Company Is Coming! Your Survival Guide (Episode 133)
Have you had those moments, maybe during the holidays, when you were entertaining, hosting, and generally being “on” for an extended period of time? Maybe the thought of having company now fills you with dread, or you feel trapped in the obligation of making everyone happy.
Company is coming, and here is your survival guide to actually enjoy it!
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Company, Company, Company!
This week I had a full layout of what I was going to cover in the podcast, and then...this just kept pressing on my mind. I know we tend to be a go-go-go type of family, and often there are times people wonder just how we do it all.
Well, in this episode and below, we break down our "survival tips" for handling company. It's currently the week of Valentines, and, since mid December, we've had a total of 47 days of company! I mention that to most people and they are shocked we're still standing.
So today, we invite you to listen in on our unscripted conversation about how we not only survived, but were able to have clear boundaries, recharge, and truly enjoy all the hubbub around us.
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Where are we this week?
This week the girls really put on their entrepreneurial pants and rocked it!
Our campsite just so happens to be right on the walking/biking path that circles around the whole campground. Seeing all the dog walkers every morning sparked an idea in Clara, and she asked about crocheting dog collars and "collar flowers" for dogs.
Well, one thing led to another, and she not only made dog collars and flowers, but doggie bowties, sweaters, and even free dog treats and a water bowl setting out to draw the customers in.
And, of course, not to ignore the non-dog owners or the humans on the path, this morning they were all set up with brownies and banana bread as well!
Their little entrepreneurial endeavor has been going on all week, and they have loved building anticipation with their "hours", and getting creative with what things to offer.
They have definitely learned even more about perseverance, handling rejection, and following through with commitments. It's been a great #kickinitunschool journey!
Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies and see all the pictures from their little stand!
Allow For Space
It’s important to balance being “on” with down times incorporated in to allow you to recharge. We are a high energy family – and we can easily go-go-go. Yet even for us, we recognize the importance of taking downtime, especially when company is around. It’s one thing to be “on” for 1-3 days. But to stretch that out to a full week or even longer…you can’t just wait until the timing is right and all the company is gone. Incorporate it in.
Even with company in town, it’s okay to ask for down time. Setting boundaries around sacred space time – to shower, meditate, recharge – are just as important to work in as the big events you may want to do collectively with company.
Having a jam-packed agenda you don’t normally do anyway may not be the best option – for your family, OR your company. Pace yourself. Recognize different energy levels.
For example, grandparents may have been fully capable of keeping up with their kids when they were younger, but a long stretch of not having young children under their roof may mean they have a slower pace, take regular naps, etc – how much are you shifting the schedule of your company?
Recognize their pace, and pay attention to their main desire – is it to enjoy each other’s company, or explore the sights around/do something together?
Expanding on this concept of pacing ourselves, there is no agenda that precedes the person. In other words, it’s not just about laying out all the things you want to do, but really checking in with how everyone is doing/feeling consistently. Even the best laid plans can be a royal flop if everyone’s tensions are high, they aren’t feeling well or are are just flat-out tired.
So first thing we do is check in as a family, and we manage expectations by clearly communicating. If we need some down time, we voice it, and we take it. Even with company around. If we sense they could use a break, we voice it, and give them some opportunities to chill. And if we are going to go somewhere/do something, we voice that expectation before we act and make sure we’re all on the same page.
Unspoken expectations lead to resentment.
Not only do we voice what we’re going to do, but how we’re going to do it – for example, going to a state park – are we going to just hang and play at a playground, or for an intense hike?
Checking in consistently is huge. Not only do we voice expectations and agendas, but we are a-ok with those changing as needed. We may have had great plans for the day in our heads, but the reality is that we stayed up late the night before enjoying some great conversation, and the next morning we’re a bit slower, and really enjoying just continuing with the conversation.
As long as we discuss the shift in schedule and check in that no one is chomping at the bit to go, we can re-evaluate. Nathan talks about this on the podcast episode, and how we would simply state our observations: “hey, I know we were going to do a hike this morning, however, with our extra loops and conversations on the walking path yesterday, plus the slow roll waking up, would everyone rather just chill this morning?”
Allow for simply being present with one another – sometimes creating space for random conversation is the best agenda you can have for the day.
Cater to the Personality Styles
Knowing who you are and how others tick is so, so powerful in ensuring you can move from basic communication to true connection. If you have a high C planner coming to visit, laying out expectations and agenda can really help them navigate the unknown of descending on your family dynamics for a bit. If you have a high-energy person, adding high-energy activities can help to get out those energy bursts each day.
Don’t ever let an assessment be bigger than the person. We use the personality styles to gain insights into how to best motivate and encourage one another, and how to better understand how people react on default. Yet there is more to someone than a default reaction – recognize this is just one tool in your tool-belt; not the end-all-be-all.
Think about what is truly necessary. Is it critical to have a spotless home? Fancy four-course meals three times a day? Do these allow you to truly visit with your company, or pull you away? Is it worth the stress?
Look at little ways to help and/or clean up, but don’t go overboard. Maybe a quick nightly sweep is enough, but mopping the floors and cleaning out the bedroom closet not only are completely unnecessary, but it pulls you away from actually spending time with the company you have.
Think about what rooms your company will even be visiting. Give attention to those spaces, and don’t beat yourself up over your private bathroom being in disarray.
When it comes to meals, look for ease. What can you make ahead? What can you do buffet-style so you can accommodate all the dietary preferences? Are your visitors big breakfast eaters, or sit down for three meals a day people, or could you get away with a huge veggies/hummus tray for a snacky “lunch” and scale back to only 1 or 2 big meals? What can you do as “one dish” meals instead of a four-course presentation?
Look for restaurants or take out/delivery. Maybe it’s not a time to test out a new restaurant with young kids, but to visit the tried and true places where you know the menu and how your kids handle the atmosphere so it can truly be an enjoyable time for everyone, or arrange for a sitter to ensure some adult time as well.
Remember Your Why
Go back to WHY your company is visiting. Is it to see a destination, spend time with you, a combo? If you can stay true to the “why” behind it, you can help to pace what you do during that time. Sometimes we place so much pressure on entertaining, we lose sight of the magic in just having conversation and being with someone. Support the biggest desire – allow for space to hang out, if that’s what they are coming for!
Don’t force an agenda just because you said you would. Allow for flexibility! Even if you have a lot on the schedule, if someone is off, it can make it difficult and/or unenjoyable for all.
Do a daily check-in with your family. Focus on your core family. Go back to your family vision and that life you – and your family – dreamed up and are creating together. Make sure you are checking in, regardless of who else is coming in the door. Don’t approach company side-by-side, but check in and see how everyone else is doing.
Your Weekly Challenge:
The next time you’re looking at company coming, sit down with your family before they arrive, and talk about what they want/expect for this visit. Be realistic on what your anchors are (those things you want to do no matter what).
Never let the task, or the thing to do, or the expectation, or the agenda, get bigger than the person.
The more you understand about yourself, the more you know how to keep yourself recharged and motivated. The more you understand others, the more you can work with them and move from basic communication to true connection, understanding their own needs.
And ultimately, when we work to better understand ourselves and others, we are able to truly identify how “the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste.
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
Or, hop on over to the Mama Says Namaste or Unschooling Families FB groups and ask your question there!