The Family are coming.
Aaah the joy of family… how do you manage them when they come and how long can they stay for?
All of us have family member/s who at one point or another want to come and stay – for a weekend visit, maybe for longer if they are coming back from overseas. How do you negotiate this with your flatmates, especially when a welcome is overstayed? It’s hard to choose between your family and your flattie to make sure everyone is kept happy.
Start with a discussion with your flatmate to let them know someone is coming to stay. Maybe it is Mum and Dad coming for the weekend to see where you live and catch up with you, maybe it is a sibling returning from an extended trip overseas and needs a couch for a few weeks to get re established in their own space, or maybe there has been an emergency and someone needs to be there indefinitely. Have the chat with your housemate and make sure that they are okay with the arrangement, especially if it is a couch surfing type of stay, or whether your guest is sharing your room/bed or you offer them your room and you take the sofa.
Make sure your flatmate is comfortable with someone else being there, especially when you are not. Set some boundaries about behaviour that your flatmate night otherwise engage in that can be tempered for the weekend or managed in a different way while your guests are with you. Make sure you set the same boundaries with your familial guest.
You need to chat with the family member/s and outline the basics of your own house rules. They may be very different to the rules you had growing up. Be clear about things that happen in your house including the use of things that are not yours. Things like food and the wine in the fridge or on the wine rack can often be bones of contention. If there is separate space in your fridge allocated to the members of your household, make your visitor is very aware of what he/she/they can and cannot touch. If they do use something that is not yours, replace it very quickly.
Horror stories abound of family members coming to stay and not leaving, or engaging in behaviour that others in the house find offensive. One story we have been made aware of is a parent coming to stay after a relationship separation, and not leaving. This went on for four months where, in the end, the flatmate moved out and the parent moved in – much to the disdain of the daughter.
It’s a bit of a minefield but open and honest communication with everyone means that situations can be avoided or discussed in a healthy way. If it all gets too much, then book your family somewhere else to stay so that danger can be avoided in the first place.