Visitors: how do you negotiate visits before they happen?(13 Posts)
We always give them a spare mobile
Yes, we do this too- much cheaper for them. I also give them an Octopus card (cashless payment card for public transport), plus I try to save up a load of small denomination notes to swap them for the big notes they'll get out of the cash machines here.
I also have a laminated card (yeah i know- geekville) with common places written in English, Phonetic Chinese, and then Chinese characters, to help them in taxis.
Dh and i agree that we will not have visitors when we have holidays, as we need that time to unwind. So visitors have to be self sufficient when they come, as we are at work. We always give them a spare mobile and connect them with a local tour guide we know. The rest is up to them.
Ever since mil and her dh stayed with us, it has really put us off having visitors. She was a right pita, and she only stayed 10 days in total, with a stay at both her dd's houses. She was rude to me on several occasions, and dh agreed that they won't stay with us next time. The attitude we got from her was shit
horrid woman she was trying to interfere and undermine me on several occasions too.
Fil is coming on Saturday, but we've both agreed its getting too much, and he'll have to stay with his other dd's too.
After lots of people staying, we have booked a family holiday ourselves, to Thailand, and everyone else can fuck off, as its all inclusive, and I'm fully intending on getting waited on hand and foot.
We are generally very lucky with visitors. They are mostly independent and happy to pitch in and help. However, MIL and her partner came out for 2 weeks last summer and before they came we told them that DH couldn't take time off (he only gets 3 weeks holiday a year and can't really be bothered with her anyway), so they would have to bus it or train it everywhere (he has the car for work). After 4 days of them hanging around the house, getting up late and then going in the huff because I had already got on with my day with DS, I took her partner shopping with me and basically just said to him that since it was their first time in this wonderful country they really were missing a trick not getting out and seeing it when it was so accessible. Did they really want to come all the way to Canada just to sit in our back garden? The next morning they were like a different couple, got up with DH and he drove them to the train station on the way to work. This was the first of 4 day trips which they thoroughly enjoyed. It seems they just needed a kick up the arse.
We are always very straight up with our visitors before they make plans and they know what to expect when they visit. We both have busy lives here and they have to fit in with us or do their own thing. Honesty is the best policy. However, if I ever have to see Niagara Falls again in this lifetime I will throw myself in
In addition to all these great points, my DH and I regularly catch up and plan when could be potential good times for visitors that way if someone gets hijack on the phone (yes FiL I am referring to you ) they have a rough idea of what might work.
As everyone says never ever go for vague or assumptions - always be very specific on dates and details like I'll be working, kids are on holiday/at school.
And finally with parents you are each responsible for your own - DH has to sort out his and their little foibles and I sort out mine!
I send them a link to a vacation rentals site or local hotels. No joke.
One upside of DD being such a shit sleeper is that she and DS have to sleep in their own rooms, so we have no spare. Therefore all visitors stay down the road in a hotel. This makes things a LOT easier. Just having a few hours a day (especially first thing in the morning) with just the usual house residents makes me feel much less "under the cosh". For some reason having to do a proper breakfast and extra people in and out of the bathroom just means that the morning routine seems to drag out for hours. My rules -
- No sofa surfing ever. Not even for one night.
- Dont expect us to take time off work because we only get 20 days each and we need them for our holidays. Visitors need to be independent.
- Agree the dates first. We travel a lot and are often out of town at weekends (not that true, but that's my propaganda)
- Between me and DH: if it's your parents coming out, you have to make effort- no sudden week long trips to KL.
To be fair, most frequent visitor is my mum (6 weeks per year) and she is very easy- coincides her visits with when I could do with some help, like when I had DD or when I have to work FT for 2 weeks (normally work PT), or when DH is travelling for 2 weeks. As she is here a lot, she knows the place pretty well and is confident getting around. She really just comes to see the GC so doesnt want to do tourist attractions.
Once had visitors (friends of my parents) in Dubai who let the cat escape (it was a fostered cat which was kept inside, and it didnt come back for a week). It was awful because it was an accident and I was trying not to be angry with them whilst being really stressed about the cat getting found by the municipality and getting put down.
It is hard living abroad, I have had 23 years of it! My dh always used to 'work' really hard when his late mother used to visit, leaving me with her all day and 3 small children. My own mother drives me bonkers as much as I love her. A friend recommended that when 'tiresome' family members stay think nothing of saying you are popping out to the post office or supermarket - just to get away from them! The thing I have noticed is when we return to the UK everyone carries on their lives/plans as normal whereas we are expected to stop everything and entertain them as they are on holiday.
My latest irritation/annoyance regarding visitors is my fil and his wife have just booked a flight out for a week but for some reason have chosen to fly on my ds's birthday. I stupidly didn't specify that the dates they could visit didn't include travelling a 5 hour maybe more round trip to collect them from the f***ing airport on his birthday. In fact the dates they chose, booked flights then let us know by email that it was booked were not even the dates I gave them. . Dh refuses to ask them to change it. There really is something for staying in your own home country and having visitors just come for lunch then go!!
Thanks so much for responding. It's nice to feel as though I am not alone.
I think you are both right in that I need to broach it but my relationship with her is so incredibly taught, it is difficult to find the words. The last time we had an honest talk, she burst into tears, claimed that I was cold and detached and then relayed her one-sided version of the conversation to my siblings which has adversely affected my relationship with them too. She's passive aggressive, highly manipulative and completely self-absorbed. Oooh, that feels better!
I would be happy with something like 'It would be great to see you over this weekend - i.e. four-ish days - as we have nothing planned and will be able to see you properly...' Hmmm. Maybe that's it. Thinking whilst typing...
Oh - you are me Well obviously not, but our relationships with our mothers sound very similar.
After one horrendous 2 week visit just after my DC2 was born, which still makes me seethe and stress when I think about it, I am very firm - and also only allow her to visit if accompanied by my dad or one of my sisters (although obviously I haven't actually said that outright ) When she comes with my Dad there is now tacit agreement they stay in a hotel - fortunately they can easily afford it, and my dad has some health issues that make it easy to explain away...
Set the rules you can live with before she comes over, crucially length of stay, otherwise you will
murder her one of these visits possibly strain an already difficult relationship beyond repair. How to do it is tricky, and I can't advise really, but don't let things be assumed and ask for precise details, and just say straight out if you know you won#t cope with her plan (though I always try to find an excuse and haven't yet said "I just can't handle the idea of you in my house for 2 weeks ever, ever again " I tried having an honest, frank conversation with my mum and thought it had worked but by the next time we spoke she had re-written history and decided that the conversations was a lovely heart to heart, and the key issues I thought we had resolved had apparently utterly slipped her mind
This is a difficult one! Tbh, over the years, I've had to get a bit ruthless about it (particularly with dh's family who frankly would have had no compunction about moving in for months, without even consulting us!) My late mil used to refer to our home as "hers".
The first rule is to be really up on your game when it comes to school holidays/planned breaks etc etc. Never, ever leave things up in the air or people will plan your schedule for you. Know what you are going to be doing at all times, so you can say "that would have been lovely but we already have plans and will be in x" or we will be here but we will be busy doing "y".
Be on guard when it comes to "casual" phone calls ...I can't tell you the number of times people have rung up to mention in passing that they "may" be coming over at a certain (vague) time ... to which I have naturally replied "oh that would be great" (meaning it would be great in a general sense) only to have them call me back having booked their flights or carved out a specific week or two without having consulted us further. It took me ages to twig that "casual" phone calls are usually anything but and I now treat even the most vaguest of suggestions as though they were proposed 'set in stone' arrangements.
All of the above makes me sound horribly inhospitable but believe me, we still have lots of visitors and really spoil them, and frankly it's bloody hard work. (Well it depends on the guests tbh. Some are lovely and independent and appreciative and the house is tidier when they leave than when they came! Others hand over their dc to us, and in addition to bed, board and food, expect us to entertain them and take them on tours all day which can be hard when you are doing your thousandth tour of the local museums/beauty spots.)
Believe me, I completely understand about difficult family members. I think the key is feeling that you have control over what happens - you set the agenda and not the guests. Specifically, you need to set boundaries and feel comfortable with when and how often your mother comes. After all, you have the rest of your family to consider. You may have to be quite blunt at the beginning - but it's better in the long run to be honest - and she will eventually get the message. Try not to feel guilty - you will have a better relationship in the long run if you set clear boundaries.
Sorry for essay! Good luck!
I have seen a few threads discussing the minefield of issues around people staying with you when you live abroad. I would like to know how you handle the planning process before the trip. How do you agree a period of time convenient to you? How do you negotiate the stresses and strains, particularly when communication between both parties may not be very open or easy? Do you just grin and bear it and say yes to everything that is put to you or do you attempt to have some control over how often and for how long people stay? If so, how might you word your point of view?
The bit below is optional! - To give some background to my own situation:
I have a very difficult relationship with my mum. 6 months ago, I moved abroad with my dh and 3dcs. In that time, she has visited twice. The first visit was planned quite late in the day and she stayed for just over a week. It was nice of her to come as I had been quite ill and although we irritated each other, it was good to have an extra pair of hands now and then. It actually made more work in other ways but anyway...
The second visit came a couple of months later. She mentioned that she wanted to visit. I said that it would be OK and talk to dh about when might be the best time. I received an email a day later to tell me which flights she had already booked! This time, it was for 10 days, which was way too long.
I know that she wants to come over again but I just find it all very difficult. I want her to see the dcs but it's all so very uncomfortable and hard for me. I become extremely wound up before and after any interaction with her. It is making me feel stressed just writing this.
I am hoping that I do not come across as too unappreciative. Please be assured that there is a long and genuinely twisted history behind my less-than-ideal familial relationships!
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