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I'm worried I'm going to upset everyone this summer. Advice appreciated.

(36 Posts)
lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:03:44

I'm coming back to the UK for an extended visit this summer with my 3dcs (12, 8 and 6).

Over the past few years I've enjoyed these visits and catching up with friends and family, but I've also been aware than I'm not always the easiest guest to have around.

I find it really, really difficult to know when I should be relaxing and when I should be helping out. Also, it's hard to know when I'm 'allowed' to just be sitting around reading a book in the sunshine, or whether I should be participating with everyone else. It's lead to 'holidays' where I feel exhausted from talking too much or feeling like I'm being a freeloader.

DH doesn't seem to have the same problem at all. He's quite happy to sit with a cup of tea or a beer in his hand and watch the kids playing or (say) his mum making supper. He does help out, but he doesn't let it seem to dominate his holiday.

Because I get tired out by being a visitor, I can also get overemotional or even a bit argumentative after a while. I like my own 'head space'.

I've organised 2 weeks of borrowing friend's homes during the time we are there, but for the other 4 weeks I can see becoming ratty with everyone (like last time on a couple of occasions). I do take myself off out and about sometimes and let people get on with things, but it never feels quite enough (if that makes sense) so I don't recharge my batteries. And everyone wants to see the kids so although I'm limiting how much travelling we're doing, there will still be a lot of time with folk.

Sorry, I'm having a bit of a ranty thing going on here, it's just I'm worried because last time I felt so stretched thin that I ended up snapping at a couple of relatives and it's been a bit strained with them since.

Overseas people (or anyone) - how do you cope with being a long visitor?

crassula Tue 16-Jun-15 18:08:38

It's hard.

I cope with it by just deciding what I want to do, and then doing it. I do have to accept that sometimes people get upset by it - but, you know, it's sometimes OK to upset people, even if they're family.

We have limited holiday time, and we very much need to spend some of that time just with ourselves, as a family. We live overseas, and both have families living in different countries, which means someone is always disappointed. We do what we can, but we have learned to accept that sometimes people will be disappointed. (We found that a better option than the seething resentment and hostility that was building up and destroying us when we spent our whole time fighting about pleasing others.)

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:16:02

Thanks Crassula.

Yes, balance can be tricky, can't it? A few years ago I zigzagged across England with the 3 young DCs and ended up so unhappy and tired (feeling I needed to please everyone) that I ended up snapping at a family member and having a screaming fit on the front lawn blush.

Last time I didn't do so much, and it was a lot better.

I love coming to the UK, but it's not relaxing. We've not had a beachy-type holiday in years because of how expensive it all is, sometimes I resent it.

Last time I came, I helped my DSil with getting the kids ready for bed one evening, getting supper cleared up etc. Finally, my kids were all ready (but still up) an so I sat with a glass of wine and the paper in the garden and she made a sniping comment about the fact that I was just sitting around the place. I felt like that summed up the time in the UK - that even when the chores are done for 'my part of the family' in someone else's house, I end up looking like a lump if I'm not helping out when someone else is doing chores. As said, DH doesn't have that problem at all!

RecoveringPerfectionist Tue 16-Jun-15 18:21:07

I would be the same as you OP, and I would also struggle with having guests for too long. I think it's a lot harder if you're quite introverted (I am more that way inclined). My DH is the same. Can be sociable for a while but then really need some time out to almost recover from being around people otherwise it can really affect him. And not being in your own home and also being a thoughtful/analytical person who worries about whether you're doing your share or whatever. Some people just seem to be able to go with the flow don't they and not give it too much thought.

Sorry, no help at all. But I just wanted to say that I think what you're feeling is completely normal, especially if you're a little introverted.

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:27:02

Thanks Recovering. Really kind to reply.

I think I can be intensely sociable, and also have to be intensely alone as well. (or just with the kids or DH - they are 'non-people'!) I'm no good at doing what my DH does which is to potter around at my own pace and let the world flap about around me. I'm jealous of that ability.

I do overanalyse about whether I'm doing my fair share, for example. At home, I tend to do massive bursts of frantic activity (say, all washing on a monday, huge heaps everywhere), or bulk cooking 4 shepherds pies and a load of spaghetti sauce and muffins, but then I can be quite lazy the rest of the time. My relatives tend to be potterers - they do bits of washing every day, and seem to be endlessly meal preparing, instead of just letting people help themselves. It's like a never ending round of small chores. Aaaargh!!

clearasmud Tue 16-Jun-15 18:27:19

I've always found that going home is not a holiday, at least not for me.
I much prefer that family visit us wherever we're licing and take holidays as a family elsewhere. It means we don't travel as much as other expats but that's what works for me/us.
The one time I went "home" to my inlaws who visit us at least twice a year without problems, it was a nightmare. I dos more than my fair share of helping out but turns out I didn't do it the way they liked it?! Every small thing turned into an issue. Now we stay in hotels when going back home ��

crassula Tue 16-Jun-15 18:29:11

My DH doesn't seem worried about any of these things either, and I've just made it clear to him that if he's really not bothered, since I am, I will make the decisions.

It is hard, though - and I do usually end up feeling guilty. But like I said, that feeling of guilt is nowhere as bad as the anger and resentment I was feeling when I was pleasing everyone else, and feeling very bitter.

Agree with pp - it's totally normal and it's a tricky thing to negotiate. I think in the end you just have to weigh up what's most important to you all.

For example, it's very important to DH and me that we spend some holiday time with just us and DC. It's important to me that I spend time with my sister and her kids (this doesn't matter so much to DH, so I've just let it go and I go to see her and her family alone). It's important that we spend some time with my MIL, although I don't like her much, she chain-smokes around DC, and now DH has agreed that we can limit our time with her.

None of it is perfect, but then I don't think these things ever are

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:32:18

It definitely isn't a 'holiday' Clearasmud - you're right!!

The problem is, both sets of parents have deliberately bought large enough houses so that we could come and stay when we come to the UK. Going to a hotel would be really out of our budget and I know my kids would be really sad not to be with their grandparents/aunties/cousins etc.
I am looking forward to being in my SILs house for a week (alone) and also my friends house up in Scotland for a week. I'm just nervous about the rest of the time…

I do miss my family and friends so much and wish I could just calm down and relax. Perhaps I should ask my relatives to be really specific when they want help, and that otherwise I will be fully relaxing.
The only place where I am relaxed is with my sister. She doesn't want me in the kitchen (and is the same when she comes here) and she has a cleaner so it's easier. We also know when to tell the other person when to STFU. grin

RecoveringPerfectionist Tue 16-Jun-15 18:37:24

I get that about bursts of activity then laziness lol. And I also think I swing from being an extrovert to an introvert. My DH can be very sociable and charming and fun etc. But inside after a couple of hours he's starting to struggle.

Have you thought about trying to do a house swap, or Airbnb?

I think telling ppl how you feel could be a good idea. It's so hard isn't it cos if you lived locally you'd see these ppl little and often and not in the intense manner which occurs when you stay with them.

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:45:01

Ugh - Crassula - a chain smoking MIL. Gak!!

Recovering - I do think I will flag it up with the relative s that I don't want to second guess when they need help. I'm also going to ask them to tell me when they need some 'alone time' as well.

I wasn't sure if that would seem a rude thing.

nilbyname Tue 16-Jun-15 18:46:19

Can kids stay with the GPs and you and your dh stay elsewhere for a bit- have a mini holiday within your holiday?

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:47:56

Nilbyname. That is such a bloody good idea I could reach through the screen and give you a big kiss grin

I'm going to float that idea with DH tonight.
I only need to go somewhere simple, but it would be the first time together for the two of us in years.

lilivonshtupp Tue 16-Jun-15 18:48:39

Only problem will be, persuading his DPs to let him do this. They do tend to want to devour every moment of his time when he is there.

Allgunsblazing Tue 16-Jun-15 19:01:06

I do a combination:
Wek one: my child goes with my mother&father to the seaside for a week. We spend the time doing growing up stuff, like sorting my parents' house up, buying stuff for the house, hiring repairmen etc. the evenings we spend on terraces having endless beers with my childhood friends.
Second week we go to the seaside, my parents go back. My million of cousins come with their children, it's show off time, it exhausts and despairs me, but...it's family. My Parents pop in and out.
Never made it to the 3rd week, never will.
When we get back we're all exhausted and cranky

rookiemere Tue 16-Jun-15 19:28:32

Maybe a bit late for this year, but we now do houseswaps or rent a property rather than staying with people ( and we live in the UK so we're only talking about shortish visits grin), so much more relaxing

Minibreak with your DH sounds like a great idea - sell it as an opportunity for his DPs to spend valuable bonding time with their GCs.

Sgtmajormummy Tue 16-Jun-15 20:27:07

Nilbyname had a great idea, but I wouldn't like to impose TOO much on grandparents as babysitters, however active they may be. At 12, 8 and 6 they can amuse themselves, though.

Something not quite so drastic would be to ask your hosts for "single child days" where you take one of your DC for an individual treat based on his or her interests, leaving the others to potter with their grandparents and DH. 3 days of that would get you out of the house and the confusing role of "neither guest nor resident".

I have 2 DC (9 & 17) who are interested in very different things, so one is always putting up with the other. A day in England with a parent all for themselves would be a real treat.

Apart from that, just ask your DP or PIL to be brutally honest about housework. And return the courtesy!
A little story here smile. I overheard my sister telling DM when we were all gathered at hers for a celebration: "Oh, Sgt has been so helpful, chipping in at the supermarket, she even changed the beds for me yesterday!". I said nothing but thought "Isn't that what you were expecting? I would!".

nilbyname Tue 16-Jun-15 20:54:35

Yay! I hope you get to do it! grin I'm sure the GPs will love some grandchildren time without you around. Even just 2/3 nights away....heaven!

Suttonmum1 Tue 16-Jun-15 21:02:27

Why not try renting somewhere using AirBNB, either for your mini holiday or so you stay close to your relatives?

MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 17-Jun-15 02:54:21

Been overseas for 22 years and my max is a week with my family and a week with the in laws. If anyone wants to see us more than that, they know where we are. We live in a hot part of the USA, we have a pool and we love spending summer here. I don't want to spend my whole summer in the UK anyway (I wouldn't choose to holiday there every year if I didn't have family there) and staying at other peoples houses is just too stressful.

We did a week in Italy one year in a rented farmhouse with converted outbuildings and invited all dh's family. It worked well (neutral territory) but we ended up paying and it cost a fortune........

MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 17-Jun-15 02:56:21

Oh yes and although my docs are 6 and 10 and reasonably easygoing, neither my df nor my mil is keen to take them off our hands for any amount of time......

Want2bSupermum Wed 17-Jun-15 03:41:26

I have a few non neigotiables. Namely an extended holiday visiting the homeland is only permitted if we can take off time for 2 weeks of vacation on our own.

Once in the homeland (DH is from Denmark and my family are in UK and Canada) we do something everyday. Others on here have called me a control freak but with young kids I'm up at 6am. At 10am I'm leaving for our daily activity. I've left people behind before as they were not ready despite ample opportunity. I order dinner in for everyone 3-4 nights a week too. M&S do some great healthy meals. In Denmark I order prepared foods from their 'posh' supermarket.

It sounds busy to be doing something everyday but the activities vary from a walk into town to a trip to the local theme park or a trip on a boat. Denmark is the longest holiday (3 weeks this year) plus it's my ILs so always going to be a bit awkward. The first activity I do is walk the kids into the tourist information center in town. There is an awful lot in the UK which is low cost or free to do. Denmark is $$$$. If I fancy a quiet day for myself I take the kids for swim lessons and sit in the cafe with a book (I order the books from Amazon for delivery to Denmark).

We are really fortunate that we have the funds to have these extravagant visits to family. It's a huge cost which most people are not aware of when they neigotiate their package. We also host a party for all family to visit when in Denmark. We get the same catering company every year and it's an all day event and this year we have booked a bounce house for the kids (and us later in the evening).

I think what you are going through is completely normal. Visiting family is not a holiday and that isn't understood by people back at home. At least my PIL don't get it!

Atenco Wed 17-Jun-15 03:52:00

Uuuf, not very helpful, but I tried to buy a plane ticket online a few years back and made a mistake turning six weeks into three months. Two months with my SIL had me reduced to tears and my poor SIL too. She has her housework so completely organised and planned that I kept treading on her toes by doing things wrong. So that is the end of my trips back home, it is much too far to go for a week or two, though I really regret having made it three months.

madwomanbackintheattic Wed 17-Jun-15 04:12:32

I am sending my three back on their own as unaccompanied minors to grandma's house. Dh and I are staying here and going backpacking into the wilderness. It's probably as anti social as you can get. grin

In other news, I did fret and fuss over whether mil would mind if dh and I went away whilst she was sweating over the kids. Dh looked at me as though I was mad.

I floated the idea at Christmas - mil usually comes here during the summer hols, but I wondered if they would like to shake it up (and not spend the air fare). So, I am kidless for August. It will be the first time in fifteen and a half years. They are going for almost four weeks, and dh and I have a fortnight off during that time.

mrsduff Wed 17-Jun-15 04:15:50

We are due to leave SE Asia for a six week holiday to the UK, splitting the time between DH's parents and mine. Already I am feeling a bit stressed about the fact that everyone would 'love' to see us, but it nearly always involves us going to see them, rather than them visiting us. Just the thought of being a guest at lots of peoples' houses for 6 weeks makes me feel stressed.. and then i feel guilty as I can't wait to see them...

We have booked 4 days holiday just for us at the very start of the holiday though, where i fully intend to relax in my pyjamas.

Good luck OP. My coping strategy will involve getting out of the house every day, avoiding conflict wherever possible, and hoping to have a few evenings just with the DH. Or failing that, sneak up to my bedroom after children's bedtime and eat kitkats and drink wine

kickassangel Wed 17-Jun-15 05:01:46

I completely get this. I hate our visits home now. I don't get even a second to myself as were either staying with people or I'm driving with DDto the next place. She has ASD and gets really stressed out by too much social time, and none of our family have any understanding (or wish) to understand her. In fact, I've been asked when I'll sort her out!

So, I have no answer, except don't book such a long visit next time. I find about 3 days is the most I can take of my family, and never again for MIL.

Almost our entire families refuse to fly, DH gets hardly any holiday but I'm a teacher so it's expected that I will do all the traveling to see everyone. Even once I land, it's me that drives hundreds/thousands of miles with DD.

So this year I'm not going. Hah!

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