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Having family or friends visit offers an opportunity to catch up and spend some quality time together, but it can also be a source of stress. No matter how much you may love your house guests, they’re still spending time in a space that’s normally private. They’ll inevitably have different ways of doing things and may unintentionally make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.

How to Make the Visit as Pleasant as Possible

You need to be realistic about whether you can accommodate everyone who’d like to come. You might love the idea of having your sibling and their spouse and four children stay with you, but if you only have one extra bedroom, it’s simply unrealistic. They’d feel crowded, the kids would be cranky and you’d be stressed out. Be honest with your guests and tell them if you don’t have enough space for everyone. They’ll understand.

One of the best ways to avoid stress when having guests visit is to keep the stay relatively brief, but long enough to catch up. Many people find that three days is just the right amount of time. After that, it’s natural to begin to feel overwhelmed. If your guests will be traveling from far away, they might want to stay longer. Have a realistic talk about how everybody would feel after a week or so together and ask yourselves if it would be better for everyone’s sanity to have your guests stay in a hotel.

If you decide to have guests stay with you, be clear about your expectations at the beginning. People have widely differing standards of cleanliness and ideas about what types of behavior are acceptable. Talk about things such as cleaning up after themselves, whether they can help themselves to food, what you consider appropriate language, any topics that you consider off-limits, and when the house needs to be quiet so people can sleep. Your guests aren’t mind readers, and you can avoid a lot of conflict if you make these things clear at the outset.

Don’t feel like you need to entertain your guests 24 hours a day. If you need to work during their stay, suggest some things to do and let them know when you need to go to bed. Even if you’re taking some time off during the visit, it’s a good idea to encourage your guests to go off and do some things on their own so you can all have some space.

Talk Things Through in Advance

When entertaining guests in your home, the best way to avoid stress is to be realistic and communicate. Only invite a number of guests that you can comfortably accommodate and be realistic about the length of time. Be clear about rules and expectations and give each other some space so you can avoid stress and make the most of your time together.