- Jun 14, 2018
It’s during the warm season that our house gets the most foot traffic, AKA guests who drop in to visit (either unannounced or with at least a couple of weeks’ warning). I know I don’t sound very hospitable and welcoming with that opening sentence, but with my recently-launched home-based jobs, I’ve been pulling my hair out about how to entertain visitors while making sure I don’t lose money or opportunities with my personal projects.
So I’ve got a couple of days scheduled for this month and the next to receive guests or meet up with them. But before you ask me how I got myself into these situations, let me just tell you right now that I’m a bit of a pushover when it comes to visitors. I love catching up with old friends I haven’t seen in years, and I really love having my kids’ friends over for playdates and slumber parties!
How then do I reconcile my busy work-at-home schedule with making time for guests, you ask? After a bit of trial and error (along with some hurt feelings, false starts, and many takeaways and pizza deliveries than I care to remember), I managed to come up with four tried-and-tested methods to do so.
Keep a constant stream of communication with your guest
Having open communication lines is always key to avoiding misunderstanding, as well as ensuring that a visit is both pleasant and memorable. I learned a lot from past mistakes regarding this. Before, I relied on phone calls and text messaging to confirm visits, but lots of circumstances like flight delays, traffic, and other force majeure-type events threw a wrench into what I thought was an airtight and smooth schedule.
Today, I use Telegram for my everyday messenger system since I can do both personal and work-related communications on it. I can also synchronize chat messages in all of my devices so I can stay updated anywhere I may be (which can include last-minute cancellations and other unexpected occurrences, most of which are vexing when I learn about them too late).
Stick to your regular schedule as much as you can
Don’t be shy about telling your guests that you have a work schedule to stick to! Chances are they will not only understand your being a WAHM but will also likely make suggestions to accommodate both their schedule as guests and yours as a home-based career woman. It’s best to do this during the planning stages of their visit, so as to work around your daily schedule and determine your free time to have meals, visit tourist spots, and generally be a gracious host to your guests.
Personally, I’m a bit scatterbrained to remember everything on my own. To keep track of all my appointments and make sure I’m never double-booked, I rely on my Appointlet app from Google. So far it’s done an awesome job sending me reminders and confirmation on appointments, and also syncs events into my Google Calendar.
Plan a menu and meal schedule around the visit
I mentioned the pizza deliveries and numerous takeaways above. Those proved to be unhealthy, expensive, and frustrating because it showed me up as a careless and thoughtless host and it embarrassed me to no end. But past is past, and today I’ve learned to be more organized regarding dinner schedules and actually coming up with meals I can be proud to feed to my guests (on time, with a beautifully-set dining table, to boot).
It’s a great thing that I discovered the Mealime app and instantly loved the premise: “We’ve made meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking as simple as getting takeout.” Not only does it give me home-cooked recipes that are doable and delicious, but I can also customize the app to give me different kinds of meal plans - from classic to vegetarian, as well as plan around particular allergies, food dislikes, and the number of people and meals I should be cooking for!
Learn to say no sometimes
In all honesty, this was the hardest thing for me to learn. As I previously mentioned, I’m a pushover for guest accommodation. I guess I’m a people-pleaser deep down.
But not saying no has caused me strained relationships (between me and my guests, as well as between me and my husband/kids). As with all relationships, boundaries need to be set, otherwise, resentment sinks in and then these relationships become irreparable.
For instance, one guest had their itinerary and meals all planned out but suddenly showed up on my doorstep with a plus-one. Apparently, she neglected to tell me that she was in a new relationship and wanted to show off this new person in her life to me, her long-time friend, as a “surprise”. It hurt that she didn’t even bother thinking about the inconvenience of having an unannounced extra guest would cause her hosts. Needless to say, that particular weekend was pretty awkward and tense, and because I didn’t know how to say no, our relationship soured in the end.
So, my bottom line is, learn to say no if demands are unreasonable or you simply cannot accommodate them during a particular time. As an alternative, you can recommend another date or an affordable but nice inn where they can stay instead of your home.
Obviously, these tips are borne from personal experience, including the solutions I found so I can minimize the hassle and heartbreak of trying to balance being a WAHM with being a hostess. Working from home does not mean you can no longer entertain from home - far from it! If you’re the sociable type who loves entertaining, rest assured it’s still possible to do so even with your home-based career.
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Got any more tips to share about how to juggle being a WAHM-slash-host? I would love to learn from your experiences!