If you are ever a guest in our home, I think you will be very happy; Mr.4444 especially loves to entertain (cook!) for company, and he is often heard saying, "Here is your first drink--From here on out, you know where everything is--Get it yourself--Our house is your house." We always enjoy company but have never had anyone stay here more than a few days.
A friend of mine has invited a family member to live with her and her family because she is going through a tough time financially. These days, parents often agree to have their adult children move back in with them, too. Whether such an arrangement is made between friends or family members, things can go very well or result in strained (or worse--the end of) relationships if not handled well. One way to avoid this is to communicate. Here are my recommendations for setting up a successful longer-term house guest situation:
If possible, sit down before the move-in to talk about the issues I've outlined below. If that's not possible, have the meeting as soon as possible. Also, (and this is important) at that meeting, choose a date a few weeks out from the move-in to sit down and talk about how things are going. Agree that that meeting will take place no matter how things are going. That way, it won't be awkward to have the meeting.
First, hold a meeting to discuss the important topics below. If necessary, put things in writing and sign it to indicate clear understanding for both of you (athough, if this is necessary, you might want to rethink this arrangement.) At the very least, you need to have this list (edited for your own needs, of course).
What is the time frame for this stay? A few weeks? A month? Three months? Are you comfortable leaving it open-ended? If you have one, what is your must-end-by date?
*Who will set/clear the table for meals? (which meals?)
*Dishes-Must they be done immediately? Do you share philosophies on this subject?
*How will laundry be handled?
*Hair in the tub? Who gets to handle that?
*Snow removal/Lawn Care
*Are you morning/evening people? How are you going to work that out?
*What about TV/Movie watching?
*Do you expect to inform each other of your whereabouts if you won't be home at night? [Worry factor--not just being nosy]
*Does the house guest assume freedom as any other family member? Are any rooms off-limits?
*Do you and your spouse/family have any expectations about having parts of your house to yourself sometimes? (living room, swimming pool, etc.) How will you communicate that?
*Is your guest welcome to bring overnight guests into your home? If yes, under what circumstances?
* What expectations are there surrounding the guest being able to invite other guests over (to join in dinner, to entertain themselves, to enjoy the pool, etc.? (Thanks, Nota, for this addition!)
*Is the house guest going to be responsible for any bills/expenses related to the house? Cable? Water? etc.
*If the house guest is not responsible for financial support, will he/she be expected to do anything else in exchange? i.e. babysitting, lawn work, errands, etc.
*Bathroom Supplies--Will the guest be expected to provide their own shampoo/conditioner/soap?
*Will the house guest be welcome to share all meals with the family?
*Who will shop for groceries? Pay for groceries? How often?
*Will the house guest have a special cupboard for his/her own favorite snacks, or will everyone just share everything? [Some things matter! For example, I have a House Rule: Whoever bakes the cookies always gets the last one.]
*Who will cook meals? Will you share responsibilities?
*If you have pets, how does the house guest feel about them?
*Does the house guest have a pet of his/her own? What are the expectations for that pet?
*If you both have pets, who will pay for expenses related to the pet? i.e. pet food, damage, etc.
*Will your house guest be welcome to use your vehicles? If so, which ones? Under what circumstances?
*If sharing your vehicle, do you have any expectations regarding paying for gas, oil, etc.
*What role, if any, will your house guest have in caring for your children. Discipline? Babysitting?
*Telephone-If you have a land-line phone, do you have expectations about how that phone is answered? [I find it annoying when people just say, "Hello?" when they answer someone else's phone.]
*Are there any pet peeves that either of you feel strongly about?
are there any house etiquette rules? putting down toilet seats? observing recycling? that need to be observed. We usually give each other 20-30 minutes of "wind down" time upon coming home before we get into any heavy discussions or mention to-do lists. That kind of thing. (from Nota)
*Is your house guest to be considered a member of your family? If so, does that mean they'll be invited to join you on family outings or vacation trips?
*Who controls the thermostat in your house? [Hey--Some people really care about that stuff!]
I'd be very interested in other suggestions you would add to this list.
After a few weeks, it's important that you sit down and talk about how things are going, even if you think they're going just fine. Each of you should talk about what's going well and what might not be going as well or as expected; talk about how your expectations (both of yours) have fit or not fit with the reality. Refer back to your list for reference points. If it's going well, congratulate each other on how you've managed to make something potentially-icky go well. Then make a plan to meet again in a month or two (put it on the calendar!).