I firmly believe that as a military spouse the best phone calls are those from family saying they are coming for a visit….. or are they? Having the extra hands is always welcomed and it is always nice to have company that loves you no matter what. However, it can also be challenging. Visits with family can be sparse due to location and we, the military family, become accustom to doing things our own way and so when family visits we can feel sort of lost as to what to do. Do we sit around and visit or go to all the tourist attractions or both? Should they stay with us? But, the house is kinda small? The kids are in school, should we take them out? I know that some of these questions are personal and really only the individual can truly answer them but I have tips to help! Don’t I always :)?
1. Talk with your family about their expectations for the visit? I know my family comes and we hit the streets running! But, my husband’s is a little different. They may have one or two things to do. The last thing you would want to do is expect to go to all the tourist attractions when all Grandma wants to do is stay home and play with her grandchildren or vise versa. So set the tone ahead of time so everyone knows what is coming and this will help with tip #2.
2. Keep kids home if a major outing is planned. I say (and this is how we do it) that if an outing is planned keep kids home and if not then send kids to school. I wouldn’t want my kids to miss out on family time and the photo ops! However, as a parent you should do what is best for your child and family.
3. Small house? Hotels are a great option! For years I crammed my family into our tiny house and then they asked about lodging on base and we all jumped on it. For now our house is too small and we feel like we are on top of each other plus we aren’t used to many visitors and so it helps my little family catch a break. Most bases have base lodging. At our little base it is Navy Gateway Inns and Suites and it is a godsend!
4. Ask for help! I remember one family visit I felt like I never left the kitchen and I was exhausted! Now, I step up and ask for help cleaning up and cooking. Don’t stress over the cleanliness of your home, ask for someone to help with the kitchen duties so you can relax and visit, too.
5. Ask that everyone contributes financially. Visiting family cost can add up. Between food and outings it can get pretty expensive. I know I feel like I should be paying for everything especially the food we eat at our house but feeding 11 people (yes, I had that many at one point) is just too costly. I am lucky both sides pitch in without us asking but it might not be the case for everyone. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask to split the bill at your next meal, your family might be relieved you asked.
6. FREE babysitters!!! If you are a couple who doesn’t go out much take advantage of visiting family and have a date night. Most times your visiting family would love to watch the kids while you have a date with your honey. Even though we have a list of sitters it is still nice to go out and not have the extra expense.
In closing, I have one last tip… I am sure my family may read this and not be too happy but here is goes….. From my mother, “Fish and company stink after three days!” Sure, we don’t see them often and everyone wants to spend as much time as possible together but if you are the type who doesn’t like a messy house or are living on a budget or in generally don’t like your space invaded it is okay to give a length family can stay. I love when my family comes to visit it means helping hands and fun times but I am also always ready to see them go. So, don’t let visiting family stress you out (if that is what happens… I know it can for me) and use one or more of these tips to have a great visit!