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Author Topic: How to enforce house rules with guests?  (Read 15916 times)

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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2013, 05:50:57 PM »
POD that your DH needs to call them ahead of time and get them to commit to an arrival and departure date.
Be honest and tell them that the ambiguity does not work for you and has not worked in the past, and after several visits this way he feels compelled to set these things straight so that this visit is ENJOYABLE FOR EVERYONE.  Without this information you can not shop, plan meals and make other scheduled plans, so they need to state their dates NOW.

He should also ask them what kind of food they want.  If MIL likes to cook then ask her ahead of time if she would like to make meals herself and if so, how often. What meals, so you can buy the ingredients.  If she likes to cook, let her.  Give yourself a break. But try to make the plan ahead of time and if they prefer certain food then buy it for them instead of wasting your money on things they won't eat.

For the TV, see if you can fiddle with the settings.  Usually there are child-locks on the remotes so you can set certain channels and also volume.  See if your TV allows this.  Otherwise pull a cable out of the back of one of them and tell them that one is broken and you haven't had a chance to call the cable guy yet.

For the bath, I like the suggestion of leaving small assortment of sample size shampoos for them.  Keep your good stuff to yourself.  Hide it in your room in a closet until they are gone. 

For the broken things, is your FIL handy?  Point out the broken things from last time, hand him a tool box and ask if he can fix this while he's visiting because "he's so handy!"  Put him to work!

As for the interrupting and rude comments, I say bean dip or ignore.  My favorite technique is to make a game out of it.  Give yourself points for every rude comment or insult/criticism.  Keep a tally and reward yourself when it's all over.  The more points you get, the bigger the reward.  If you and DH make a game out of it, it could take the edge off of their cloddish ways and turn a negative into a positive.  Treat yourself to dinner out, or a present, movie tix, etc.   Have different prizes for each points level so that the best prize is for the most points so you can reward yourself well if they really get out of control!

As to their expectations once they are there, keep a shopping list on the fridge and add those items to the list and say "I'm adding it to the list for you.  I'll take you to the store later so you can get them, okay?"  If possible, try to trick them like saying "Dad, mom said she needs X,Y and  Z.  I can take you to the store now to get them for her if you want." or vice versa.  Put the onus on them.  DO NOT let them know you 're going shopping for yourself if possible so they can't entrap you into picking up things for them. 


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2013, 05:56:24 PM »
Rather than asking them for dates, I'd tell them what their options were. 

We can host you from Date W to Date X or from Date Y to Date Z.  If they are flexible enough to move their dates around every couple of days then they can move them around to fit within the dates you give them.

Make it uncomfortable to them to stay with you.  So every time they do something that you don't like, make it clear that you are unhappy.  This goes for both you and your hubby.  If the TV is too loud, take the remote and turn it down.  If people start shouting, give them a puzzled look and ask why they are so upset.  If they are looking for food, give them directions to the nearest grocery store.  And if you get a phone call from them about getting them something from store while you are out, ignore it.  With food, go ahead and make what you want.  If they don't want to eat it, then you have leftovers.

Be a squeaky wheel about cleaning up behind themselves.  Every single time they leave something laying around, make sure you mention it.  The first 2-3 times YOU are annoyed, after that it becomes fun to see their expression each time you bug them.  If you have to, stand in front of the TV while you ask and look around innocently  >:D

I don't know how your house is set up, but if you have a separate bathroom from theirs, then you should lock your door when you leave the house and keep it closed when they you are home. If you share a bathroom, then it may make sense to bring your stuff in and out with you when you go to shower.

When you leave to go somewhere ask if they want to go with you and if the answer is no..go on about your business. Basically don't stop living your life, just because they are there.  Definitely offer to do things with them, but just because they want to hang out at home doesn't mean you have to do the same.

Oh and on the last day they are there, make plans to leave the house and be gone for at least 4 hours.  That way you can shoo them out the door with you and come home to a nice peaceful home


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2013, 07:11:05 PM »
I don't really have anything to add, except that I have a cousin who is kind of similar. She just sort of comes in, and takes over. My mom used to have 2 guestrooms in her old house, but now just has one. Which doubles as my room when I"m there, and has very little space as the bed is a bit large, and the room is kind of small.

So she came overnight while I was there for hte holidays, and her habits include dropping all her stuff whereever, and not caring that its in the way. She will also root through the kitchen, and eat whatever she finds, to the point that mom and I have to hide certain things while she's there, unless we want them gone!

She slept on an air mattress, and complained about it, when mom lives in a tourist area, and there are PLEntY of hotels within minutes.

And this, which I know is petty, but still irks me. She uses something on her face, that stains or bleaches, so she's always asking if we have an old towel or washcloth we don't care about. If you know what you use stains, bring your own!!!  That's what I would do.


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2013, 08:08:43 PM »
Regarding the guest toiletries - the basket thing is absolutely something I would normally do and have out. However, on that specific visit, we had just moved to a brand new house and they came to stay only a few weeks after we moved in... frankly, guest soaps weren't top of my priority list.  :-\ Then when they saw we didn't have any, they got quite indignant. So now I'm conflicted between doing what I wanted to in the first place (setting up a proper guest bath with lotions, shampoos, etc) or standing my ground. Now if set up guest toiletries (which I agree is lovely!), am I caving to demands?

An important question! I think it can go either way. You could do what you think is best, gracious, and considerate, without worrying about whether they approve or not. The disadvantage is that when this aligns with what they've badgered you about, they'll think they've won, and won't have incentive to change their behavior. Or, you could try to teach them that badgering you will not get them what they want, and refuse to provide something if they bug you rudely about it. The disadvantage here is that you always have to be alert to their negativity and respond to it, instead of letting it roll off.


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2013, 08:35:31 PM »
My thought process on the whole toiletries situation is to wait after they've come to visit a few times and they are accustomed to NOT having them, and so that they know that I didn't put them BECAUSE they told me to. After they can go a whole trip without saying anything about it, then I will reward them with a basket of toiletries.   :D

Thanks to all for the great input!!! I'm feeling better already.


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2013, 08:40:52 PM »
Re: bathroom toiletries:
I think every bathroom in a house (once you're settled, of course) should have its own soap at both sink AND shower/tub and its own basic shampoo/conditioner. It doesn't have to be "guest soaps" or something fancy--it can simply be everyday supplies. (I think it's best if it is--your home will feel less like a hotel.) The reason those things are there, actually, is for the benefit of the homeowners. Visitors just get to use some of yours.

Then there's no need for anyone to look for those things or to move them from one shower to another.

For a lot of the other stuff, just speak up calmly.

"I'm sorry, I've hit the wall with the television--I need to have it off now."

"Our living room is getting messy--would you all pick things up now?"

For food, when family is visiting for more than a day, I think groceries are a group concern, so say things like, "We didn't stock our pantry for visitors--would you like directions to the grocery store so you can pick up some food?"

If you find stuff broken, your DH should call and say, "Hey, we discovered that our rocking chair has a big scratch on it. Who did that?" And then say, "You know, it's our stuff. The *least* you can do is tell us when accidents happen. But we'd like you to treat our things a little more kindly."

Treat them like 8yos--old enough to do things independently but not necessarily old enough to be thoroughly thoughtful about what they leave undone or what ways they are being inconsiderate. Be direct but calm. Educational, without passing judgment on them. They just don't know; it didn't occur to them.

All these things may make them feel a little less comfortable in your home. Win! They won't visit as often.

And if they get indignant, that does NOT mean that they are right.


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2013, 09:21:58 PM »
All these things may make them feel a little less comfortable in your home. Win! They won't visit as often.



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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2013, 09:27:53 PM »
May I also suggest printing and framing this photo, and hanging it in a very conspicuous place?


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2013, 10:14:50 PM »
None of the OP's problem equals "enforcing house rules" ... it's really "expecting adult behavior from adult guests". These antics violate even the most basic definition of courtesy.
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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2013, 12:10:46 AM »
If they are going to act like unmannerly children, you are justified in treating them as such and "child-proofing" your home.

Do not scold or reprimand, this will only put them on the defensive and they can play the PA/victims who "aren't wanted."

Use moments that upset you as "teaching moments". Be cheerful but firm. Speak as if you assume they have the best of intentions and are only in need of a little guidance. Make sure actions (and inactions) have consequences. Tell, don't ask. Give them choices - your choices.

"Oh I'm sorry you didn't get in touch with us sooner but since we didn't know when you would be coming we can't host you - here is the number of the [wonderful nearby hotel] and I've Googled driving directions."

"Oh I notice you are rummaging through my things - what can I help you find? X? No, we don't have it/that isn't available but I'm sure [nearest store] carries a wide selection."

"I assumed you would be asking me about this sooner or later and I thought I would make it easy for you: here is a list of items you used/broke/lost during your time here, just let me know which ones you plan on replacing."

It is your house. Don't negotiate. Tell them how it is...just say it with a smile. >:D
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
-William Shakespeare

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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2013, 09:53:09 AM »
Another question just occurred to me.  What is it like when THEY have overnight guests?  Do THEY have house rules? 


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2013, 02:12:22 PM »
hmmm.. good question. We have stayed with them a few times, but I think things went smoothly. I honestly don't think we behave in a way where they'd need to enforce rules, if you know what I mean. Like I NEVER would go through their cupboards- I ask before I take so much as a glass of water. I bring my own personal affects when I travel, I don't expect them to provide.. so if I was just to take something, I don't know what would happen. I know I've been bored watching TV at their place before, but at their own place I figure its their choice to have it on or not.


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2013, 03:10:09 PM »
Is it a bad thing to admit that I just ordered "All I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum, as a result of reading this topic?  (on eBay, less than $5 for the item&s/h)


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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2013, 02:11:09 PM »
Is there any way to find out what happened when THEIR parents came to visit them?   It would be interesting to know if the grands rode rough shod over the parents the way the parents are riding rough shod over the OP and her husband.  Is there a huge economic disparity going on between generations, so that things the parents assume will be find and dandy cause hardship to OP and her husband?  Where the parents used to servants so they have no habit of picking up after themselves?  Or is there a culture of the elders ALWAYS being right, no matter what they do?
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Re: How to enforce house rules with guests?
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2013, 03:33:55 PM »
Some of it might be a relational thing.  For instance, when we visit my in-laws, we would get food/drink for ourselves out of their fridge or pantry, and they would do the same at our place.  Usually we invite each other to do so, but it's also the kind of relationship that we have.  So that one doesn't seem so very egregious, just because it's sometimes the way thing is done with family, and maybe if they are told that it isn't welcome, they'll stop.
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