How Would You Prevent Stress on Visit to the Neatnick's?

Updated on July 29, 2013
A.J. asks from Norristown, PA
34 answers

A family trip to my dad's is upon us. He and his wife are great people who live in a beautiful home on a cove in the Seattle area. We have not been to see them in 2 years and they paid for our flights. We invited them to see us (2 tickets), but they insisted on flying us to see them (4 tickets-yikes!). The kids are excited to go and I'm thankful for the opportunity-I love the Seattle area.

However I'd like to prevent some of the stress I underwent on the last two visits (and have not wanted to go back since). We also just got back from a yearly trip to my mom's in TN (I drove two days each way alone with kids) with grandma passing away and lots of other family drama…after a long school year, I'm just tired. I parent three kids alone, 7, 5 and 4. The only "vacations" in our budget/schedule at this time are trips to see family, none to just chill or relax..

So anyway. Their Seattle house is IMMACULATE. There is not a piece of clutter anywhere and there is nary a dirty dish in the sink EVER. There are not wrinkled guest towels in the bathrooms, there is not laundry left in the dryer MUCH LESS on top of a dryer, there is not a food item in the cabinet without the label facing forward or a veggie that hasn't been washed, cut up and placed in a baggie in the "baggies of cut veggies section" of the sparkling fridge with dated food items--you get the idea. Even their basement and garage are perfectly purged and organized and it's not OK to move anything without putting it away before you set it down. Rain boots? Lined up perfectly in order of height.

Everyone, including guests, is expected to maintain that level of cleanliness and order at all times in all all rooms-even the guest rumpled suitcases or unmade beds allowed....etc. They will come in and say, with a very annoyed tone, "Can you clean up this room please??!!" if the sleeping bags are left unrolled 10 minutes after the kids get up.

Soooooooo, with three small kids, I am pretty much picking up or telling someone to pick up constantly, but even so, we're not perfect, tempers wear thin, the hosts get cranky, and so do I because it's sort of impossible to keep up with every little thing and I don't like to be scolded at 43. They also have three doors to the outside, and a "no shoes in the house" rule, so simply trying to make sure no child ever sets foot in the house with a shoe on is a full-time job-especially since we have none of these rules at our house so they aren't in the habit of taking off shoes before coming in. Last visit I kept having to swoop and throw toddler shoes out before someone saw one inside (and then they were annoyed that the shoes were all jumbled up outside)…I even had to sweep up some mud clumps once in the entry-way before they came downstairs and saw them-my heart was racing!

I try my best to respect their space and keep things immaculate. I have no desire to be rude or wreck the house or be waited on hand and foot. But a few days into a visit, I'm just WORN OUT. While I'm hurrying to scrape the kids plates and get them into the dishwasher (oldest does her own, younger two can't reach), someone is grumbling that I left something out of the fridge or didn't use a chip clip in the pantry …or someone's jacket is draped over a chair instead of inside the closet..…

We'll be there for 10 days. They chose the duration based on some activities in the area they want to take the kids on. I'm thinking I don't really have a leg to stand on for complaining as I did not book the flights or pay for them. To be honest, the only one stressed that I know of is me. The kids have fun, and I really do break my neck to keep things clean, so the hosts don't get angry "too often". They're the ones who have been insisting on a visit for over a year... I just don't want to run quite so ragged this time…I'd like to get to rest "a little" while kids visit grandparents.

Would any of you try to prevent the battle with some sort of request for leniency in advance? I need a non-offensive way to explain that I really can't keep the kids spotless at all times though I will try my best....or should I just be prepared to do my best again and have a come-back ready when someone chides me for the kids leaving some toys outside of the toy box or a toothbrush outside of a cosmetics bag IN THE GUEST BATHROOM (it has happened-and the guest bathroom is deep within house and would never be seen by anyone from the outside world-it's not the HALL guest bathroom)…or is it one of those things that just is what it is. Any tips? Should I grin and bear it? It will be a great trip aside from that factor.

I have said things like, "I'm so sorry you guys, I am trying my best to keep things tidy but it's hard with three little ones" but it's like they can't control the anger and loud sighs and comments on their end…if they have to pick up or wash something of ours, it has to be done immediately and they make a grumpy show of it.…As much as this behavior is crazy to me and not how hosts should act by any stretch, they would be equally convinced that guests should be absolutely neat……so…Should I just make the effort not to be annoyed that they're annoyed? My other siblings and I joke about what hard work it is to stay there, they are this tough on everyone.

For any super neat people out there, is there anything a guest/relative could say that would make you less annoyed if an error was made, or would you be stressed no matter what if the people left things out of place?

Do I ignore or address this?
Hotel is not an option for 10 days. Tickets are purchased.

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So What Happened?

MyMission-now that's innovative!!! Dividing the kids! Hmmm! I would not have thought of that!

Featured Answers



answers from Boca Raton on

I would not have agreed to subject myself to these circumstances for 10 days, and I don't care how much my kids enjoy it. That is freaking nuts.

But since you're committed, I'd make like a duck and let the water roll off my back. Basically ignore the huffs, puffs and eye rolls. Just think, if it gets nutty enough they won't invite you back!

I can't imagine treating my child and grandchildren that way.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

No way in hell would I go. I wish you the best of luck. You sound like a very sweet, caring person.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Have you considered becoming a writer? My eyes popped out of my head when I saw 10 days.

I wish there was a way you could get a broken toe or something and have them see what it is like to control 3 kids. I'm half joking.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Been there. Luckily my mil became sick and suddenly her standards lowered quite a bit! Lol, jk.

There a few suggestions here that really address the problem. Maybe its time to divide and conquer.

How about you assign a kid to each of the grandparents and one to you? You really want them to bond with the kids.
You tell them that the joy of grand parenting is theirs for ten days and for them to really have the full experience, that the care and feeding of that child will be theirs. You understand that you are unable to police three kids to their expectations and this will take some stress off of all of you.
If Jonny's coat is hanging on the chair then grandma helps him to get it to the right place. If suzy is tracking mud in the house then grandpa is cleaning it up and showing them where to put her shoes. You would most naturally be in charge of the youngest. Let's all join in this rediculous effort!

You have my sympathies. I got an eye roll once for having folded laundry on top of the dryer!

12 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Wow. I got stressed out just reading your post and I'm a fairly neat person, though not obsessively focused like your parents. Prior to accepting such a generous offer, I would have had a gentle heart-to-heart with them about how stressful these visits are on you because of their insistence on every little thing being 'just so' and how it is virtually impossible with three little kids. Their demands actually hamper a close family dynamic because their expectations simply cannot be met. And it doesn't sound like you and your family are slobs, it sounds like they have set an impossible bar. At any rate, now that the tickets have been purchased, I would *still* have this conversation or you will really struggle during those 10 days. Good luck and I hope you end up having a wonderful time!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

At this point in the game, unless you plan on having a serious, but gentle, talk with them about how unreasonable their expectation are, in your place I would be tempted to show them how it really feels to be their guest. I'd go as planned, be the best guest possible, but the first time I was scolded, I'd break down and have a good stress-relieving cry right in front of them. Then go for a long walk by myself and leave them with the kids for about 2 or 3 hours.
But that's me.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I will preface this by saying that I'm a neatnik to the level that you describe. My pantry is that organized, so is my fridge, so is my laundry room. The closet full of cleaning supplies is a little bit in disarray right now (meaning that my kids have been helping to clean, and they put things back in the wrong order, *gasp*), and it is actually making me crazy to think about that as I type this... But just know that it's not that I *enjoy* being this way. I'm just compulsive. When people come to visit, it's all I can do to sit and talk to them when I see that there's an empty soda can sitting on the coffee table (and I just want to put it away in the recycling already!). I have to actively avoid looking at the guest bath, for fear that their stuff might be sitting out on the counter, and I KNOW it's not polite to tell them to clean up, but it literally drives me insane to see it sitting out. But on the other hand, I don't want to be a bad hostess, so I would never say anything. But it would give me a headache, for sure. I wish I weren't this way, and I can be a little more relaxed if everything else in life is going well - but the more stressed out I get, the worse my organizing compulsion gets, and around and around it goes. I know there are people who are WAY worse off than I am, but just to give you a little glimpse inside the head of a compulsive organizer...

Okay. So, that being said, just go into this knowing that it's not a preference of your hosts that they live this way. It's a compulsion. A mild (or maybe not-so-mild) form of OCD. They literally can't help it. Just do your best to tidy up, and maybe try to contain the mess to one room (with a door you can close). At least for me, if I can't see it (like my cleaning products closet), it's not as bad. For future visits, maybe you could arrange to meet somewhere in the middle - if your in-laws would be willing to rent 2 hotel rooms somewhere, for instance, that could work. Then you can visit with them where they have their own space, and you have yours, and never the two shall meet?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

Have you look in to home swapping sites to see if one is available/affordable?

I would practice the other "house rules" before the trip. Make a game of it, 100 pennies at the start of the day, fined a penny first "offense" two the second etc. The kids with the most pennies at the end of the day gets a special treat or chooses dessert. That way the rules are not new to them.

Other than that I would talk to your dad. He needs to remember what it is like to have small children around and make allowances.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Hi A.!
You know, I'm a form believer that houseguests should kind if blend in to almost invisible. But what you're describing sounds very extreme. is their reality.
Couple thoughts...

Try your best.
Drink. (Lol)

Seriously though, you might be better off acknowledging that it IS difficult for you to make sure all 4 of you are following all rules perfectly at all times.
I think if its out in the open, it'll lessen the pressure hatch.

Oh--and in addition to your artistic and design skills, you really know how to turn a phrase--very well written, descriptive post! I can almost smell the OCD! Lol

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Oh my gosh, I got stressed out just reading your post! I can't imagine being THAT neat, though I appreciate the perspective from Hell on Heels.

I don't have a ton of advice, but I think this is what I would do in this situation:
1. Talk to your kids about it before you go. Let them know that grandma and grandpa keep their house perfectly clean at all times and expect the same from their guests. Emphasize that it's cleaner than they've ever been before.
2. Talk to your dad and his wife in advance too. Say that you understand and respect the way that they maintain their house and that you'll do your absolute best to keep up. But, also let them know that with three small children, there will be slips and you'd appreciate any help they can offer. Don't mention the eye rolls and loud sighs, as it will just put them on the defensive and make them shut down to whatever else you say. Ask for a tiny bit of leeway.
3. If they will allow it, attach a sign to the inside of the guest room door. Have a checklist of things the kids need to do before they leave the room. Use pictures if the little ones aren't reading. For example - put your clothes in the hamper, roll up your sleeping bags, arrange your teddy bears, books, whatever neatly in a row.
4. Pack as little as you possibly can. Do not bring toys - let their grandparents find things for them to play with. Limit the number of stuffed animals or blankets they can bring to sleep with. Only pack two pairs of shoes per kid - both should be versatile, wearable with anything, and ok if it's rainy. The fewer shoes you have, the fewer you'll need to line up.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would get up and go out all day every day. If they get upset with things, just let it roll off your back. I have a SIL like that. Last time we were there We swore we would never go back. Do the best you can. Not easy. Hey but if they want to come here and organize my house, they are welcome lol.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You asked for how we would handle this stress. I would not go. I do not care that tickets are already purchased I would simply let them eat the cost. Perhaps then they would understand why you do not enjoy being in their home. I realize the other side of things with their stress levels being made to rise with the arrival of guests who do not keep things to their standards but that is why one should not have guests and you as guests should never feel forced to live under that much stress.

There's no way I would feel happy about subjecting my children, myself and yes even the family who've invited us all to this type of situation. This does not sound as if it is going to be fun for you and seeing as it seems just as stressful on them what is the point in going?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Maybe you could talk with them in advance and say something like "I am so grateful for your gift allowing us all to come visit and stay with you for our vacation. It really means alot. I am a bit concerned though because your home is so neat that I have trouble keeping it that emaculant on a constant basis. I don't want you to feel the need to pick up after us but I do need a little longer to handle things because I'm not as quick on the draw as you are." Then ask if it would it be ok if you let me worry about the guest rooms a little less often if I promise to remedy it before we leave?

Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you should just voice your feelings -- lightly and with humor -- in advance.

Something to the effect of praising their perfection, and your relative incompetence, with the assurance that you will do your best to meet their standards but that you will probably fail somewhat in the attempt, and that you hope they aren't too annoyed at your slovenly-ness.

And then go and do your best, and try hard to enjoy yourself, and not be stressed.

Hopefully they will minimize their annoyance.

And having been to Hell on Heels' house: it IS pretty perfect, and makes me feel inferior, as a homemaker. However, if I've made a mess, she has refrained from telling me about it. ;)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

pack several bottles of alcohol!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Maybe just talk to them first. Be honest - you like a clean home and respect their beautiful home, but the stress of keeping things up to their standards is overwhelming. If your guest areas can be "stress free zones" that will be returned to pre-guest perfection, that would be ideal. Their expectations are unrealistic, but calling them that won't help. Who does it really matter to? Dad or Step-Mom? Don't go in defensive - do the "ask for help" approach.

Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Geesh!!! How sad! I'm sorry for that you have been dealing with and all that you are anticipating. You can't change the past, but, you can change what you choose to do in the future.

Prep in good humor, as Sarah and Robert E. wrote. I like the idea of making this a game in which you and your children are all in this together.

Arrive with confidence. Do not, do not, do not, apologize for being less than perfect. But do own it. You will have your children practice keeping their areas "relatively" neatly. This is mothering at it's finest. But you should not run around after them constantly, or apologize for their presence! And guest rooms should have doors closed and be private. On this, I'm afraid, I would insist. Non-negotiable.

If they make a comment, do not respond. Comments do not require a conversation, but rather can be considered their way of dealing with their discomfort. If they pick something up , let them. It meets their needs. If they ask for help, tell them when you will get the task done. If they belittle you, show it. Talkstotrees nailed it! Be real, be real positive, and if tormented, be real upset. I truly hope you have a wonderful time and can reset your expectations.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I guess if it were me I would have a very light, gentle conversation with them telling them that visiting them is too stressful for me. That I worry the whole time about the kids and I ever leaving something out or putting it in the wrong place. And it's impossible for me to not have our suitcase be messy or leave a toothbrush out on the counter in the guest bathroom. I'd say it just causes me too much stress...that I try my best but it's just not possible for me. I'd say that perhaps we should stay in a hotel bc at least we can be ourselves there and not feel like we are making our family angry or annoyed at us....See what I'm doing...I'm trying to say have a conversation with them but put it all on yourself so that it's not "their fault". If possible. Maybe that will make them think. Then the next time you go, do stay in a hotel. It will be so much nicer that way. They have a very high level of OCD and it's sad it's affecting their relationship with their family members. Crazy!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

That's a problem since the tickets are already purchased. I would have said either a hotel stay (and/or a shorter trip) and to have had a discussion IN ADVANCE of making the commitment, to say that you'd love to visit but that three young kids are untidy. I'd have let them know that it's not a vacation to you to be expected to be picking up after kids every moment of the day when you are more lax about tidiness during your normal life, and that's just not a vacation to you. Tell them that their standards are simply not realistic for families raising kids. If it makes you miserable, have that discussion before visiting again. Also, speak to the children. Discuss reasonable expectations for their responsibitilies.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I wouldn't go.

Their OCD (and they have an extreme case of it) does not get to become my family's problem, resulting in our misery for 10 days.

When they ask why you aren't coming, tell them the truth.

What if she had anxiety or bipolar and said and did things to you and your kids that were at best annoying and rude and at worst passive aggressive and hurtful? Would it be ok then? She needs medication. That is not normal behavior. Sorry. I am a neat person but I would NEVER treat my guests, especially my family, in such a manner. Unacceptable.

I don't buy the excuse "she can't help it". Again, what if she had some other disorder that resulted in the same behavior, but that disorder came with more of a negative connotation? That is fine she can't help it, but if she can't, then my family doesn't visit.

My time is very valuable, and just like you, our family rarely gets a vacation. Why on earth would you spend the only free time you have away from home in a house like this? I used to, but that was when I let other people dictate my happiness. I have come a long way since then. =)

The part that really struck me about your post is you picking up a little dirt with a racing heart - I mean, do you not see how ridiculous that is? The makeup bag in the guest bathroom? This woman has serious issues. And please, do not think for a second your kids don't notice this and that it doesn't stress them. It does. They also see the effect it has on you.

If she loves her grandkids, which I assume she does, chances are if you don't go and explain why, she will knock off this absurd behavior in the future.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Stay at a hotel.
Visit them for several hours per day - there's only so much mess you can make in that amount of time - then get to the hotel (where the maid has made the beds and cleaned the bathrooms) and relax and unwind by the pool.
They need their space and they can clean it as they see fit and you'll have hotel space and you can leave things as you like with nary a complaint from housekeeping staff.
When we visit my Mom we stay at a hotel and we love it and Mom's happy with it.
When my sister visits my Mom, she stays at Mom's and leaves half cups of coffee all over the house - any surface when anything can be put down.
(My Mom's found them in the basement.)
My sister is a natural spiller - it's something she's never out grown (she's 50 now).
If she's within 10 feet of any liquid, somehow some way, a spill will happen.
It drives my Mom nuts.
A hotel is a real sanity saver every which way around for everyone involved.
Make your reservations now.

Hotel not an option?
Are you sure?
Why not?
That makes it tough.
It would be mandatory if I were in your place.
Rent an RV and park it in their driveway?
Pitch a tent in the back yard?
This isn't going to be a happy visit if you don't each have your own space.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi A..
I feel your anguish. My mother and step-father are the very same way. Visits to their home became so unbearable that we stopped speaking for some time.
I want you to know first off there is nothing wrong with you and the way you run your household. You are quite the norm and they are the crazy ones. I say this b/c my parents always try to make me feel like I am not a good parent b/c I don't wash the dishes the very second we are done eating. or because there's laundry on the floor, or we didn't make our beds that very morning because we were too busy snuggling or time first.
The truth of it is though it is their house and you accepted the invitation already. they are not going to change who they are and most likely will not cut you any slack even if you ask for leniency. You can try but I doubt it.
My advice to you is for the future just don't go. Don't do it to yourself it's not worth it. They can come to your home or when the kids are older they can go there by themselves. although that being said my 11 year old daughter hates going to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Florida because all they ever wanna do is clean. Good luck and just go with the flow, enjoy the time with your kids, and don't stress out so much about it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I think you should call and talk to them before you come. Let them know that you're ALREADY stressed at the prospect of coming and having to deal with them chiding and sighing and being annoyed with the clutter and messiness of children. Ask what you ALL can do to work this out (perhaps the guest room door and guest bath could be closed during your visit for privacy....and they don't have to see any clutter or mess?).

I honestly find it very rude that they'd come into guest spaces, where a measure of PRIVACY should be afforded, and expect everything to be perfectly neat during a visit. And if they chided me, I'd likely tell them that if they don't like my level of cleanliness, they can pay for a hotel.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have no concrete suggestions, however, just to let you know, its just as uncomfortable when the situation is reversed. I am a neatnick, things half done and not put away stress me out, this is true whether it is at the hand of a guest in my home, or if I am a guest in someone elses.


Consider implementing the following while you are there. 1. pick up after yourself to their standards. 2. have four daily 10 minute pick ups by the kids. before breakfast, before lunch and before dinner and before bed. 3. at the end of the 10 minutes, anything that has to be further corrected by you will result in a penalty for all of them.

This will have the kids picking up better with each effort. It will be a demonstrated clean up effort and honor the way your father keeps his home, and it won't be a constant clean up by you.

Hey if this fosters new habits in your kids that they bring home with them, all the better for all concerned, esp. you.

good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

This is one of the reasons I refuse to visit family if I can't afford a hotel. I am not picking on you at all, I've been in the same situation.

Last weekend the girls in my family (my mom, sister, niece, and daughter) drove from MD to SC to visit my older sister and her husband. My mom and I shared a hotel room and my younger sister had her own. Neither of them like maid service coming in while they are gone. I ALWAYS have it. I LOVE coming back to a clean room, made beds, new towels, etc. But I sucked it up since it was her points that booked the room. I was constantly cleaning though. She said she didn't want to do the dishes...I had already washed, dried, and put them away. I just dislike mess...but my house is FAR from spotless.

Either way, I like my own space with my family and avoid all other options when possible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I opened your post thinking, based on the title, "Oh, this will be no big deal. Us neatnicks just are happy as long as most of our house rules are not violated and our guests are trying their best to be respectful". But gosh,I don't know. If they sigh and roll their eyes and get frustrated even with you trying so hard to be respectful, and you are not able to do a hotel, you definitely need a game plan!
I would first have a gentle conversation with your Dad and Stepmother, let them know that you have been stressed in the past and want to let them know that you care about keeping their spaces clean but also need their patience and understanding. Perhaps they can give you a short list of the house rules so you can prep your kids. Hopefully the list can just be a short list of the biggest no-nos. Then I would have a game plan that everyone is aware of, such as "When you wake up, please roll up your sleeping bags and then you can have breakfast"; perhaps you can have a dish/chore schedule so your hosts know that you guys will be on top of your messes even if it takes a few min. The other thing I would suggest is taking some time apart. Like maybe morning-lunch you take the kids out to the park and a picnic or something. The less time you are in the house, the less mess and less stress, I would think, and it gives everyone a chance to regroup.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You address it with your kids. At 4,5,7 they are old enough to know some basic rules. I would go over them. Start with Grandma and grandpa like clean houses lol. But seriously here are a couple things that might help.

Get a mesh laundry bag and pack it in your bag. As each kids gets undressed each night grab the dirty stuff and keep it corralled.

Before and after teeth are brushed and bath times you make a run through the bathrooms picking up and wiping down the tub and sink.

Remind them to take shoes of at the door and if it was me I would bring a small rug as a shoe corral in the bedroom.

My thoughts on addressing this is no. The time for that would have been before you accepted 4 tickets. You knew going in what stayingthere would be like. You say your self it is not a hotel. It is someones home. And I myself am very easy going but if my daughter brought 3 kids home left the bedrooms a mess dirty clothes and towels crumpled in the bathroom and tracked muddy shoes through a house I'm proud of I also would be pissed.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

they sound wonderful in many ways, and love that they wan to spend time with you. but that's just waaaaayyyyyy too much mental pressure for me.
any way you could just send the kids? or one kid?
oh, i see the tickets are purchased.
10 days. wow.
i just don't see any way out of sucking it up, hon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yeesh! It sounds like you are going to make every effort to be a good guest. They sound like horrible hosts if they are going to hold you to such a high neatness standard.

Hopefully, you already got some good advice. I would send an e-mail to your dad and his wife in advance letting them know that you appreciate their hospitality, and that you hope they will understand how hard it is to keep their house immaculate while you are staying there with young children. Perhaps if you keep the door to the guest room shut at all times, most of the mess can be contained there. And try to stay out of the house as much as possible.

I think it is extremely rude of them to express their frustration and displeasure at what should be considered a reasonable "mess". That is not hospitality. I wouldn't want to stay where I don't feel welcome. Good luck to you! I hope you are still able to enjoy yourselves!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You probably should have address all of this before you accepted the tickets.

They are foolish to think that they can have three kids over an not have their lives made crazy for 10 days. If I were you, I'd simply do my best to make an effort but certainly not stress over it. It's not you, it's them.

But I would call your dad and mention to him that he and his wife need to stay off of your back in terms of your room. It's ridiculous to think they would expect you to tidy it to the point of perfection every day. But make an effort and try to have a great time. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

This would drive me nuts and I'd be dreading this "vacation". Way to much work for you. Maybe you could find a cabin to rent for less than a hotel and spend five nights at dad's and five nights in a cute cabin? and yes, I'd let them know that you find their house to be unwelcoming and stressful. Sadly, your kids may notice more as they get older and become more and more resistant to visiting these grandparents. Another way for you to relax, could you stay home while they take the three kids on an outing? Tell them you want them to be closer to the grandchildren and leaving mommy out of some outings could really help that. Then you could pick and clean for a while and Relax on the couch for a while, just jump up and fluff the pillows when you hear their car!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I totally sympathize. We stayed with friends in Germany a couple of summers ago. I didn't realize what neat freaks they are and how little privacy we would actually have in the rooms they set up for us. I know the wife was trying to be discreet, but I swear that she was shadowing me and the kids with a bottle of Windex. Soooo uncomfortable.

Even if a hotel is not an option for all 10 days, maybe it could be for some of the time if it gets unbearable?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think I would sit down and talk to the kids. The 7 and 5 year old can grasp the concept of neatness. The four year, you might be on your own! lol
Really, the 7 and 5 year old should be able to somewhat understand that these are the house "rules" at Grandpa's and that we need to try and follow them.
Can you try to explain to the parent's how stressful it is and that you could really use some help? I really think MyMission has a great idea!! Good luck! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Erie on

Wow! I have only two things to offer...

1. We visit an extremely neat home every year, but the family take their hosting duties seriously (that means, that they want us to enjoy our visit). A compromise is that we bend over backward to maintain the common areas, but our spaces (guest bedroom and bathroom) may be unkempt with the doors closed. They obviously know that the rooms are below standards, but they don't have to see them.

2. Talk to Dad, one on one. Tell him that you are frazzled right now and need some down time, that this visit won't do that if you are stressed for the whole time. I don't know your family history (are sibling jokes told when dad is present? did dad actively parent you when you were children?), so I don't know if it will help him to hear how hard it is to parent three on your own. Appeal to him to make the visit a little less work/stress for you.

I do believe in minimizing the work on a host/hostess. That being said, I don't agree that one person should be expected to endure ALL of the stress so that the others can operate completely within their comfort zone. Also, in this case, they are the ones who insisted that the visit be on their terms - knowing that the travel meant MUCH more work for you. If nothing else, perhaps they will agree to take the kids out one night so that you can have some mommy time...

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