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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Overnight Guests Anyone?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Overnight Guests Anyone?


With the holidays coming up, some of us are going to have overnight guests. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. How it pans out for you and your family, boils down to your attitude and preparation. Here's how to make sure your houseguests are low hassle...or as hassle-free as you can make the experience.....it also wouldn't hurt to make them comfortable and happy guests, because a happy guest is one who doesn't complain and won't tell the rest of your circle of friends or relatives that you are a bad, bad host! But on the other hand, if you are known as the bad host and you don't like company....well, let's focus on the good here...

Before your guest arrives:

  • Gotta hash out the sleeping arrangements. Is Junior giving up his room or are you lucky enough to have a guest room? How many guests will you have, and do you need to get out the sleeping bags and air mattresses? Make sure everyone has a place to rest their head.
  • Have you actually slept where your guest will sleep? I know it sounds like a dumb question, but it helps to put yourself in your guest's shoes. Is the area a quiet and private place? Or as much as you can make it so? A well rested guest is a happy guest.
  • Have easy bathroom access. Don't send them down to the basement if their sleeping area is upstairs. Have their toilet place somewhere nearby. If you have to switch your kids' bathroom or something else, then do it. If you have only one bathroom, be sure to clean it and declutter it. The bathroom is how guests tend to gauge you as a person...fair or not. Cleanliness and orderliness of bathrooms and kitchens are a top priority when having people over, even if only for a day...or be known as the slob of the family or the talk of the town.
  • Have an end date for their visit. This is EXTREMELY important. Do whatever you have to do to get them commit to a day when they plan to leave. Make sure you put it on a calendar (their arrival too) in plain sight, so they know you mean business. You know the old saying about fish and guests....it's true. Don't let them overstay their welcome.
  • Find out about any special needs or wants. Does someone have food allergies or are they allergic to pets...and you have one? If they collect stamps and there is a stamp show in your area, get that information for them. Be a good host, and go the extra step to make the visit memorable..and not a disaster should they need something you can't provide.

Some items you might want to think of providing:

  • An alarm clock with a luminous dial. I know I hate to be in a strange place, where I can't wake up and immediately see what time it is. Most houseguests have insomnia or a derivative thereof when they first arrive. Don't have them wandering around the house in the dark wondering what time it is.
  • Extra blankets or comforter and two pillows. Most guests don't want to bother you and will shiver through the night before asking for a blanket. Many like to read and prop themselves up with two pillows...wouldn't it be nice if all that stuff was already there for them?
  • A place to put their suitcase. I once found a nice luggage rack at a yardsale, which spent it's non-working days folded up in the guest closet. You may not have that opportunity, so please keep some floor space free. If you have a cedar chest or a low table, that can work too. Guests tend to be as neat as their environment, and if you help them with a place to set their stuff up, it will earn high marks and should keep the place orderly.
  • Extra hangers in the closet. Again, most guests won't ask and will be perturbed their stuff is getting wrinkled or your cat is using their neat clothes pile as a cat bed. Why do all cats do this? Most guests won't say anything, so be one step ahead of them.
  • A small dish on a dresser or table. They can put all their little items in there without getting them lost. I have searched for enough lost earrings in my time.
  • A little table by the bed or mattress with a reading lamp. I personally didn't like putting my stuff on the floor when I was a guest. The host dog would always lie all over my stuff, or I would step on my watch when I suddenly woke up in the morning..plus, where do I put my alarm clock and stuff I need right away after I get up...not to mention the water glass I just knocked over. Most guests also like to read a little before going to sleep. It defeats the purpose of getting warm, tired and snuggly if I have to get up and walk over to turn off the light that didn't provide enough light to read by in the first place.
  • Their own set of towels and washcloth. I would suggest giving them the nicest, fluffiest fare you have. It makes them feel welcome and wouldn't this be something you would like yourself?
  • A small basket or bowl of hotel toiletry leftovers. My husband travels a lot. He brings home tons of this stuff. I like to make a little basket of all the necessities with lotions, shampoo, soaps and such. I then add some other stuff he typically doesn't bring home such as toothbrushes and paste.
  • Have a stack of travel brochures. You know the ones you see in hotels or in restaurants by the highway? There are see-worthy things in your area. You can also visit your local AAA (you don't have to be a member to go inside and pick up brochures) or your local tourist bureau or Chamber of Commerce. I like to keep them nicely arranged in a basket in their room.
  • A key or code. This really makes your guest feel welcome and also encourages them to do some exploring on their own (that is if they drove or if you live in a city with good transportation). This'll let them know it's okay for them to get out on their own and that you think they're responsible enough and care about them enough to return on their own. You'll get some much needed breathing room too. If you don't know them too well, then either make sure someone is home when they return or lock away your valuables. If you don't trust them at all, then they have no business in your home to begin with.

After your guest has arrived:

  • Make them feel welcome but don't be overbearing. You are still going to have your household routine that needs getting done...so do it. Include your guest in your family daily activities but ALWAYS give them the option of doing their own thing at all times. Provide them the resources such as guidance, food and transportation, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  • Show them where the laundry room is. Unless they are really close family members...where a lot of this stuff might not apply, expect your guests to do their own laundry. If you show them where that stuff is and how to use it, they'll realize you are not going to be their maid and cleaning lady.
  • Make a few of their favorite foods and have their favorite snacks around. This is just the cost of hospitality. Make them feel welcome.
  • Enjoy your time with them but know that if things go wrong, it's only temporary. You may never see Aunt Gladys again, and she'll be talking about this visit for years to come, should she be around that long. Family is oh so important, and it's important for the kids to see this is how it should be done. Friends should also keep in touch, and this is the perfect opportunity to catch up. If things don't work out as you had hoped, or things are just going badly, take comfort in that this too is fleeting. You can last through the visit and remind yourself that you only have x amount of days left, so just grin and bear it. You'll think better of yourself if you approach it this way rather than blowing your top or getting resentful. After they're gone, you can go back to your routine and the bad memories will fade, while the good memories will grow stronger. That's the way God intended it!
What do you do to get ready for guests and to make them feel welcome?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article came just in time!

November 19, 2007 at 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Sabine Pyrchalla said...

Great Tips. Here in Colorado, small packets of Tylenol and bottles of water are a must. The Altitude can be hard to get used to...and having water bottles in the guest room is a quick reminder to keep hydrated.

Sabine Pyrchalla
http://www.USArmyPCS.com

November 20, 2007 at 6:58 AM  

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