Relatives and friends' visits can be taxing both emotionally and financially, but most of the time the benefits will outweigh the frustrations.
Yesterday I was sharing with a friend about friends and family visits … I shared with her my experiences and how I felt about visitors when we first settled in Australia and when my son was born.
It brought back memories of about 23 years ago….
At that time, we lived about 30km from my work place, and my son was only a few months old. I recalled the time of the long travelling to and from work with my infant son in tow… the worst time of all was during the cold miserable Melbourne winter.
Every morning, on my way to work, I would drop my son at the babysitter's place half way between home and work, then headed to the nearest railway station to catch the train to work.
I had to do the same on the way back. By the time we arrived home, it was already dark and miserably cold, with a very tired and hungry infant in the car. The home was cold, dark and empty and felt very depressing.
If I were super organised that week, I would have had food ready for my son, and he would have been fed, bathed and settled in no time. On the other hand, if I had not organised my food, I would be scrambling for babies' food and with a hungry boy close to me, coupling with the cold and miserable weather out there …
Oh the stress!
We were lucky that we would have some relatives and friends visit and stay with us a few times during the year. The atmosphere in the home would be more fun, as there would be communication, laughter and cooking involved.
So when I came home from work, instead of pulling into a dark and quiet home, we would be going in to a well lit home, coupled with the aroma of wonderful dishes filtering through the door as we went in. We were greeted with smiles and home cooked meals waiting for us, including my toddler's son's meal – all cooked and ready waiting for him. On top of that, after dinner, he would have the pleasure of being entertained by enthusiastic relatives who just adored him, playing and amusing him, rather than a tired and grumpy mum who just wanted him to quickly eat, bath and go to sleep.
Do you see the difference in the home atmosphere?
If you are the lucky few that always have people visiting your home, yes, I have to admit, it can be tiring and stretch you both emotionally and financially, but if you look at the whole picture, your family would really benefit from this experience.
- Your children would benefit from the interactions with the extended families, and learn about being loved by other people other than their own parents; they learn to trust and to empathise with different people's needs.
- You are able to reconnect to your roots through your relatives’ interactions, and the pleasure of sampling home cooked dishes you grew up with, which you may not have the time to cook yourself.
- You are able to take the opportunity to make some time not only for yourself, but with your spouse, while your relatives can take over with the child minding while they are staying with you.
- You are able to get to know them better and reconnect the relationships – reconnect to your childhood.
Different outlook and boundaries
Whether the visitors are your friends or relatives, they will always have different outlooks on lives, due to different ways of being brought up as well as their culture.
Remember to set your boundaries, share your likes and dislikes with them, but be open to learning new things.
Even though relatives and friends' visits can be both emotionally and financially taxing at times, but most of the time, you will have a good time with them, by reconnecting, getting to know them better and establish better relationships with them. But most important of all, your children have the chance to get to know their extended families, and be more understanding about your background and your childhood, and where their roots lie.
Love to hear your thoughts.