25 days away from home,
30 hours travelling by car,
9 hours travelling by bus, and
6 hours travelling by plane,
we are finally back home.
Oh, how happy I am to be here again!
My introversion is squirming with joy right now. Nobody is talking to me. I'm not participating in family activities, answering questions, holding up my end of a conversation. My husband is out grocery shopping with the older boy while the younger one and our little childcare baby are napping. Nobody is requesting anything of me for these next precious moments. Bliss.
Holidays are always the hardest on this introverted soul, those rare opportunities to spend time with family, both wanting to and being expected to make the most of the visit. With so few opportunities to recharge in solitude, I always return home worn out - happy to have had the chance to spend time with loved ones, yes, but worn out nonetheless.
And then there are the simple comforts of being in one's own home. My own bed. My own food. My children's toys. Our routines. Our home.
The first half of our visit was spent with my in-laws, while the second half was spent with my parents and sisters. The two visits were as opposite as day and night, and one was certainly more challenging and less relaxing than the other. With the visits still fresh in my mind, there are a few things I want to remember for when my own grown children and grandchildren come to visit:
- Make the house as grandchild-friendly as possible. Clear away any clutter, move the breakables out of reach, and limit the things they can get into. And for goodness' sake, don't hand a small child something with the admonishment to be very careful now, that's very special and irreplaceable! Just put it away.
- Have on hand some things to make the visit easier. A highchair, some special "grandma's house" toys, some books, and so on. For families travelling with young children, the less they need to bring along, the better.
- Make the spouse and grandchildren feel welcome, with their presence being an enjoyable blessing rather than an inconvenient burden. Make it clear that you consider your child's spouse to be part of your family. Expect and encourage the noise and movement of young children.
- Approach young children the way you would a dog (pardon the analogy). When you first approach a dog, you offer your hand for it to sniff. You don't pounce on it and expect it to submit to your enthusiastic petting. Likewise with children. Give them space and let them come to you rather than demanding their immediate unbridled enthusiasm and joy at your presence. If you do choose to take the latter approach, don't be surprised or offended when they shy away from you for the rest of the visit.
- Don't undermine the parents by deliberately attempting to introduce ideas that you know the parents have avoided. Don't act innocent and get offended when the parents call you on it.
- Treat them like family, not guests. Having everyone pitch in with meal prep and kitchen clean up means more time to spend together, both while cleaning and after. Many hands make light work, and that work can be fun when everyone's talking and laughing together.
- Offer to babysit so the parents can go out alone for a while. Don't insist on it.
- Do insist that they take the gas money, and refuse to let them pay for the diapers you picked up in preparation for their arrival.
- Relax, talk, and have fun!
What about you? What made your holiday travels and family visits easier or harder?