Family Visits "Wear Me Out"
"I have two children with children of their own who live out of town. I sincerely look forward to their visits several times a year. The problem is that their visits completely wear me out. I am 75 years old with no health issues, yet I find that I no longer have the stamina for feeding a crowd, babysitting four preschoolers, and picking up toys all day long. I hate to admit it, but by the time the children leave, I am anxious for them to go. How do I look forward to and enjoy their visits?"
The simple answer is that you setup their visits differently. Your lack of stamina is not a problem. It is normal for a 75-year-old to tire more easily than her children, who are likely in their 40s, or younger.
When children come to visit, they are in vacation mode. Also, you are the mom and have a very long history of taking care of them. When they come for a visit, it is quite easy for them to slip into the child role again. Now bring along the children and spouse and you have created a situation that is just too much for Mom to handle at almost any age.
So, what you need to do here is to “create a reset.” Remember you are doing this so everyone enjoys the time together, and no one is overwhelmed.
- Start with meals. Assign each family certain meals of your choosing. If they do not want to cook, they may host the entire family at a restaurant, their treat. Make them responsible for preparation and cleanup. If you desire, they could also purchase the food.
- Next, the household invasion and subsequent disorder need to be addressed. Let them know that the kitchen and floors must be picked up before the family retires for the night. This is important for safety alone. The last thing you want is a fall to spoil your visit because you tripped on a toy during the night.
- Have your children strip and remake the beds before they leave. An extra set of sheets for each bed is the key to efficiently “resetting” the house and might be worth the investment if they visit regularly.
- Some family tasks you could also consider are cutting the grass, painting the fence, raking the leaves, pulling the weeds, or vacuuming the carpet to give them a project for the week.
The secret to making their visit easier is to assign tasks that you would otherwise do. Then let them do the tasks. Expect them to feel more connected if they have something to contribute. It may even be more fun for all.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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