22 January 2012

social commentary Sunday . . . 'how did you cope with the holiday freeloaders??'

Greetings all,
So, Christmas holidays, did you host guests over the silly season??  Did they go off like fish after 3 days, or 3 hours??  Were you guilty of freeloading yourself??
I know you had guests, i saw the 'guest bedroom junk confession' posts in the run up to Christmas.  I avoid staying with other people, including family - i much prefer a hotel situation with their endless towels, hot water, bedding . . . & enjoy the privacy while we collapse & debrief "why is my family like this??" & "did you hear what your sister said??" . . . then regain composure before the next 'event' & psych the children up: to be better behaved than their cousins
We've stayed with my husband's best mate many times, happily sharing one guest bedroom between the six of us & he marvels at us, when his brother-in-law requires 3 rooms for 2 children??!!  We bring our own towels & bedding, very aware we're an additional 6 people, staying with a family of 3.  We also take gifts & provisions which would cover the cost of the hotel, so we're not freeloading, just transferring where we spend our cash.  I'm sure this is a basic etiquette rule, it should be.
Now both our parents still have our childhood family homes, we're always 'welcome' there, however, last time i spent one night with my father-in-law & brought food/ bedding/ gifts with me, to be least-impact-possible, i said "thanks so much for having us" he said "it was a huge effort".  Um, what now??  My children didn't break anything, use all the hot water, they were angelic, PLUS he had two other grandchildren there for the first 5 hours (no parent) so . . . i will never understand, other than grumpy-old-man exactly what the huge effort was, to see his 4 interstate grandchildren.  Why did i agree to stay there anyway??  Ah yes, i had to pick up our Christmas gifts, even though i posted theirs!!  I could have just visited him for a few hours & stayed at my parent's empty house on the other side of Sydney, anonymously??  Hindsight!!
 One friend hosted both her brother & sister, plus their families & pets this Christmas, but brilliantly high tailed it out of there for her own family getaway on Boxing Day, before the extended family had left.  Apparently her sister-in-law hides in the guestroom until 11a.m. & it brought back memories of that posh English lady who famously wrote her prospective daughter-in-law a letter saying 'when one is a guest at one's home, they rise when the family in residence rises for the day'.  Here here!!  Get with the programme guests.  At a hotel, this is avoided as you just meet for 'events' & not every, living, breathing, moment . . . where absenses are noted.     
We rarely host anyone, our current Army rental . . . we have 6 people in a 4 bedroom house, one child sleeps in a makeshift bedroom.  Our homestead plan - we are building a guest wing (sounds more gentrified than it is) for teenagers parties, sleepovers & guests.  My Navy wife mother sent me off into Army wife world with my eyes WIDE open, about bored neighbours, users & milkers.  Our last house in Darwin was brilliant, in a cul-de-sac with 22 children who came in & out of the garden, it was fun, friendly, easy.  But if it was turning into a babysitting situation with responsibility, i didn't feel quite so welcoming.  You may have met these children before - they whisper to your child to ask you if they can come over for a play, then dinner, throw in a sleepover & it's the entire weekend - often because their parents have instructed their child to do so, free babysitting.  Ask me straight up, in advance, i'd love to have your child, however, undermine me . . . goodbye.  I've gone to take a child home & they've said "my parents have gone fishing" . . . hardly popping to the shops, or this cracker, when asking a sleepover guest when to expect her parents she said "i guess after their plane lands, they went to an interstate wedding".  I had NO idea, i thought it was dinner, you know, in the same state.  What on earth if something happened to their child??!! 
I love my family & i love my friends, however, i don't push the limits & boundaries of the impact my family of 6 would be staying with them.  Relationships can be ruined.  Did you get stuck with freeloaders these holidays??  How did you manage it??  Have you/ will you/ can you recover??  My husband is furious his father would be so rude, especially as he sees our children a fraction of the time he sees the other 8 grandchildren.  Love Posie

16 comments:

Becky said...

I avoided all of these dramas by staying at home this Christmas just gone :)

This coming Christmas may be different, perhaps I should book the motel already?

Polka Dot Rabbit said...

It also goes the other way :) I also much rather stay in a hotel for relaxation purposes. The worst thing is when staying with others you're dependent on their timelines. If I've stayed the night, I like to get up, sort myself out and head off after breakfast, yet a lot of people stay in bed until very late and expect you to hang around until after lunch which means a lot of sitting around trying not to get in the way!

Posie Patchwork said...

OH yes, i say up front my plans for leaving, as i like to be back on the road by 7a.m. & am not fussed if my children are still in jammies or have a dry breakfast in the car (like croissants) so we're on the road before the traffic. As i travel so far & wide with 4 children on my own, i'm pretty set in my mind & focussed. Love Posie

tinajo said...

We live far from our relatives - some christmases (do you spell it like that) we´ve had the house full for 3 weeks... First my parents in law, then my parents, then my brother in law with kids.

They always buy food and such to help out, but it is a strain to not be alone during that amount of time - so this year hubby and I decided that ONE visit was quite enough. We told the others that "We love you, but we need our privacy too" and they got that without hurt feelings. Such a relief - don´t understand why we waited so long with telling them!

VintageVicki said...

You know you've just made me realise that living within about 10 miles of 99% of my immediate family is a good thing! We can getogether for events but also all go back to our own homes in time for sleeping :)

Mum on the Run said...

Ha ha!
I've never understood freeloaders - the complete lack of awareness - or is it ingenuity??
I'd rather be broke and welcome!
:-)

The Provincial Homemaker said...

We stayed with my in-laws for xmas, and I definitely felt we were there too long - I said to DH the limit is a week in the future. I felt in the way, even though we ran grocery trips etc and, you know, the child underfoot was their grandchild!

I also love the 'friends' that come to stay when you are in a desirable location and can provide a convenient hotel, but when posted somewhere like, say toowoomba, no guests!

I once heard that the expression " to give the cold shoulder" refers to a practice in the middle ages of serving cold meat when you wanted your guests to leave.

Anonymous said...

Goodness you are having a moan aren't you?! And apparently you are so perfect while everyone else is a nightmare. Have you ever thought it may be you? Judging from your critical and cynical way of looking at 'close' friends and relatives it may just be you. Bad attitude!

Perhaps your Father in Law was joking or maybe you are just not pleasant company and moaned as much to him as you do here.

If you don't like your 'friends' etc, do them a favour and stay away. If having them around ruins Christmas then don't ask them to stay and don't inflict yourself on them either. If you can't wait to get away or for them to go away, why get together in the first place? Then you can only blame your bad time on yourself - which is probably where it should go. It seems very sad to me and rather disrespectful to people who think you like and love them.

Judging by how you speak so bluntly and rather aggressively here, I'm sure saying no would come easy to you. There is nothing worse than someone who bears grudges, telling everyone else about them while smiling and telling the people concerned that everything is fine.

This was cynical writing. You are lucky to have friends and family. Many don't but you seem not to appreciate them at all. What a shame!

Heather

Maxabella said...

My mum probably thought I was a freeloader... it didn't come up, but I'm sure she was thinking it.

I don't really think that if you invite someone into your home or they into yours that they expect anything or think that you're a freeloader. It's just nice to have company! x

ClaireyHewitt said...

I can't believe all this!!! Rude FIL first then kids staying while parents FLY away. OMFG.

Posie Patchwork said...

Gosh, clearly i'm never allowed to be negative on my own blog, check out the response. Yes, absolutely the common denominator with my father-in-law is ME, der, i get that. Trust me, i have tried my guts out for 18 years but have never felt welcome, that's life but he insisted i stay there that night.
Until you've been used beyond your limit as a babysitting dumping ground, you'll never know what that feels like.
Why be anonymous (link wise) & add a name, still doesn't mean anything. At least i put a name to my comments, thoughts & posts. I know many people are tortured by their relationships & how they are strained with 'guests'. Just giving you an outlet here to let it out. Love Posie

Kylie said...

WOW, Heather was on fire with you wasn't she!!!
For someone that knows you (and loves you fir who you are) I am always happy to visit. If ever invited I would love to stay (and you kkw that I will cook for your lovely family and help out, I am with you in giving back what it would cost)
We were the free loaders this Christmas (most of them actually) but I always try to do somethig buy something and co tribute to household chores etc Our families love having us stay as they know how far away we live and grab with both hands the little amount of time they get with us each year (my MIL is a little harder to crack - but you know that story)
We love having family stay with us as it gives us time to show them where we live. They can stay as long as they like and it is always a fight with my Dad when they stay who is going to put fuel in the car or pay for the groceries.
If you ever want to visit this little two horse town you know that you are welcome and that we would make room for you. Would love to have you and your beautiful children visit and explore our new home. Maybe we could leave Tim with all the kids and we can hit the shops in Melbourne.
This is your blog and you should be allowed to say and feel what you want to.

ally said...

Hello Jennie - its good to see you stimulating opinion again!!
I never feel like I'm in the way at the in-laws but we do try hard to not over stay the welcome and do (more than) our share.
I have been guilty of hiding in bed for a while to let them all have some family time though (and a quiet read!)
We had lovely guests at the shack - loved every minute of having them. My brother was the perfect guest - put up his own tent (so the kids wouldn't jump on him in the mornings!!!)
Leaving your kids while you go away....that requires a whole other rant!!

NessaKnits said...

I agree that Heather was a bit cranky ... but I have to say that my family loved staying with my Mum and Dad this Christmas for the first time (previously we lived a suburb away) and I think it is nice for the grandchildren and the grandparents to see each other as they are.

I always believe that if you go to someone's place for dinner or lunch or to stay that it is manners to contribute to the food, drink or anything else that you may partake in while you are there, though I do know people that are of the belief that if they tell you not to bring anything to their house for dinner that is what they mean and they also expect that they won't bring anything to your house when they come which I don't really get and I would still take something.

If it suits your family better to stay in a motel or hotel, then do that. For my family it would be an extra expense that would probably veto going in the first place.

NessaKnits said...

And I have to say also, I often volunteer to have other people's children come and stay because it fosters greater friendships for my children and I do think it was a bit much you were chosen to look after a child while their parents traveled interstate without your knowledge. They could have at least left their medicare number. I hope you gave them what for when they returned to get their child.

Anna Bartlett said...

I agree with Tinajo, it's the 'no alone time' that I find the hardest, whether we're the guests or the hosts.
We were the freeloaders this year, as, like NessaKnits, if we had to pay for a motel as well, we probably wouldn't be going anywhere.
Our problem this year was with friends who insisted that our family of 6 stay with them, but as they have very rigid routines (including a 7pm bedtime for the 2 and 5 year old, where the mother also goes to bed and the entire house must be silent - my non-daylight savings kids felt like it was torture) it was an almost impossible situation. Needless to say, lesson learnt.
My inlaws now stay in a motel when they visit as our family simply fills up our house too much, and I have to say it's been a real saviour in our relationship.
However if we declined to stay with them in Sydney when we visited, in my SIL's words, "It wouldn't be worth visiting, Mum would be so offended".
We know there's a lot of us - we love it when you offer for us to stay, but if we don't take you up on it, please don't be upset!
OK, I'll get of my soapbox now... thanks Posie!