Five Ways To Be A Helpful Guest – When Staying With A Large Family

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Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

Benjamin Franklin

So wrong, Benjamin!!

Guests can be an asset to a busy household and here’s how.

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My Mum and my Aunty Heather have been home for a week now. They are freezing back in Scotland and England where they live.

Their three week visit to us went really, really well, not a cross word was spoken.

Mum and Heather are very well brought up young ladies. Their parents, my Granny and Grandpa, did an excellent job at training them up. I must do same with my kids.

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Mum and Heather were exemplary guests and I thought I’d just put together a wee list of the things they did that made their visit a pleasure and not a chore.

Without really planning it, the two of them became so helpful around the house. 

Our guests were still a pleasure to have around after three weeks. But that’s because they made our lives easier and they kept us entertained too.

Also Aunty Heather is a great cook, especially of vegetarian Indian curries.

5 ways to be a good guest

Five Ways To Be A Helpful Guest 

1. Stay out of the way whilst the morning rush happens

Unless you’ve been asked to help out on some specific tasks, just steer clear of the kitchen and family areas.

If you can’t help out with the “I can’t find my tie,” “I forgot to do my homework.” “We’ve run out of vegemite,’ morning nightmare scenarios, it’s better not to clutter up the house.

2. Learn where everything goes in the kitchen

You’ll be spending a LOT of time washing up dishes and putting them away. Pretentd it’s a memory game and learn off by heart where everything lives. As soon as is humanely possible.

3. Cook for the family – whatever their whims

Don’t just offer to make a meal, buy the ingredients and get on with it. It can be nerve-wracking to start cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen but if you give yourself some time and buy everything you need, you can do it!

It can be quite overwhelming for hosts to have to prepare even larger meals when they have guests staying. Parents in a large family will love you so much for relieving them of dinner duties.

4. Take over the washing and folding

But never the putting away!  Run through how the family does the washing early )and take notes.) Some families NEVER mix whites and colours (me!) and others just chuck everything in together joyfully. Learn what’s what and then stick to it.

The relentless washing cycle can be the bete noir of large families so if guests can relieve that burden during their stay, you’ll be asked back for sure!

NB Check how the socks are folded or put together… and do as the family does.

5, Tell The Children Stories

If, like us, your family are emigrants, the children might be missing out on much of their family’s oral history. Tell them tales of when you were young, tell them about your aunts and uncles and grandparents, about life during the Second World War, about what you ate and the pets you had.

You might never know the impact these stories have beyond keeping the kids spellbound (and silent) for a few minutes at a time. But they will sink in and become part of that kid’s sense of self.

Mum and Ms 9

And just for fun, here are a couple of holiday snaps.

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Come back, Mum and Heather!

I’m trying to persuade them to move in and be our honorary au pairs.

Can you add any tips about what works well when you have guests staying?


Seana xx


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