feelings. Things happen, if something happens to the home, or property that is directly a result of our family I bring it up immediately. With children and a dog, it is easy for something to break. I do not hide it. I make sure to let my host know. If the item needs to be fixed, or replaced we make sure it is done. Owning a mistake is something I believe in no matter the circumstance is. I don’t want to leave this home with an ended friendship. I want to leave with the relationship intact.
It is not an easy thing, living with someone else. What are some things that you have found to make things easy when visiting or living with someone?