General Etiquette > Family and Children

Preventing the unexpected "drop by"....

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Need some advice on how to avoid future drop-by's-without-calling.  Family recently moved to the area.  Last weekend, we had family drop by without calling first.  We were not home at the time; so missed the visit, but I'd like to nip this one in the bud so that unexpected drop by's do not become a habit.    Any suggestions for wording and how to handle would be greatly appreciated. 

Well in the moment, don't answer the door  :)  Or, grab your purse and do "Oh were you coming over today?  I wish you had called first so I could have told you that I have plans today.  We'll have to schedule a visit for later when we are both free." and then leave.

For preventative measures, the next time that family mentions seeing you, or visiting in general, drop in a quick mention of, "Oh yes, I felt bad that you made that trip to our house and we weren't even home!  We are just so busy these days.  Really, from now on, if you call we can try to schedule at day & time for a visit that will work for us both." 

I was listening to Michael Finney on the radio yesterday, and he stated that there is no reason for people not to call first.  He recommends people not answer the doorbell for security reasons.  As for your relatives, after another wasted trip or two, they'll start calling before showing up.

Maybe you could set the tone by calling them some day this week and asking if it's OK for *you* to drop by next weekend.  That would start the precedent.

Otherwise, I think that you need to grab your purse and be on the way out, as NyaChan suggested.

I presume that Amalthea's father's solution for unwanted guests is not ehell approved, but I'm still chuckling about it.

If someone drops by without warning or asking first, you do not have to let them in the house. It is perfectly polite to stand in the doorway, blocking them from entering and tell them that you are very sorry, but you have plans and unfortunately, there's no time to visit with them, so they have to leave.

Now, in most families, there will be some ramifications from this. You need to balance that fallout with how you give the message. Some people are fine with drop-bys; others are not. So the newly arrived family members might need some training. I would do as NyaChan suggests and bring up the failed drop-by visit and tell them flat-out that drop-by visits don't work for you, and you'd much rather schedule time to see them.

On the flip side, my brother and his family are frantically busy all the time with the kids' weekend activities, and I cannot get them to schedule a visit. "Oh, just drop by!" they say. Well, I'm not driving two hours, one way, on the slim chance that they might be home for 20 minutes. And they complain I never visit them.


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