Having house guests can be stressful. It isn’t anyone’s fault — it’s just that adding on to an already busy “to do” list, while disrupting the rhythm and schedule of life, can cause chaos. We’ve just had 10 days of house guests. Our schedule was a disaster, the boundaries and rules with the kids were bent all over the place, we all shared a bathroom, we gave up our bedroom and slept in the living room, we stayed up too late every night. I’m really glad they came to see us, but we are all exhausted now.
In addition to the logistics, it’s hard to live with anyone for 10 days. I don’t think 10 consecutive days have ever passed between Dan & I where one of us hasn’t gotten a little frustrated, irritable or snippy with the other. In a marriage, you learn which battles to fight and which to leave, and you develop a give and take of how to handle these routine frustrations. With guests, it’s harder. There is, of course, still plenty of reason to get frustrated, irritable or snippy with each other, but you try really, really, really hard not to. It’s rude, it seems petty (especially when you’re only spending a few days with each other), the damage done is disproportionally severe when compared to the impact of whatever little irritation caused the situation in the first place and, of course, you’re trying to be on your best behavior. (I have a tendency to be irritable, especially when I’m stressed out — which is often — so this kind of “letting go” of little things is something I’ve been working on in myself for years.)
Our guests left this afternoon, after 10 days of, truly, a very nice visit. But now, we’re all exhausted, and we’re out of sync with the way we usually do things. Since they left (about 8 hours ago) Dan & I have snapped at each other at least twice, Benjamin has been in “time out” twice (up until today he had been in time out only twice since we’ve been in Austria), Dan has slammed a door, I’ve slapped my hand on the kitchen counter in frustration (ouch), Benjamin is currently crying in his room because he doesn’t want to go to sleep, Liam took three tries to get down to bed and he was even tricky to feed at dinner. Basically, we’re a mess. We’re trying to get back to normal, but we’re tired and we’re all at our limits, so we take it out on each other, a little bit, which I wish I could prevent.
Although this all sounds awful, I actually think we’re handling this level of stress better than we ever have before. Our moments of frustration have been fleeting. Benjamin sat quietly in his time outs and went right back to being his happy, playful (and mischievous!) self. Liam is now sleeping peacefully . . . and I think Benjamin may be (finally) too. We’re still tired. I have a mountain of laundry to do (including the sheets for our bed, which are currently wet in the drier . . . sigh) and tomorrow, life goes back to normal.