We’ve all been there. You are on your way to spend the night at someone’s house, perhaps with family for the holidays. You scurry around the house packing clothes, bibs, night lights, and favorite blankets. Did you remember cell chargers, snacks for the car, and a sippy cup for the toddler? The checklist is endless and you’re positive you’ve forgotten many things as you pull out of the driveway.
Then there’s the family anxiously awaiting your arrival. They’ve changed the sheets, scrubbed the toilets, and stuffed their junk piles into places you hopefully won’t find. They’re excited to have their home filled with joyful squeals and footie pajamas. But they can’t help but wonder, “What can we do to be most helpful?”
Well, listen up grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, friends, and extended family members! You will earn extra hugs and sincere appreciation if you do any of the following ideas before you host a family with kids.
Invest or Borrow
Depending on the frequency and ages of your house guests, you might consider purchasing some of the following items. Or, look to a friend or neighbor to borrow some of the bigger baby gear while your visitors are in town. Don’t allow yourself to believe that these items need to be expensive! Choose inexpensive brands that will work for your occasional guests. Ultimately, anything you can provide is one less thing the busy momma needs to pack.
- Pack ‘n Play
- High chair
- Baby equipment (swing/bouncer, jumper, etc)
- Baby gate
- Outlet covers
- Door knob covers
- Baby soap and lotion
- A fan or noise machine
- Baby safe laundry detergent (Dreft, Tide Free & Gentle, etc.)
- Plastic plates/cups/sippy cups
- Diapers and wipes
- Bottle brush
- Set up a Pack ‘n Play, air mattress, or other bedding arrangements for the kids prior to their arrival.
- Be sure the rooms are warm enough or have a space heater available.
- Do you have window coverings to keep out the sun? Be creative! Pin up black garbage bags or a dark colored sheet.
- Have a nightlight and outlet available in the room so they are easy to access come bedtime.
- Are they traveling with a baby?
- Set up a make-shift changing table (card table + thick blanket + pillowcase = perfect).
- Have a garbage can or ice cream pail with a lid for dirty diapers.
- Be sure to have a dim lamp available for nighttime feedings, along with a chair for momma to sit in while she feeds.
- Have dish soap, a bottle brush, and dish towel available for washing bottles or pump parts.
- A few days before they come, ask what foods the kids most enjoy for breakfast and snacks so you can have them on hand.
- What type of milk do the kids drink?
- What types of foods are the kids accustomed to?
- Do any of the kids need a high chair or booster? Have it set up at the table so it’s ready to go!
Clear the Runway
- Let’s be honest, little hands can get into anything and everything within reach. Go around your house and remove the items that you don’t want broken, touched, examined, or thrown. Having these items removed ahead of time will allow the parents to relax instead of watching their child’s every move.
- Have toys out and ready for the kids to play with. (Toys do not necessarily mean expensive and fancy. Plastic bowls, wooden spoons, empty wrapping paper tubes, and old phones all deserve the chance to be played with in the eyes of a child.)
- Set up a baby gate or blockade at the top/bottom of stairs to prevent crawlers from getting injured and allow the parents to relax.
Communication is Key
- Communicate with the parents ahead of time and ask which items would be helpful for you to provide. Go ahead and insist, but if they say no, that’s okay. Sometimes parents need certain items, brands, etc.
- After you’ve agreed upon what you will provide, begin getting items ready. Communicate with them a day or two beforehand letting them know what you’ve happily prepared so they can pack items that you may not have been able to acquire. This also prevents duplication of items.
- If the parents don’t use the items the way you’ve set up, please don’t be offended. Each child is different and routines are more important to some over others. While traveling, the parents need to be given the flexibility to do what works best for their kids.
Just know that you do not need to do all of the above.
What kids need greatly depends on which stage of life they are in. As long as you are willing to prepare ahead of time and share in the excitement of their arrival, your house guests will feel welcomed into your home. Now the hard work is done! All that is left to do is play, chase, tickle, and squeal with excitement for the opportunity to love on those kiddos.
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