Hostesses With The Mostest > Entertaining and Hospitality

'Enforcing' house rules without being a nag

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To start with - the person is question is my brother.  Close family. 

Generally, we get along pretty well.  He, like most people, dislikes being nagged.  I don't want to be a nag.  However, whenever he comes to visit, he does several things that drive me a little crazy and my poor Mr K just about ready to rip out his (own) hair with the sheer thoughtlessness of it.  I guess I'm looking for a nice way to say "Dude, seriously knock it off or I won't invite you over anymore" without nagging over every little thing he does.

These are all pretty minor in terms of thoughtless guest behaviour, but they happen so frequently.  Also, he is currently bemoaning his singlehood status.  His will date, but it pretty much fizzles after the third or fourth date.  Basically, once a date invites him home, they rarely go back out again and he genuinely doesn't seem to know why.  So I'd also like to help set him straight because I *KNOW* that some of these things are going to be dealbreakers for the other person in the relationship.

1 - When he comes in, he takes his shoes off.  This is awesome, as this is how we do things in our house.  We have a *big* mat area in our front hall along with a bench to sit on to take shoes off and a shoe rack.  I also have a bin of slippers.  Regardless, once his shoes are off, they invariably end up halfway down the hall.  He does not borrow the slippers I make available.
Please note, I am aware of the shoe/no-shoe controversy.  Our shoes-off-ness is partly ethnic culture and partly regional culture.  Shoes on households are rare, and so the question is not how to I make him take off his shoes, but rather once his shoes are off, how do I 'train' him to put them on the mat?

2 - When he comes in, he will take out his wallet and keys and phone and put them on my kitchen counter.  This is fine.  HOWEVER, I have a small drying towel on the counter near the sink for LK's bottles and clean bottle nipples.  He invariably puts his things on top of this towel.  THAT drives me NUTS!  I feel like I should not have to say, "please don't put your wallet where my daughter's clean bottles go".  I feel very much like that should be a common sense thing.

3 - Mr K and I often eat our dinner in the living room after LK has gone to bed.  It is an enjoyable way for us to reconnect.  For this reason, I have placemats on our coffee table.  The placemats take up about 1/3 of the space of the coffee table.  They are easy to fold up and put away.  Usually I do this when I have guests, but if I'm not expecting guests, I may not remove them.
He put his feet ON the placemat.  Even typing that, I just hung my head going "why would I have to say 'don't put your feet on the placemat'?"  These are actually OBVIOUSLY placemats.  He's been over before and has eaten with us in the living room, so he does know that those placemats are where the food goes.
I said nothing and threw them in the wash.
If he had moved the placemats to put his feet up, I would have been okay with it.

4 - I offered him a drink.  He wanted a cold pop.  Mr K grabbed the pop.  I handed him a coaster as Mr K handed him the pop.  He took the pop and the coaster.  He put the coaster on the table.  Then he put the pop on the table.  Then I picked up the pop and put it on the coaster.
He is almost 30 and has a fairly well paying extremely professional career.  He's not some mannerless bum.
Although at the same time... he rather is.

His empty pop can and beer bottle were where he left them when he left.  He did not ask about recycling or where they should go.

All of the above happened in the first 60 minutes of his visit.  If he was a date and not my brother, this behaviour very early on would be a dealbreaker. 

These are examples and far from a comprehensive list.  They are little things.  I do know that a past girlfriend got very upset with him about shoes on her coffee table and they broke up shortly thereafter, so I have a strong suspicion that he does not do these things just at my house, but does them in general.

Is there anything I can do about this, either as a hostess, friend, or sister, to alert him to the understanding that his behaviour is thoughtless bordering on rude? 

I just don't understand.  Have you ever verbally told him about these things? Or been proactive?
Oh hey, let me put your shoes here with the others.  I keep all our shoes here.
Can you put your wallet over here? That's where I put the baby's clean bottles. Thanks.
Let me move these placemats, we use these for eating. (I would think they would be a foot rest too BTW)
Dude, that is a coaster for your drink! (said jokingly)
As for recycling, that's a bit much IMO but if it's important to you, just say, "Oh are you done? That goes in the recycling bin in the kitchen on the right..." etc.
But in the end, you may have to use your words to express how you feel.  And if you have and he still ignores it, then try once more said firmly.  You don't need etiquette with your own brother and as you mentioned, close family..

When we were kids, Mom said "No feet on the furniture!" Perhaps you can say that. Even say the "Mom says 'No feet on the furniture'" part.

My mother used to wrap a napkin around a cold beverage. Since you knit, maybe you can knit one of those slip-on things.

Somebody else on this forum on another thread said they put out a basket or bowl for people to put their keys and other stuff near the door. Sounds like he needs one of those.

I don't expect my guests to take their glasses, much less their empty bottles and cans, to where they go afterwards. But if that's your house rules, then it's on you and your husband to tell him.

That's it: it is your house, your rules, so it's up to you to tell him. Every time he comes over, as he is doing them.

It is not nagging. Nagging is saying, "Gee, when are you going to lose weight? Are you working hard to get a raise at work? How organized is your garage? Why aren't you married yet? Etc. Nagging is that going on about his personal stuff. Asking a question is not nagging, even if you asked that one before, in my opinion.

But telling or instructing someone while they break or forget one of your house rules, even though they are one after another is not nagging.

Nagging is like worrying. Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, going on and on and on.

Perfect Circle:
You just need to tell him what you want to happen in your house.

On the recycling thing - we recycle everything but I don expect my guests to do it, I do it for them.

There is a difference between Nagging and sharing your preferences.

Nagging:  "Would you like a drink?"  Brother says yes.  "Ok, but you have to keep it on the coaster."  "Here's your soda, make sure you put it on this coaster."  Brother takes a sips.  "Put it on the coaster when you put it down, not the table!"

Sharing preference:  "Would you like a drink?"  Brother says yes.  "Here's you soda and a coaster.  The table gets marks if you put it on the surface so please be sure to put it on the coaster."  Brother puts it on the table.  "Doofus! I just said to put it on the coaster." (in the nice sisterly way of course)


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