Messy Guests: How do I keep my house in order while hosting family?

Q: My brother and his family come to visit every summer and leave their stuff everywhere.  How do I keep them from making a mess?

A: You might be tempted to suggest a nearby hotel; instead, lay down a few rules early on.  It’s OK to set expectations for guests—including family!— so call your brother beforehand and say something like, “There’ll be lots of us, so everyone needs to pitch in.  It would be great if you could keep your family’s stuff confined to your bedrooms and the den.”  Then remind them again when they’ve arrived: “I’d love to keep the house reasonably straight; can you all help?”  Give nieces and nephews jobs, such as setting the table, and if you need to nudge anyone, do it nicely and offer a solution (Johnny, remember the house rules: Please hang your wet suit in the bathroom.  Thanks so much.”).

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