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For years I’ve wrestled with the question, why is having overnight guests so stressful? I love hosting folks at my home, but overnight guests are a different thing altogether.
I get anxious, there’s suddenly not enough time to do anything, and there are lots of last-minute grocery runs.
We’ve all been there. That call, text, or email from an out-of-town friend or family member saying they’ll be in your area soon.
And what starts out as a few innocent suggestions for things to do and see turns into your guest room being occupied for 3 nights and you on hosting duties.
In a perfect world, the stemware can clean itself, the beds are already perfectly made and ready to go, and showers can be cleaned with the snap of a finger.
But we all know that isn’t reality. At least not for me.
Instead, I have to figure out how to get these annoying hard water stains off my glasses so they look presentable, rewash sheets, and remake the guest room bed where my husband likes to nap and where I like to hide from the kids.
Let’s face it, hosting overnight guests entails a lot more than a few good meals and chatting and giggling the whole night long.
So I figured, the only way to resolve this recurring issue was to break down exactly why I was feeling anxious.
Then, hopefully, I’d be able to find solutions that would help ease the stress in the future.
Here’s what I’ve learned about why hosting overnight guests is so stressful.
We Care What Others Think of Us and Our Home
Put simply, we care what others think about us and about our home.
For some people, the idea that a friend or family member would rather stay in a hotel instead of staying in your home is almost an insult.
We want to show our friends and family that we have thought about their needs, and that we are able to provide them with a safe, comfortable, place to stay.
Moreover, we often feel the social pressure and the need to put our best foot forward.
For example, you might be known among your circle of friends as someone who is good with the grill. And you’re proud of that.
So of course, there’s a part of you that does not want to disappoint.
And when it comes to family, you’re almost guaranteed to get a report card on your performance.
Whether it’s my mom telling my aunt, or my grandma telling my mom, word will get around about how their stay was.
If your family is like this, you know you’d better bring your “A” game when you’re hosting family as overnight guests.
SOLUTION: Focus on making one thing about their visit really great to outshine the things that may be less than stellar.
Change in Routine
New people in your household require everyone to adapt just slightly.
For most of us, a routine creates a level of stable predictability that grounds us. We know what’s going to happen and when.
Unless you’re hosting an Airbnb guest in your spare bedroom and aren’t granting access to your kitchen, your normal routine will be affected.
People we are familiar with and care about require attention. And, we naturally want to give it because we enjoy their company and them as a person.
Here are a few ways an overnight guest may create a change in your routine:
Dinnertime may be a little late or a little early
Extra people means extra meal prep time, extra cooking time, and possibly a longer dinner time altogether.
Then, of course, there’s the cleanup.
You will have to think about the quantity of food. Is it enough? Is anyone allergic to anything? How about the drinks, who prefers what?
You’ll also have your regular routine to work into the evening like kid’s bedtimes and bathtimes.
Also, what about your guests? Do they have plans outside of the home that doesn’t include you? Are they going to the theater or to visit another friend in town one evening?
All of these little things have the potential to shift your usual mealtime routine.
SOLUTION: Thankfully planning ahead and communication are all you need to ease the stress of a jostled schedule.
Things like meal prepping a few slow cooker dinners will save you a ton of time in the kitchen.
By doing the prep ahead of time and storing everything in dump-and-go bags in the freezer, mealtime for overnight guests couldn’t be easier.
Not only are they getting a home-cooked meal, but they’re getting something super flavorful that’s been slow cooking all day. There’s nothing better than that!
Best of all, you won’t have a bunch of pots, pans, and mixing bowls to tackle when it’s time to clean up.
One of my favorite places to get dump and go slow cooker is Julia Pacheco on YouTube. The recipes she shares are so quick and easy.
You may spend an extra two hours up late at night chatting instead of prepping for the next day
If your guest is staying overnight, it’s safe to assume that they don’t live close by.
In fact, you may not have seen this person(s) in a year or more. So, it’s normal for you to want to stay up a few extra hours just catching up.
This will inevitably affect your routine especially if it’s done on a weeknight.
You may have to forgo some of the things you normally do or even miss an hour or two of sleep.
SOLUTION: The best way to free up some extra time and still get everything done is to prepare for guests early.
Try to get into the routine of restocking guest supplies including toiletries and snacks immediately after an overnight guest leaves.
This will stop you from monopolizing your time with last-minute prep for the next guest. And the time you would have spent preparing things for them can be spent preparing things for yourself.
If your guest is coming during the workweek, consider prepping your lunches or the kid’s lunches for the week before they arrive.
Or do your weekly self-care routine early so that you don’t have to sacrifice it for time spent staying up late chatting with your friends.
You may go out when you’d normally stay in and have a quiet night at home
Another change in routine will be to go out instead of staying in.
A few sightseeing suggestions can turn into a full-blown night on the town in an instant.
If your guests are in your city for the first time, you will want to personally show them a few of your favorite spots.
But, while you’re doing that, you’re not participating in your normal routine.
It’s easy to feel stressed after these types of excursions.
Just because your guest is on vacation doesn’t mean you are. You still have daily responsibilities to take care of and now you have 4 hours less than you normally would get them done.
SOLUTION: Strike a balance between going out and staying in.
Stay in during the week if you and your family still have work and school to juggle.
Save the sightseeing for the weekend when things are more relaxed.
Instead, opt to watch a show or a movie together with chips and dip and cocktails on the couch instead of going out to a bar or lounge.
Order in from a meal delivery service instead of going out to dinner.
It’s the best of both worlds, you get a special meal that you don’t have to cook, and you still have time to juggle chores around the house.
There’s no doubt your out-of-town guests are saving money on their trip by staying with you. But what some may neglect to consider is the additional expense put on you.
Now I am by no way suggesting that you charge your guests for their stay. After all, they’re likely family or close friends that you’d be happy to have in your home.
But, that doesn’t change the fact that hosting overnight guests comes with some additional expenses to the hostess. This may be in the form of extra food, toiletries, new towels, etc.
If your hosting supplies aren’t well established or you just don’t have the extra funds that month it can cause a lot of stress.
SOLUTION: Only accept overnight guests if you can comfortably accommodate them.
A last-minute guest staying for a single night won’t incur much expense. But long-term guests staying for 3 days or more may start to add up, so plan ahead for them.
Extra Time & Effort
Fresh linens, a clean bathroom, and an overall tidy home take time.
If you’re like me, I want my guests to want for nothing.
I want to make sure all of their needs are met and thought of in advance so that they are as comfortable as possible.
Unfortunately, we don’t always have a week in advance to prepare. I’ve had guests that came for a visit and then get a whisper from my husband halfway through dinner that they want to stay the night!
In fact, that has happened so many times that we’re practically last-minute hosting pros. I chalk it up to a cultural difference. I’ve never done that or known anyone to do that ever before.
That being said, the expectations are always much lower. They don’t expect to be fed, they don’t expect any special treatment.
But for me personally, that’s just not how I roll. I’m going to pull out all the stops. I feel anxious if I don’t go above and beyond.
And while that self-induced stress may be immense, it brings me a lot of joy to be able to welcome folks into my home and be able to provide them with a comfortable stay.
SOLUTION: If you have wildcard acquaintances like we do, prep your guest room anytime someone visits. Even if you don’t expect them to stay.
It can be fun to host guests for an overnight stay. But as a host or hostess, the most important thing we can do to avoid a stressful situation is to plan in advance.
This can be done in a variety of ways from meals, to activities, to room preparation.
If you enjoyed this post, I’ve listed a few more below that you may want to check out.
- How To Make Someone Feel Comfortable In Your Home
- How To Make Your Home Smell Good Naturally
- What To Put In A Guest Room Basket
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