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December 19, 2019

Dealing With Unruly Guests This Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again and though it’s supposed to be full of good cheer, the stress of shopping, cooking, planning, traveling and hosting can detract from the holly season — especially when houseguests are involved. This morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show, Jess sat down with Jeff and Carolyn to share insights on dealing with difficult house guests. Check out the notes and video below.

Sherrie asks…

My boyfriend and I live together, but we’re going to visit his parents over the holidays and they insist that we sleep in separate rooms. How do we convince them that we’re adults and can share a bedroom?

Their house means their rules. You are adults and if you really want to sleep in the same room, you can book a hotel room.

I’m not suggesting that their motivation for separating you is more justified than your desire to sleep together, but if they’re graciously opening up their home, you have to adjust your behaviour to reflect the rules of the house.

Of course, you can politely ask if it’s possible to share a room (in advance) and you might want to provide a reason for this request (e.g. you sleep better together), but they’re not obliged to accommodate.

Marcia asks…

My brother and sister in law are two of my favourite people and they come to stay with us for two weeks every year over the holidays. I love spending time with them, but they’re not the best houseguests. They leave a mess, make a ton of noise late at night, never make their bed, don’t help with the dishes and they’ve gotten spoiled with us waiting on them. I still want them to come, but is there any way I can get them to help out since it’s such a long stay (without insulting them)?

In some cases, you’ll want to set a limit on how long your houseguests stay. In this case, since you want them to stay the full two weeks, you’ll all benefit from setting boundaries and delineating expectations when they arrive.

Perhaps you can purchase a small white noise machine and let them know that you have trouble sleeping when there is too much noise.

And you might even make a checklist of chores to be done around the house and hang it on the fridge. You and your partner (and kids) can sign up for tasks and you can ask them if they want to sign up too.

If you have kids, you can use their chores to remind everyone in the house of the tasks that need to be completed (e.g. making the bed). Timmy — it’s time to make your bed now. I’m going to make mine and everyone else is too. If that sounds too patronizing, simply be more direct: Can you make up that bed please? I like to walk by a clean room.

When houseguests are staying for a long time, you may also want to make plans on your own without them. For example, you might make plans to go out for dinner with friends or clients and allow them to fend for themselves for the night. Spending time apart can help to ease the tension of close quarters and may encourage them to appreciate all that you do.

Do you have any tips for being a more considerate houseguest?

Do all the things you’d do at home on a good day. Make your bed, wipe down the counter in the bathroom, change the toilet paper. Buy groceries and contribute. When you leave, if you have time, strip and wash the sheets and remake the bed before you go. Empty the trash in the bathroom.

And adjust your behaviour to fit into the household norms. If they normally go to bed earlier, try to adjust your schedule or at least retreat to your room and keep the noise down. If they’re up early to make breakfast, beat them to it. Rather than asking if you can help, make an offer of several options and let them choose how you can help. You’re not at a hotel, so don’t sit back and wait to be served.