Having had time to ruminate on our impending move and get some prearrangements out of the way, it’s time to knuckle down and get to work on the most important part of the plan: reprogramming ourselves.
Packing, staging and filing a change-of-address are the easy things. Training to be good Others is time-consuming, but non-optional. When we visit Grandma for a weekend and the kids leave towels on the floor and toys strewn around, it’s still just one weekend. By Sunday afternoon, we’re cleaning up, loading up and kissing goodbye, and Grandma still loves us. Moving in? “Sunday” is a long time coming. How-to-Be-an-Awesome-Other Boot Camp is necessary.
As an experienced host, I know very well that it can be kind of awesome to have Others around. I also know that it can be a giant, draining, relationship-killing pain in the ass. I’ve been guilty of not setting expectations straight out of the gate, or not enforcing expectations when I did. (This was my downfall as a manager-of-people as well.) Therefore, I’ve asked what the expectations are, and even though my MIL is being very gracious, I intend to make sure we rock Otherdom as it’s never been rocked before.
5 Basic Rules for Being an Awesome Other at Grandma’s House
1. Adapt to House Practices
If Grandma keeps toothbrushes in a drawer, get used to putting your toothbrush in a drawer. If she washes dishes as she goes or hangs towels on the refrigerator handle, you do the same. If you’re used to staying up and listening to music or watching TV till midnight but Grandma likes to lock up and shut the lights down at 10:00, guess what.
2. Kids, I’m Still the Boss of You
In the unlikely event that House rules should happen to be more lax than mine, you’re stuck using mine.
3. Contribute Twice as Much as You Would at Home
Empty the trash when it’s full, clean the sink when you’re done with it, keep the floor swept, and if you can tell the toilet’s getting scrungy, swish it out. You never have to ask permission to clean something. If you use the last of something, replace it or put it on a list. Cook dinner. Run the vacuum. Don’t wait for “Cleaning Day” and don’t avoid a mess just because you aren’t the one who made it.
4. Respect Boundaries
Grandma or otherwise, host bedrooms and dedicated home offices are off-limits unless you’re invited. Assume that any room used as combination common-room-slash-home office is private when your host is busy working at their desk. If you really think you need to be in there while they’re paying bills, ask their permission. Never assume that the permission is open-ended. <>Ask every time.<>
5. Be Nice
Children will not throw tantrums, adults will not grouch. Get along, or get away from each other for a minute. Additionally, your crappy mood, bad day or run of bad luck is no excuse to take things out on the rest of the household. No raging, and no sullen withdrawal, either. Muster up the sack to get over it.
I really hope this will not be “interesting”…
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