I have an old roommate who I keep in touch with on facebook and occasional phonecalls, but life has taken us in different directions over the past 7 years and I moved away from London and she got married and has daughters aged 2 and 4.
Anyway, she recently phoned and asked if they could stay with me overnight as they were attending a wedding near me in 10 days time. I said yes, of course, then she asked if actually, could they stay for two nights - The night before and after the wedding, the whole weekend? Again, yes, that was fine, it would be lovely to see them, it really would. I had last seen the oldest child when she was less than 2 and not met the youngest at all.
I don't have children and don't have any experience of looking after toddlers. Now, please don't think I'm anti kids, I think they're hilarious and can be very cute, it's just not a part of my life and out of my comfort zone.
So, I made up the spare double room for my friend and her husband and cleared the box room and made up a single bed in there for the 4 year old and there was just about enough space for the travel cot for the 2 year old with a bit of a squeeze. I also bought a few bits and pieces I thought the kids might eat and figured I could pop to the corner shop in an emergency, but my friend had said she would pretty much bring everything they needed and not to worry about that.
On arriving on Friday night, after being shown to their rooms and helping unload the car I asked what they wanted to do for dinner. I could cook, or we could get takeout etc. She asked if I had something to feed the children first and so I dug out some beans on toast, made that and the kids were fed and bathed and put to bed. Not before her asking to please borrow a mattress protector as the 4 year old wets the bed (I don't have one, so had to supply garbage bags and towels under the sheet and hope for the best). I then got takeout for the three of us and offered to open a bottle of wine but they declined. It was almost 9pm by the time we got to eat and they went to bed not long after 10pm due to the long drive etc. I showed them where everything was before they went to bed, made sure they had towels and everything they needed and told them to help themselves to anything if the kids got up super early and were fussing etc.
Saturday morning the kids got up at 5.45am. Help! I heard them all go downstairs (parents and kids) and put the tv on so I went back to sleep for a bit and then went down at 7.30am. There was half eaten cereal in bowls around the room, squashed food (grapes and bits of cereal) all over the table, my cat was hiding under a chair, all the sofa cushions had been piled into the middle of the floor and were being jumped on and there was an incredible stench of pee. I checked they had everything they needed, put on some fresh coffee, then quietly took my friend aside to ask if there had been a toilet accident, or perhaps it was my cat, which was very new and maybe got scared and maybe I should check for a puddle? She said she couldn't smell anything and I must be very sensitive to smells. It was a stench! Turned out to be a very wet nappy.
Eventually they took the kids upstairs to get ready to go out so I stayed downstairs out of the way as there is only one bathroom/toilet. Once they were ready to go they headed off for the day for the wedding and I washed up, wiped the surfaces and put all the cushions back etc (and a bunch of ornaments and little things that I found scattered around the place) and was finally able to get out of my pjs and robe! Later in the day I heard the cat scrabbling around and went into their room to find 3 dirty and stinky nappies in a loosely tied plastic bag on the floor and the stench of pee was incredible in the room. I put them in the bin outside and opened the window. I couldn't believe they would just leave them on my bedroom floor?!
They arrived back at 9pm that evening and put the kids straight to bed. We chatted for around an hour or so and it was really nice to catch up with them, but they were understandably tired and went to bed around 10.30pm.
Sunday morning was a replay of saturday morning. The kids were up before 6am and my friend's DH went downstairs with them. I went down a little after 7am as it was pretty noisey and I also felt guilty for not being more welcoming/hostessy. Remains of food were everywhere, cushions were all piled in the middle of the floor and one child was swinging the draft excluder around her head and threatening to knock things off shelves. I chatted to my friend's DH for a while, helped the kids with some colouring etc and then my friend came down around 9am. The snow was getting quite heavy and the forecast for London was worse so they started talking about leaving and heading home soon. Then my friend said she felt a bit bad because we hadn't really seen each other all weekend and kind of left it hanging. I felt like she wanted permission to leave and for me to say it wasn't rude, and because of the bad weather etc I honestly felt they should leave sooner rather than later so I said it was fine, I didn't want the to get stuck travelling etc.
By the time they were ready to leave and I had looked after the kids while they packed and loaded the car (still in my pjs and robe, no opportunity to get in the bathroom), it was 11.30am. They thanked me for letting them stay and we did the whole 'we must do this again sometime' and they left. I went round and cleaned up the house again, putting sheets and towels in the wash etc.
I texted my friend a few hours later to ask if they'd got home ok in all the snow but had no reply. I haven't heard anything since and it was 2 weeks ago now.
I know having two toddlers is hard and they were tired from their activities and I don't want to unfairly judge, but I feel like they basically just came and used my house as free accommodation and i'm a bit peeved to be honest. Don't etiquette rules apply anymore?
If I go to stay with someone I take something (bottle of wine, box of chocs, flowers or something), I tidy up after myself, help with the washing up and I either text or email to thank them when I get home. Or is it that this is the way it is when you have young kids and I've just not been aware of it before?