Extended House Guests: Thriving not Surviving

My children will tell you we were homeless. I prefer to say we were displaced.  For 42 days this past summer, our home base was our car.  Everything else was crammed in our storage unit or in a friend’s garage.


Sometimes, even the best laid plans fall through and you are left scrambling.  We had well laid plans of a temporary rental while the tenants in our home finished out their lease and we could return home.   But when the day after signing our own lease, the tenants in our home broke theirs we decided to wait it out until they left and only move ourselves once.


Red car as the clampet car

We stayed on a friends farm for a portion of the time we were displaced.  We set up a tent in their backyard and it was a truly great experience.  These weren’t friends we had known all our lives but they were good friends and good people and opened their home when we really needed it.


In all honesty to the host, I must say that we choose to set up our tent as a home base vs taking our hosts up on their offer to stay in the house.  As a family of five, we tend to create an explosion of stuff quickly and I preferred to keep it contained and out of eye sight.


Last summer, as we traveled across the U.S. we stayed with various friends & family. Sometimes we stayed in a guest room.  At my sisters we stayed in her backyard in their pop-up tent for a week.


My in-laws visit for a two-week stay several times a year (click to read more), my mom usually comes for a week every other year and we always willing to host any family member (or friends) that come our way.

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Being an extended house guest and hosting extending house guests is a markedly different experience than having a weekend house guest.


Ordinary, every day life can be put on hold for a weekend while you have an overnight guest or two.  Extended guests are sharing in the fun & happy parts of life but they are also there for the every day stuff….like the chores.


Ten Tips to Thrive & Not Just Survive
with Extended House Guests

 Have Patience.  I am continually reminded of this.  Even well-oiled schedules simply take longer the more people involved.


Keep a Posted schedule.  Let folks know when they should be ready to head out the door together or when you will be out of the house and they should plan on making their own plans or meals for the day.  (I use a Post-It Notes Weekly Calendar)


Menu Planning.  Yes, make a dinner menu for the entire time (or at least a week) your guests will be visiting.  Be sure to include a few crock pot meals and dinners that can be pre-made over the weekend.  Trying to negotiate what to eat every night with more people involved is a recipe for disaster.


Keep a well stocked kitchen.  Don’t make your extended house guests wait to be served for every meal.  Keep breakfast and lunch staples so everyone can fix themselves a meal.  Encourage them to eat freely.


Colored coded towels.  Give your guests a set of towels that are in color contrast to the ones you will be using.  Giving each person their own color works even better.  This is essential if you will also be sharing a bath.


Painters Tape to write your name on glasses.  I can not begin to count the number of glasses I find tucked in corners of the kitchen or the number of drinks I toss down the drain because no one knows whose glass it is.  I’ll admit, this trick may be a bit tacky for weekend house guests but for those extended stay guests it will cut down on how many times in a day the dishwasher must be run.  (I use 3M Safe-Release Painters Masking Tape)Cups with painters Tape

An empty washing machine.  Chances are that your extended house guests are going to need wash some clothes.  If your own clothes are in the machine, your guests are less likely to wash theirs.


Keep the plunger in plain sight.  I have a dear friend who after finding herself in a bathroom with a toilet she plugged and no plunger in sight, made the decision to reach in and unplug it with her hand.  Yes, totally true story.  Oh, and on the same note keep plenty of extra toilet paper in plain sight.


Cover the essentials.  Write down the wifi password, provide an extra house key, label the remotes, post your address and plug in a few night lights or leave a small light on.


And if you’re feeling ambitious or fear your house guests lack in their ability to use google, create an activities folder.  Stock it with brochures of nearby attractions, take-out menus, maps, a bus schedule, etc.


And while I couldn’t bring myself to label this as #11 but still important:  Be out of earshot when  you cheer their departure.  I love my extended house guests and I really, truly do want them to return.  But yeah, I kinda like being able to walk to the kitchen in my bath towel.


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1 thought on “Extended House Guests: Thriving not Surviving

  1. […] It was quite clear to me in my Goldilocks moment that I had failed my most recent round of guests.  I did not provide my typical little basket (okay, fine…sometime random pile!) of toiletry items which included a new bar of soap in its own little travel caddy.  I didn’t cover half of my own advice on thriving with house guests! […]