10 Tips to be an Awesome House Guest #1

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Since we find ourselves in the position of being extended guests of late, I thought a post about how to be a great house guest would be appropriate.  Having been both the guest and the host, I’ve come at this issue from both sides.  Both roles can be quite challenging!  Here are ten tips to help keep both the guest and host sane:

  • Communicate!  Keep the lines of communication open at all times, so both parties feel comfortable bringing up problem areas.  It’s also good to communicate about expectations, meal plans, daily activities, shopping for supplies, etc.  You don’t need to get permission for every little thing, but it’s courteous to keep one another in the information loop.
  • Ask for a house tour and tips.  Your host will probably welcome the chance to show you around the house, let you know what is off-limits, and show you how things work.  If they care about their home, they will likely be relieved that you care enough to ask.
  • Help buy household goods.  When you see that a household supply is getting low or you have just finished the hand soap, why not go out and replenish that item?  To be on the safe side, I would recommend buying an exact replica.  Your host may be partial to a particular brand or scent.
  • Bring a host gift.  It’s a great way to show your appreciation to your hosts by bringing a thoughtful token gift.  It doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant, but do put some thought into it.  A few ideas: chocolate or other yummy food, wine (if your host is so inclined), flowers/house plant, gift card and handwritten note, or a special item which fits their interests.
  • Keep your room/area tidy.  This is a no-brainer, but it still warrants being said.  Nothing will get your hosts upset with you quicker than if you leave their house messy.  Even if you have a private guest room to yourself, it shows respect to your hosts when you keep it looking nice.  Of course it also makes sense to clean up after yourself in the common areas, as well.
  • Help with pet care.  You don’t need to take on full-time pet care, but it’s thoughtful to help care for your host’s pets when there is a need and you’re available.  Make sure you are familiar with the particulars of caring for their pet before you jump right in.  You don’t want to give them the wrong food or something.  A few easy tasks are feeding, taking the dog for a walk, or changing the cat’s litter.
  • Spend time away from your hosts.  Even if you and your hosts are having the time of your lives together, it’s beneficial to both parties when you can spend some time apart.  Don’t be afraid to make plans to see a movie, go shopping, or go to the library.  When you come back together again, you will feel more refreshed and energized.
  • Help with dishes and meal clean-up.  This is just common courtesy and it helps the household run more smoothly.  If your host has been kind enough to prepare a meal for you, why not be kind enough to wash the dishes for them?
  • Limit your bathroom time.  This is especially important when the bathroom facilities are limited!  Try to take reasonable showers and bathroom breaks so that you’re not preventing others from using the facilities.  Ask your host when it would be most convenient for you to shower.  You don’t want to mess up their morning routine!  Also, try not to use up all the hot water.  😦
  • Buy groceries.  If you’re staying for more than a meal or two, you should definitely be helping with the grocery bill.  You could offer to go with to the grocery store and foot the bill, if your host already has the menu planned.  Or you could plan some meals yourself (ask when it would be a good time for you to cook) and go purchase the necessary groceries.  It’s also nice to get the occasional treat for everybody–donuts, snack food, or pantry staples.  Again, ask your host if there are certain brands they prefer.

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Easy LEGO Clean Up

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I cannot even guess how many LEGOs we own.  It is an insane amount.  All of my children enjoy playing with them, but oddly enough, nobody likes cleaning them up.  After a royal fit the other day when everybody claimed that it was someone else who had scattered the LEGOs over the floor, I had a brain wave.

What if I found a way to make clean up easier?  Wow–what a thought!

The first thing that I did was purchase a small dustpan and broom from Walmart that will be exclusively for LEGO clean up.  It’s so easy to just sweep the pieces into the dustpan and dump them in the LEGO bin.  This solution works well for a mess that’s scattered across the floor, or for small piles.

My next idea, which I’d seen done at LEGO group at the library, was to have the kids play with their LEGOs on a flat sheet or blanket.  When they are done playing, it’s very simple to gather up the whole bundle and dump it out into the storage bin.

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For sheer quickness, the sheet/blanket method is best.  However, the dustpan and broom work really well for young kids who want to assert their independence.

Girls Clothing Purge

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A little while back I decided to go through the girls’ clothing and get rid of some.  The three of them share a very large wardrobe, and their dresses are hung in the closet.  The clothing in the wardrobe was literally falling out because there was so much of it.  The closet was also packed with dresses.  In the photo above you can see all of them lined up on the side of the bunk bed.  Do my girls really need over 60 dresses?  I don’t think so!

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I weeded out the ones that don’t fit well, that I don’t like, that were stained or old-fashioned.  We ended up with the pile above to get rid of–enough to fill a garbage bag.  They went to the nearby clothing charity for some other little girls to enjoy.  My girls knew that I was getting rid of some dresses, but I did not have them help me.  I also didn’t show them the ones that I chose to get rid of.  I thought it might be too traumatic for them since they really like their dresses.  They did understand that we had to get rid of some, though.  I’m glad they can be so level-headed and practical when we start talking like a pack of mommies.

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When we finished this is what their closet looked like.  It is much more manageable now and the girls can easily go in and pick out a dress.  Their sections are now separated by empty hangers.

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This photo just gives you a little sampling of what their wardrobe looked like.  Too much stuff in too little space.  Everything was jammed in there and things were hanging off the shelves.  They couldn’t even get to a lot of it because it was so buried.  I took a few days to go through the entire thing, focusing on one girl’s clothing at a time.  I weeded out the stuff to get rid of and then organized it again on the shelves designated for that particular girl.  I don’t even remember how much stuff we got rid of.

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This is what it looked like when I finished.  Much less clothing, and everything given its own neat and tidy space.  The two eldest can pick out their own clothing, which is farther down.  The toddler’s clothing is on top.  This is to keep her from pulling it all out, and because the other two can’t reach the top shelf.  This system seems to work out well for us, though I’m sure we could make improvements.

So, there you have it.  My girls clothing purge.  It was a very good thing for us.  The girls can now get their clothing more easily and quickly.  Putting away laundry is soooo much easier.  Their room is also tidier because we don’t end up with clothing falling out of the wardrobe all the time.

Thanks for taking a peak!  Is it time to clean out your closets?